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University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin
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The Physics Teaching Option at UT Austin
At the University of Texas at Austin, students interested in teaching physics are invited to join UTeach, our acclaimed program for the preparation of mathematics, science, and computer science teachers. Texas certifications involving physics include Math/Physics, Physical Science, and Composite Science. Certifications are available for for High School (grades 8-12) and Middle School (grades 4-8).
Some elements that make UTeach attractive to students include
- All students in the College of Science are recruited to join UTeach; they receive a letter about it upon admission, hear about it during orientation, and receive additional invitations during mailings each year, from presentations before students groups, and from newspaper and television reports.
- UTeach begins with field experiences in public school classrooms supervised by experienced Master Teachers, and these field experiences continue throughout the program.
- UTeach students have access to a wide range of student financial support. UTeach reimburses students for the tuition associated with the first two one-hour courses. UTeach students have access to internships, which are jobs paid for by UTeach enabling students to work with nonprofit educational activities such as after-school tutoring, museums, or preparation of curriculum.
- Students have a voice in UTeach through a student organization. Regularly scheduled activities and events build a sense of identity and camaraderie among UTeach students and provide formal space to voice opinions.
- UTeach provides its graduates mentoring and help after graduation through activities such as continued personal contacts, online support systems, periodic workshops back at the university, and the opportunity to obtain advanced degrees.
Physics majors can enroll in the Physics Teaching Option, which makes it possible to obtain an undergraduate degree in physics and a Texas secondary teaching certification in four years.
The Physics Department at UT Austin has a long history of participation in outreach activities. Members of the Physics department helped originate the movement towards discovery learning. The department has long supported a Physics Circus that travels to area schools, and offers a Saturday Morning Physics Workshop twice a year to area physics teachers and students. Members of the Department helped to found and for many years helped to organize the Texas State Science and Engineering Fair, and are currently closely involved with the Southwestern Regional Finals of the Siemens Competition. The Department has often sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and most faculty are glad to sponsor undergraduate researchers in their laboratories.
In collaboration with UTeach, the Physics Department periodically offers summer courses for cohorts of inservice Physics teachers through the UTeach Master of Arts in Science and Mathematics Education.
As of Spring 2013 there are 20 physics majors enrolled in UTeach. In the 2012-2013 academic year 3 completed the program. An additional 5 students completed UTeach with physics as a second field; they were chemistry, engineering, and mathematics majors.
If we take into account all students recommended for Texas certification to teach physics, the numbers rise to 25 in 2012-2013 and 31 in 2011-2012. Most of these not previously mentioned are biology majors with physics as their third or fourth field.
UTeach in collaboration with the Cockrell School of Engineering was given a Math Science Partnership grant to create UTeachEngineering. Goals of the grant include preparing up to 10 physics majors per year with certification to teach physics, engineering, and mathematics. After several years of effort, it appears that despite the possibility of substantial scholarship support, we will undershoot this mark.
Another substantial initiative concerns a sequence of new science courses for future elementary teachers. They are taught using inquiry techniques and provide an integrated overview of physics, chemistry, biology, and earth sciences. Physics faculty are playing a leading role in developing and offering these courses, and recently renovated space in the Physics building provides the main classroom environment.