Students who are good at math and science are regularly encouraged to pursue careers in science and engineering. But what about careers in science education, particularly physics education?
Teaching high school physics can very rewarding, with lots of excitement and creative problem solving. Teaching physics involves more than writing formulas on a chalkboard. It involves helping students to see the world in a new way. It involves crafting a learning environment where students are able to explore and understand how the physical world works, and to connect complex scientific concepts to their daily lives. It involves building student confidence in their ability to solve challenging problems, and empowering them to build a better future for themselves and others.
Teaching physics well requires creativity, thought and an understanding not only of physics but of psychology, cognition and communication. Physics teaching is not a fall-back option for those who can't cut it as physicists or engineers. It is a path for those with the most creative minds, for those with expansive intellects that appreciate multifaceted challenges, for those who want to really make a difference, and in an immediately tangible way.
The US is in desperate need of qualified physics teachers, for those with a solid grasp of physics and an inventive mind. Graduating physics teachers don't ask “Can I get a job?”, but “Which job offer should I take?”
Government and industry leaders know that physics is the gateway to careers in science, technology, engineering and medicine that are critical to the future prosperity and economic competitiveness of our country. Consequently, there are significant financial incentives at both the undergraduate and graduate level for for those planning to pursue careers in physics education.
You can make a difference. Are you up to the challenge?
Watch this short video on physics teaching careers, produced by the national PhysTEC organization: