PRISMS PLUS

developed by: Lawrence Escalada, Roy Unruh, Timothy Cooney, and master high school physics teachers

Level
 
middle schoolhigh schoolintro collegeinter-mediateupper levelgrad school   other


 Intro College Algebra-based
alg based
 Intro College Conceptual
conceptual

Topics
Mechanics  Electricity / Magnetism  Waves / Optics  Thermal / Statistical  Modern / Quantum
Setting
Lecture - Large (30+ students)  Lecture - Small (<30 students)  Recitation/Discussion Session  Lab  Studio


What? A high school physics curriculum and professional development program that uses a learning cycle pedagogy. High-interest activities integrate inexpensive and easily accessible materials with instructional technologies. Students explore physical phenomena before learning the underlying physics ideas.

Example materials

 

Curriculum outline

PRISMS PLUS Units and Learning Cycles:

Unit 1 FORCE AND MOTION
1 Kinematics
2 Making tracks
3 Accelerating Tracks
4 Vector Vector, What’s My Vector?
5 Relative Motion 6 Static Equilibrium
7 Inertia
8 Newton’s Second Law
9 Using Graphs to Understand Newton’s Second Law
10 Weight
11 Newton’s Third Law
12 Impulse and Change in Linear Momentum
13 Conservation of Linear Momentum
14 Projectile Motion

UNIT 2 WORK AND ENERGY
1 Work
2 Power
3 Conservation of Energy
4 Heat and Temperature
5 Change of Phase
6 Mechanical Equivalent of Heat
7 Ideal Gas Laws
8 Solar Energy

UNIT 3 WAVES AND OPTICS
1 Incandescence or Luminescence?
2 Inverse Square
3 Velocity, Frequency and Wavelength
4 Speed of Sound
5 Factors Affecting Frequency
6 Reflection
7 Refraction
8 Lenses
9 Image Size and Location
10 Diffraction and Interference
11 Color
12 Polarized Light

UNIT 4 ELECTRICITY, MAGNETISM, AND MODERN PHYSICS
1 Electrostatics
2 Electric Fields
3 Magnetic Fields
4 Electric Circuits
5 Ohm’s Law
6 Capacitors
7 Motors
8 Generator
9 Radioactive Decay
10 Spectra and Energy

Student skills developed

Designed for:
  • Conceptual understanding
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Making real-world connections
  • Using multiple representations
  • Designing experiments
Can be adapted for:
  • Lab skills
  • Metacognition

Instructor effort required

  • Medium

Resources required

  • Computers for students
  • Simple lab equipment
  • Advanced lab equipment

Developer's website: PRISMS PLUS

See the PRISMS Plus Website for details about how to order the Student & Teacher Materials CD ($100) and the CPU Activities CD ($60).

RESEARCH VALIDATION
Bronze Validation
This is the third highest level of research validation, corresponding to:
  • at least 1 of the "based on" categories
  • at least 1 of the "demonstrated to improve" categories
  • at least 1 of the "studied using" categories
(Categories shown below)

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • theories of how students learn
  • student ideas about specific topics

Demonstrated to Improve:

  • conceptual understanding
  • problem-solving skills
  • lab skills
  • beliefs and attitudes
  • attendance
  • retention of students
  • success of underrepresented groups
  • performance in subsequent classes

Studied using:

  • cycle of research and redevelopment
  • student interviews
  • classroom observations
  • analysis of written work
  • research at multiple institutions
  • research by multiple groups
  • peer-reviewed publication

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