The NSF funded A TIME for Physics First project, was structured as described below:

Sec. 1. Basics

A TIME for Physics First seeks to develop eighty 9th grade science teachers to become teacher intellectual leaders for Freshman Physics. The bulk of the teachers were recruited for this five-year project during Fall 2009; a small number of openings are currently available for the Summer 2011 cohort (Cohort 2). Selected teachers are known as Physics First Fellows. Their districts are known as Core Partner districts. Core Partner districts commit to offering a yearlong 9th grade physics course using project curriculum, and transitioning to making it a required course.

Cohort 1 and Cohort 2 receive the same content and leadership courses and academic year support. Cohort 1 started coursework in summer 2010, while Cohort 2 started in 2011. Cohort 1 received support from Coaches who visited their classrooms, while Cohort 2’s Mentors supported them online.

Fellows receive more than 300 hours of extended in-person and online professional development (PD) annually over three summers and three academic years. Fellows earn tuition-free graduate credit and receive a stipend, room, board, travel support, and materials. The 80 Fellows were assigned to either Cohort 1 or Cohort 2. Cohort 1 began in summer 2010 and Cohort 2 in summer 2011.

The summer curriculum builds Fellows’ intellectual leadership by specifically developing leadership skills and by building physics content knowledge integrated with inquiry, modeling and technology. Summer academies are four weeks long in the first two summers, and two weeks in the third summer.

During the academic year Fellows receive extensive support as they implement the yearlong Physics First curriculum in their 9th grade classrooms. Support includes professional learning communities for small-group teamwork, follow-up sessions, support from trained coaches or mentors, online peer collaboration, an online science education leadership seminar, online access to content experts and a classroom kit lending program.

Evaluation of the project occurs throughout, starting with baseline data collection in Spring 2010.

The application and selection process, activities, requirements and benefits are described in other sections.

Sec. 2. Activities

Application and Selection

The focus of this project is to develop teacher intellectual leaders who will act as resources and catalysts for reform in science education in general and freshman physics in particular in their buildings, districts and local communities. In keeping with this goal, we accepted two or three science teachers from each building as Physics First Fellows.

Criteria for selection include:

  • Schools and districts that agree to transition to offering physics to all freshmen.
  • Individuals/teams who have the greatest potential for intellectual leadership, as demonstrated by commitment to their own learning, their students’ learning, and improving their teaching effectiveness.
  • Teachers who teach a diverse group of regular, honors and special education students.
  • Teachers with five or more years teaching experience.
  • Preference to original Core Districts, assuming that individuals meet the above criteria.
  • We recommned two Fellows from each building. Up to three Fellows may be selected in larger buildings.

Pre-Academy Orientation Meeting:

All applicants selected to be Physics First Fellows attended a pre-academy orientation meeting, held on April 2010 and 2011 at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Summer Academies (held in June) :

The Summer Academies are intensive residential experiences that develop Fellows’ leadership and physics content knowledge over three years. They are held at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.

The Summer Academy curriculum is based on inquiry and modeling pedagogies and leadership training. Physics topics are aligned with Missouri Course Level Expectations (CLEs) and National Science Education Standards (NSES). The academies are team-taught by university faculty and experienced peer teachers. The physics content courses are organized as follows:

Year 1 (4 weeks): Electricity, Uniform and Accelerated Motion, Forces, Newton’s Laws

Year 2 (4 weeks): Applications of Newton’s Laws, Energy, Astronomy, Heat, Waves

Year 3 (2 weeks):

  • Track 1: for Praxis exam applicants: History of Science, Modern Physics, Magnetism and Electomagnetism, and additional topics
  • Track 2: Flexible scheduling includes practice in content leadership skills, learn to conduct PD, work on curriculum revision, produce electronic resources, revisit concepts, work on National Board Certification materials.

A one-week academy is scheduled for math teacher colleagues from Fellows’ districts along with a two-day administrator academy, both offered concurrently during the Fellows’ academy in years 1 and 2.

Academic Year

Academic year activities are designed to support Fellows as they implement the Physics First curriculum in their 9th grade classrooms. Fellows will:

  • Attend three face-to-face Saturday follow-up sessions that focus on content, pedagogy and leadership.
  • Fully participate in Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and online discussions.
  • Receive support from trained coaches/mentors.
  • Access a web-based learning community.
  • Utilize a kit-lending program for classroom sets of materials.
  • Receive direct access to knowledgeable project staff.
  • Attend Leadership in Science Education, a one-hour online seminar/course through MU.

Evaluation activities

Pre-post tests and surveys will occur throughout.

Sec. 3. Requirements

Below are the requirements for both Fellows and their districts for the five-year span of the project.

Requirements for Participating Teachers

  • Participate fully in the A TIME for PHYSICS FIRST project for five (5) years, from acceptance in 2010 through summer 2014. Project participation for both cohorts begins upon acceptance during 2009-10.
  • Conduct leadership activities for the duration of the project and provide documentation.
  • 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.
  • Cooperate fully with the evaluation team during the entire five (5) years of the project.

Summer Academy:

  • Attend three summer academies in sequence and in entirety:
    • Academy attendance begins in June of either 2010 or 2011, based on the Fellow’s assignment to Cohort 1 or Cohort 2, respectively.
    • Years 1 and 2 academies are four weeks long and Year 3 is two weeks long. Classes are held M-F, all day.
    • In 2010 the academy was held June 7-July 2. In 2011 the academy will be held June 6 – July 1. Future academies are planned for June each year.
  • While tuition is covered by the project, Fellows must pay MU student incidental fees, amounting to approximately $160 for four graduate credit hours for Years 1 and 2 and $80 for two credit hours in Year 3 (amounts are subject to change by the University Board of Curators). Fellows may seek school district support for this fee.

