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Physics Teacher Education Coalition PhysTEC

Have you thought about teaching science? Have you realized that every professional is a teacher, whether in the classroom, the laboratory or the workplace? NC State’s PhysTEC program can introduce you to teaching – how
to teach and how students learn.

Nationwide there is a crying need for qualified high school physics teachers. In summer, 2013, the Physics Department was awarded a PhysTEC grant from the American Physical Society to institute a Learning Assistants program. NC State partners in a national network of university physics departments who are working to interest students in physics teaching and to prepare them to
succeed as teachers. The NCSU PhysTEC project is a partnership of the Department of Physics and the Department of STEM Education.

Each semester the department recruits five undergraduate PhysTEC Learning Assistants who will assist in teaching the PY 205 recitation sections and who
will participate in a seminar about teaching physics. In the Fall, 2014, we will begin the third semester of the program.

The PY 205 recitations meet for one hour each week. Each section includes about 30 students who are supervised by a graduate physics Teaching Assistant and an undergraduate Learning Assistant. The PY 205 students work in small groups on extended physics problems that require imagination, collaboration, and approximation. During the sessions the Learning Assistants answer student questions, ask the students questions, motivate and cajole, and resolve group problems. Often the Learning Assistants serve as the primary instructor in the recitation.

 The first-year Learning Assistants take a PY 299 Introduction to  Teaching Physics Seminar, that is taught by Physics and  Education faculty. The course meets 5 – 5:50 PM on Tuesdays.  The course includes discussions and activities about how student  learn, student science misconceptions, what kinds of questions to  ask, how to do physics demonstrations, how to lead a problem  session and inquiry-based learning.

 There are other benefits to being a PhysTEC Learning Assistant.  You meet interesting people. You improve your own understanding  of physics. You understand what your own teachers are doing.  PhysTEC looks great on your resume. Finally, the project provides  a stipend of $750 to the Learning Assistants for their participation                                                              in the program.

If you are considering physics teaching or want to learn more about PhysTEC at NC State contact Dr. David Haase (