Cornell University's PhysTEC Project is a joint effort of the Physics Department and the Cornell Teacher Education Program to recruit and prepare future physics teachers. We are committed to seeing this happen through the active recruitment of students to physics and Physics education, through the improvement of physics education practices at Cornell, and through educational and experiential support for students pursing physics teaching careers.
The Project began in Fall 2007, after Cornell was selected by the national PhysTEC organization as one of four new Primary Program Institutions. Professor Robert Thorne (Physics) and Associate Professor Travis Park (Cornell Teacher Education) are the project's directors.
A critical component of our program is the involvement of master high school physics teachers, who work at the university to recruit, train and mentor future physics teachers. Marty Alderman, a 30-year teacher from Fayetteville-Manlius High School, served as our TIR for our first two years. Our second TIR, Jim Overhiser from Cortland High School, has taught for 28 years and has served as President of the Science Teachers Association of New York State. Since the end of our PhysTEC seed support, Jim continues to teach Physics 4484 Teaching and Learning Physics, and we involved additional regional teachers in mentoring our students.
Seed support for Cornell's PhysTEC project came from the national PhysTEC organization and from the Office of the Provost at Cornell University. The Project is currently supported by the Physics Department.
Major components of Cornell's PhysTEC project include:
Changing the conversation: Educating undergraduate students, graduates students and faculty about the opportunities and rewards of high school physics teaching.
Active recruiting and promotion of both the physics major and physics teaching careers to undergraduate and graduate students.
Improved coordination between Physics and the Cornell Teacher Education Program, including active promotion of CTE events and activities in introductory physics courses.
An Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA) program, which provides Cornell undergraduates with an introduction to the intellectual and practical challenges of physics teaching, and additional instructional support through cooperative learning sessions in our introductory physics courses.
A weekly seminar course, Teaching and Learning Physics, which offers UTAs, graduate TAs, and other interested students an introduction to educational theory and practice, focusing specifically on physics education.
Support and encouragement for reforms in our introductory physics courses, so that they more effectively model best teaching practices for our undergraduates.
Mentoring of teachers in training, including coursework and career advice and classroom observation.
Please visit our Resources for Educators to learn more about the nuts and bolts of our program and to access our materials.