$71,023 grant helped fund workshop for Oklahoma physics, physical science teachers

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$71,023 grant helped fund workshop for Oklahoma physics, physical science teachers

June 22, 2011

 Dr. Steve Maier
Dr. Steve Maier

Dr. Steven Maier, chair of the Department of Natural Science at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, received a $71,023 grant sponsored by the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education to provide 40 hours of professional development to 30 primary and secondary teachers in the areas of physics and physical science. The grant will reach northwest Oklahoma schools in high-need areas.

“Improving Teacher Quality through Training Opportunities for Teachers of Physics and Physical Science” or ITQ/ToPPS will be July 18-22 in the Science Building at Northwestern’s Alva campus. There also will be two Saturday follow-up meetings in April 2012 and October 2012. Online sessions also will be provided so participants can share their experiences of implementing institute techniques and pedagogies in their classrooms.

Physics Teaching Resource Agents (PTRA) / ToPPS institutes are nationally acclaimed professional development programs in physics and physical science.

“I am excited that Northwestern is the first institution in the state of Oklahoma to host a program of this caliber,” Maier said.

He also said the curriculum is based in education research using both low-tech and high-tech equipment in a very active learning environment.

“Pending future grant availability and successful application processes, we hope to continue the ToPPS program in years to come, perhaps increasing the scale to include other institutions and more teachers across the state,” Maier said.

Participants also have the opportunity to enroll in and receive three credit hours of graduate level education, physics or physical science.

Of the 27 Oklahoma school districts represented, selected teachers are coming from Alva, Barnsdall, Cherokee, Chisholm, Covington-Douglas, Deer Creek-Lamont, Edmond, El Reno, Elk City, Enid, Fairview, Garber, Haskell, Hennessey, Kremlin-Hillsdale, Medford, Midwest City, Oklahoma City, Owasso, Pawnee, Sharon-Mutual, Shattuck, Valliant, Wakita, Waynoka, Western Heights and Woodward.

Maier said the participants will be residing in Alva for five to six days and visiting local businesses.

“There will certainly be a boost for Alva’s economy,” Maier said.

“Northwestern will be well positioned as a resource hub for teachers of physics and physical science (ToPPS) and also will be recognized nationally for hosting this institute at conferences, in publications and by the PTRA program.”

Benefits for attending the summer institute include:

• Ideas for and opportunities to do laboratory activities;
• Tips on classroom demonstrations and presentations;
• Updates and new approaches for standard topics;
• Introduction to new approaches and teaching strategies; and
• Meeting new colleagues to contact for encouragement and suggestions.

Serving as instructors for the Institute are Brian Lamore, Dr. Karen Jo Matsler, Jim Nelson, Evelyn Restivo and Maier.

Maier teaches physics, physical science, earth and space science, science education methods and service learning courses at Northwestern. A member of the AAPT since 1992, his research interests are in physics education research and secondary science teacher preparation. He is a member of the AAPT Committee on Teacher Preparation, the secretary of the Arkansas-Oklahoma-Kansas section of AAPT and is the facilitator for the AAPT “Solo Physics Education Research” community. Maier is the primary investigator for the ITQ/ToPPS program at Northwestern and will play an active role as an instructor and in the day-to-day operations of the project.