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Physics is a Beach

Physics Girl

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To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.
— Isaac Newton

I love physics, pure and scientific, researching physics education, thinking about outreach, and making physics videos. However, my silly videos are not necessarily what might be useful to you in a classroom. As you know, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have arrived and you are beholden to incorporate these standards into your classroom. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, but are curious about science education reform in the US, here’s the NGSS website and here’s a good summary of the NGSS changes.

ONLINE PHYSICS RESOURCES

With the release of the final draft of the NGSS this year and their adoption in a few states, it is an opportune time to revise classroom curricula. This may involve looking for external resource. If you found this post through my YouTube channel, I hope my videos are a useful resource for you. Here are a few other sources I’ve found entertaining and could easily be applied in a classroom.

 

BEACH PHYSICS

Beach Physics is the other reason I have spent so much time finding science resources and reading about the new standards. I have been working with Professor Adam Burgasser in the physics department at UCSD on an outreach initiative called Beach Physics, partly inspired by the NGSS. 

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If you are looking for another resource that applies physics concepts beyond the classroom, especially one that incorporates the new standards, stay tuned! What is Beach Physics? It is is a free educational supplemental program, like the list above, funded directly by the physics department at UCSD to reach out to middle school students in physics. The premise is bringing physics concepts from the beach to online videos. Our labs are designed to incorporate the NGSS science and engineering practices. Our video topics cover disciplinary core concepts.

Much of the video material is in development (I’m working on it!). We will also have vocab guides, games, teacher and parent guides, as well as additional resources. But wait. We are also going to have short labs paired with each lesson. I am very excited about these! Why? Because I get to test them all first in my backyard.

WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT BEACH PHYSICS

There are a ton of physics resources already in existence. So why are we doing this? One reason is timing. Keeping in mind the NGSS, (have I mentioned the NGSS?) we are working alongside teachers to make these changes blend with our material. In contrast, many of the existing resources are developed for the love of communicating science, without much connection to the changes happening in national education. 

EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION

Among the types of science outreach are online videos. These are relatively new. Perhaps they even coincided with the invention of a site called YouTube. More and more online videos have appeared alongside traditional video like Bill Nye and Cosmos. The structure of a typical science YouTube video goes:

  1. Look at this cool thing! Why does it happen?
  2. First, let’s learn the relevant physics principle.
  3. This is how the principle applies to our question.
  4. Now you know more!

Beach physics is not trying to teach in the same way. We are following the inquiry-based structure of the NGSS. We offer videos that feature students asking questions. We allow students to guide their learning using multiple choices in the videos themselves. We are structuring our corresponding labs to allow the students to guide their learning. We are applying our enthusiasm and goofiness to motivate students and inspire curiosity.

WOMEN IN PHYSICS

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Of the channels and shows I mentioned - Veritasium, Minute Physics, ASAP Science, Sci Show, Bill Nye, Cosmos - how many feature men? All of them. ALL of them. I am a woman. The beach physics staff is mainly women. Our videos feature girls as the face of science and science learners. We are showing a side of physics that is more feminine. Here are a few more science outreach resources from women, though unfortunately none devoted solely to physics!

If you like the style of some of the videos I’ve made but you want something inspired by the NGSS, check out the Beach Physics website and stay tuned for its development. If you're interested in getting involved, sign up for our newsletter!