I just completed my first month of practice teaching high school science (including Physics). The amount of preparation required to teach Physics and Science is incredible, but when you are able to connect the students with the content the reward is definitely worth the long nights preparing the lessons.
From my perspective, the revised science curriculum in Ontario is focused on :
- enhanced scientific literacy of all students
- providing inquiry-based learning opportunities.
What does scientific literacy look like?
A great example of scientific literacy would be the new unit in Grade 10 science on Climate Change.
Since awareness is the first step in behavioural change, it is comforting to know that every student is going to be spending a few weeks examining climate change issues as they complete their high school education. I expect that my parents would have never expected to be sorting their waste on a daily basis, so everyday behaviour does take some time to occur and the interest in environmental education in North America is definitely on the rise. However, environmental education is nothing new in other parts of the world. In 2000, I had the opportunity to go trekking in the Annapurna region of Nepal, I remember spending an afternoon at a local school and the teachers explained to us that their students had a mandatory course on environmental education. The beauty of the mountains in Nepal is breathtaking and the educators ensured that their students did not take it for granted.
During my month of teaching, I wasn't about to teach the Climate Change unit, but I had fun teaching the Optics unit. With recent advances in medical and industrial applications of optics technologies I really enjoyed teaching the unit. I was able to discuss fiber optics, microscopic surgery, laser eye surgery, and other fun topics such as the physics of rainbows.
What is inquiry-based learning?
Inquiry based learning involves providing students with an environment for them to pose questions and discover answers without being provided directed instruction on how to obtain the answers. This teaching technique has many advantages and it can help create a generation of self-directed learners who are intrinsically motivated to learn science.
When I was interviewing new employees I was always looking for evidence of inquiry-based skills, so this skill is definitely a great asset for students on their way to college or university programs.