Academic Year

During each academic year (starting 2010-11 for Cohort 1; 2011-12 for Cohort 2):

  • Attend a pre-academy orientation meeting in April (in April 2010 for Cohorts 1 and 2; and in April 2011 for Cohort 2).
  • Attend three day-long follow-up meetings on Saturdays (April date in 2011 may conincide with pre-academy meeting for Cohort 2)
  • Participate fully in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), and document activities (approx. 45 hours).
  • Participate fully in regular online activities/discussion, meetings, mentoring throughout (approx. 80 hours).
  • Communicate with Coaches via classroom visits (Cohort 1) or with Mentors online (Cohort 2) (approx. 32 hours).
  • Attend a one-graduate credit Leadership in Science Education online seminar annually and pay related student incidental fees, approx. $30. (Tuition is covered by the project).

Evaluation activities

Participate fully in all project evaluation activities, including:

  • Collect student assents and parent consents every year, 2009 – 2014.
  • Administer pre- and post- content tests to students and report scores to the evaluators every year, 2009-2014.


  • Assure at least a working knowledge of computer basics (i.e., Internet navigation, word processing, Excel spreadsheets).
  • Agree to seek leadership activities and professional development opportunities outside of the Physics First project.
  • Agree that all materials provided, including kits, will be considered on loan to each Physics First Fellow until the completion of three years of coursework. After that time materials become the property of the Physics First Fellow. If a Fellow leaves the project prior to completion, materials and equipment must be returned to the project to be redistributed

Requirements for Core Partner District

Districts are expected to participate fully in the A TIME FOR PHYSICS FIRST project for five (5) years, through the end of summer 2014, by providing comprehensive support for Physics First Fellows and the project. Each core district is expected to:

For Teachers:

  • Provide Physics First Fellows with learning and leadership opportunities both on- and off-site during the school year (see [1] below).
  • Provide support for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), including meeting time and place (see [2} below).
  • Encourage teachers to apply for $1500 leadership grants from the Missouri Partnership for Educational Renewal (MPER), assisted by the project.
  • Provide appropriate technology in the physics classroom for the Fellow’s use (see [3] below).
  • Permit classroom visits by Physics First Coaches.
  • In general, advocate for Physics First Fellows.

For the Building/District

  • Commit to making 9th grade Physics a required course following a transition period of professional development.
  • Begin teaching a yearlong 9th grade Physics course using project-provided curriculum starting in the 2010-11 school year for Cohort 1 Fellows and 2011-12 for Cohort 2 Fellows.
  • Instruct guidance counselors, teachers and building principals to encourage students to take freshman physics during the 1-2 year transitional period, effecting transition to a required course.
  • Support appropriate data collection for evaluation and research purposes with regard to student participation in the project.

For the project

  • Designate a district contact person to be responsible for communication among the project, district and Fellows, including collection of evaluation-related documents, and recruitment of math and administrator academy participants.
  • Send a math teacher to attend Year 1 and Year 2 summer academies for five days and offer in-service credit or CEUs where appropriate.
  • Send an administrator representative to attend Year 1 and Year 2 summer academies for three days and offer in-service credit or CEUs where appropriate.
  • Partner districts may be invited to appoint a science teacher or administrator to serve on either the Curriculum Committee or Advisory Board.
  • Provide, in writing, a statement that any products created by the teacher through the project will remain the property of PF.

[1] examples of support include professional development days, seminars, workshops or meetings, to present to their peers what they have learned through participation in the project activities

[2] Districts may provide compensation if PLCs meet outside of contract time, or provide in-service time, or free up additional time.

[3] For example, computer, projector, and Internet connection as needed, and support from district IT staff. The project will provide each Fellow with either a laptop computer or a projector (Fellow’s choice).

Sec. 4. Benefits

Below are the benefits for both Fellows and their districts for the five-year span of the project.

Physics First Fellows will receive the following benefits:

  • Leadership, content and pedagogical training from experts in Physics and Science Education.
  • Enhanced knowledge and skills to serve as a leader in the profession at local, state and national levels.
  • Access to a yearlong physics curriculum for 9th grade.
  • Stipends – see stipend table below.
  • Graduate credit earned from University of Missouri; 10 hours in physics (4+4+2 over 3 summers) and three (one each year X three academic years) in Science Education.
  • A materials kit worth ~$2200 plus a laptop computer or a LCD projector (participant’s choice).
  • Air-conditioned dormitory room, board and travel support.
  • District-level support for implementation and support from administrators and math teacher colleagues.
  • Guidance and support toward National Board Certification, Praxis preparation.
  • University of Missouri graduate certificate (currently submitted to CBHE for approval).
  • Access to resources, technical support and evaluative tools during the academic year.
  • Access to and support from project’s Coaches or Mentors.
  • Partial support to attend and present project-related activities at professional conferences.
  • The project will provide support for Fellows to attend selected conferences (details will be provided as conferences are selected).

Core Partner School Districts will receive the following benefits:

  • Comprehensive professional development for participating teachers that includes content, pedagogy, and leadership training.
  • Curriculum for implementing a yearlong 9th grade physics course.
  • Broad academic year support, including project-trained coaches and mentors as Fellows implement the 9th grade physics course.
  • Financial support (stipends, tuition, etc.) for Physics First Fellows graduate credit, and support to attend professional meetings.
  • Resources and materials for use in teachers’ classrooms, including a kit-based lending program.