Frequently Asked Questions

The following are answers to questions brought up by webinar participants:

General - Freshman Physics

Q: From speaking with my principal, he is not in favor of this transition. With this mindset, he is not going to be willing to spend time looking through the information. How can you help me convince him this is the way to go?
A: Please check the Resources page of the website, which has papers that relate to the efficacy of freshman physics. If you would like to visit a freshman physics classroom, please contact Sarah Hill, and she will help arrange a visit.

Q: Where else in the nation is this sequence taught?
A. States in which freshman physics is taught in some public districts (there are many other private schools nationwide): Maine, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Ohio, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Kentucky, and of course, Missouri

Q: It says there is support to get board certification, in what area?
A: In Physics

Q: All of the classes will be in Columbia, at MU?
A: Yes, all summer classes will be held in Columbia, at MU. The academic year class is online.

Freshman Physics Curriculum, Implementation in district:

Q: Is there a specific text or set of materials the District will be required to purchase?
A: The project has developed a curriculum that has been piloted in 25+ Missouri districts since 2006. We are currently revising this curriculum, which is based on inquiry and modeling pedagogies. Fellows will receive a copy of this curriculum in electronic form for their use. Therefore, districts are not required to purchase any other texts.
The project will provide all Fellows with a materials kit that contains one copy of each piece of needed equipment/materials. Classroom sets of the larger equipment will be available as part of our kit-lending program. This will allow a few years for a district to phase in materials/equipment purchase for their classrooms.

Q: What is the level of coordination that you recommend between the Math department to best prepare for this effort.
A: In order to assist with coordination with the math department, a one-week academy is scheduled for math teacher colleagues from Fellows’ districts offered concurrently during the Fellows’ academy in years 1 and 2. Please also see Math FAQ’s link under the Participants tab in the website

Q: The commitment to teach the curriculum.... will it be a requirement to teach all sections of freshman?
A: We expect that the Physics First Fellow will teach a yearlong 9th grade physics course using project curriculum, starting in the academic year (AY) following attendance at the Fellow’s first summer academy. They may start with a few sections, but the district is expected to transition to offering Freshman physics to all 9th graders over the period of the grant.

Q: How are the grading and submitting of Pre and Posttests going to be handled this time?
A: During this project standardized pre- and post- tests will be used (two or three per year, mostly multiple choice).

Participant Benefits:

Q: Please review the stipend again. I assume the total amount includes the cost of the grad hrs, room and board, etc.
A: The stipend is paid to the participant, as are their travel expenses (participants will be informed of mileage allowed). This stipend payment is in addition to tuition, room and board expenses which are paid directly to MU. See the Benefits page for further details.

Q: It says there is a fee other than tuition. What kind of fee, and how much will that be?
A. While tuition is covered by the project, Fellows must pay MU student incidental fees, amounting to approximately $40/credit hour over the time of the grant (amounts are subject to change by the University Board of Curators). Fellows may seek school district support for this fee.

Q: You mentioned that reimbursement is going to come directly from the university. One of my fellow teachers asked if this will be funneled through the PERS- Missouri retirement or not?
A: Participant stipends will be set-up to be paid out through either Financial Aid [if they're taking classes], or through Accounting Services [if they're not taking classes]. In both these situations they will not go through the retirement system. If a potential participant is a current University employee, then we may have to pay their stipend through Payroll, which might send the payment through the retirement system.


Q: I am sure you are aware that small rural school districts are concerned about money. Are there any considerable expenses that would have to be absorbed by the school?
A: There are no direct or immediate expenses to the district. The project provides stipends, tuition, room, board, laptop or projector and a materials kit. The Fellow or district will have to pay MU’s student fees associated with the graduate credit (estimated at ~$200/year). See the answer above for long-term expenses.

Q: I have four sections of Physical Science. The largest groups are 24 students. Will the materials be sufficient to supply up to six teams of four? Will the materials be supplied or will the district need to purchase?
A. The materials kit provided to each participant (paid for by the grant) will include one copy of each piece of equipment needed for each lab/activity. Classroom sets may be checked out through our kit-lending program for a few weeks at a time (also for free!). This process is intended to allow schools to acquire classroom sets of equipment over the period of the grant.

Q: I need the principal to understand any financial commitment for materials and what that number is.
A: There is no requirement for financial commitment from the district. However, we recommend that districts plan to purchase classroom sets of equipment over a period of a few years. We will provide you with a detailed list of equipment used for the curriculum. The year 1 list will be available shortly after the 2010 summer academy.