Summer science institute for Oklahoma physics, physical science teachers offered

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Summer science institute for Oklahoma physics, physical science teachers offered

April 25, 2011

Northwestern Oklahoma State University and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) will present a five-day summer science institute for Oklahoma teachers of physics and physical science thanks to a grant from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

“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.

The application deadline is May 13. An online form and more information about the institute are available at

Dr. Steve Maier, Department of Natural Science chair and associate professor of physics, said only 30 teachers will be accepted on a first-come basis with priority given to teachers from high-need local education agencies. Districts able to send two or three teachers also may receive priority.

Each participant will receive a $600 stipend to defray travel costs and incidental expenses; on-campus room and board for the summer institute; along with teacher resource guides and other instructional materials to take back and use in the classroom.

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

The ITQ/ToPPS project at Northwestern is designed to provide a high quality professional development opportunity for high school and middle school teachers. The program will help these 30 teachers gain physics content area knowledge, develop new teaching strategies, integrate instructional technology and attain “highly qualified” status. The ultimate goals are enhancing classroom teaching, learning effectiveness and improving student achievement in physics and physical science.

The physics/science content of kinematics, dynamics and Newton’s laws will be investigated using the nationally proven Physics Teaching Resource Agents (PTRA) program curricula developed by AAPT.

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.

Lamore has been teaching physics at the high school level in the Houston area for eight years. Before becoming a teacher, Lamore served in the Peace Corps and worked as an engineer in the defense and semi-conductor and electronics industries for 13 years

Matsler has been in education for more than 30 years serving as a teacher in junior high and high school (16 years in physics), a K-12 science curriculum coordinator and a university professor in education, as well as science. Currently, she is a Master Teacher in the UTeach program at University of Texas-Arlington, an adjunct at Dallas Baptist University, an independent curriculum consultant, and external evaluator for numerous math and science grants. She has served as Co-PI for the nationally recognized AAPT/PTRA program since 2001 and was responsible for designing and implementing the evaluation component of the Rural PTRA project. She currently is serving as president of the Texas section of AAPT.

Nelson has been the director and principal investigator of the AAPT/PTRA Program since 1985. A long-time science and math teacher in Pennsylvania and Florida, Nelson currently is adjunct teaching at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla. Since 1984, Nelson has been a leader of the PTRA program. This program has developed a professional development curriculum supported by 15 Resource Guides published by AAPT (two of these Guides - Role of the laboratory in Physics Teaching and Teaching about Kinematics are authored by Nelson and his wife Jane.

Restivo is a PTRA for the AAPT and presents lectures and workshops at local, state and national meetings. She is a QuarkNet teacher through Southern Methodist University and is a QuarkNet Large Hadron Collider Fellow for Fermilab in Batavia, Ill. She actively has been involved in science fair and science research during her entire teaching career. She is a dual credit instructor for Navarro College at Global Early College High School in Waxahachie, Texas, teaching astronomy, chemistry, physical science and physics. Restivo also is an adjunct instructor at Texas A&M Commerce at the Midlothian campus teaching Integrated Science for Elementary Teachers.

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.

For more information, contact Maier at (580) 327-8562 or