Member InstitutionMember Institution University of Illinois

University of Illinois

University of Illinois Website

Institution Contacts

Gary Gladding
Mats Selen
Dr. Morten Lundsgaard
Tim Stelzer

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The Physics Department of the University of Illinois maintains a strong collection of programs to support efforts in science education.

Physics Teaching Concentration

We offer a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts and Sciences degree with a Physics Teaching Concentration that fulfills state certification requirements to teach both physics and general science.  Certification in other areas can also be earned.  This degree includes a Teacher Education Minor in Secondary School Teaching in the College of Education.  Ordinarily, students require five years to complete this program.  We generally graduate 3 – 5 students with this concentration each year.

Physics Education Research (PER) Group

This group was established as a result of our efforts to reform instruction in the introductory physics courses. Our interests span the spectrum from cognitive studies of student learning to the development and assessment of instructional materials.  Most course materials can be downloaded or otherwise accessed from the PER website.


Funded by the National Science Foundation, EnLiST is a partnership between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana School District #116, Champaign Unit 4 School District, and Thornton High School District #205. The EnLiST partnership aims to build the capacity of a new generation of science teacher leaders who, armed with cutting edge content knowledge, a strong pedagogical repertoire, and entrepreneurial spirit and mindset, can effectively contribute to the transformation of science teaching and learning in their classrooms, schools, and districts. EnLiST will focus on the areas of physics and chemistry at the high school level, and physical sciences at the middle and elementary school levels. EnLiST will start in the Summer of 2009 with an intensive 2-week content-based workshop aimed at high school chemistry and physics teachers. