PhysTEC AMTA Online Course

Methods of Teaching Physics I: Modeling Workshop in Mechanics is the first online course that PhysTEC is offering for pre service teacher education. The course is sponsored by the PhysTEC American Modeling Teachers Association (AMTA).

Methods of Teaching Physics 1(PHY 480/PHS 530): An inquiry approach to high school physics teaching that incorporates computer technology and insights from physics education research. Emphasis is placed on basic models and modeling in mechanics, developing skills in scientific discourse and presentation and assessment of student learning. This course is typically offered as a face-to-face summer course as a 3-week 90 contact hour workshop so that in-service teachers can participate.

This 45 contact hour distance learning version of the course sponsored by PhysTEC will cover the same content, and will include equivalent laboratory activities.  Rather than conducting the laboratory activities during the course, participants will be asked to complete the laboratory exercises on their own time in between weekly class meetings (the necessary laboratory equipment will be provided either by their home university or will be made available for loan through PhysTEC/AMTA). Students will engage in small group discussion both during and outside of class time.


Learn more about the course instructors


Registration closed on August 1. Registrants and those on the waiting list will be contacted within the next few weeks.

Course Prerequisites

2 semesters college physics.

Class Schedule

Wednesdays 7-10 pm ET, 6-9 pm CT, 5-8 pm MT, 4-7 pm PT. August 27, 2014 - December 10, 2014. No class November 26. Final Exam will be during class period on December 10.

Credit Options

A certificate of completion will be provided. If you are affiliated with a university, consult a faculty member at your university about possible arrangements to receive credit, for example through an independent study option. For an additional fee course credit may be received through Arizona State University, details TBA.


The Modeling Workshop in mechanics is a semester long course with these goals:

  1. Educate teachers in use of a model-centered, guided inquiry method of teaching high school physics.
  2. Help participants integrate computer courseware effectively into the physics curriculum.
  3. Help teachers make better use of national resources for physics education.
  4. Establish electronic network support and a learning community among participants.
  5. Strengthen local institutional support for participants as school leaders in disseminating standards-based reform in science education.


The main objective of the 1st online course in Modeling is to acquaint teachers with all aspects of the modeling method and develop some skill in implementing it. To that end, teachers are provided with a fairly complete set of written curriculum materials to support instruction organized into coherent modeling cycles (as described in Wells et al., 1995). The physical materials and experiments in the curriculum are simple and quite standard, already available in any reasonably equipped physics classroom.

To develop familiarity with the materials necessary to fully implement them in the classroom, we find that teachers must work through the activities, discussions and worksheets, alternating between student and teacher modes. Each of the nine units in the mechanics course manual includes an extensive Teacher Notes section. Throughout the course, teachers are asked to reflect on their practice and how they might apply the techniques they have learned in the course to their own classes.


The course flyer (80 kb .pdf)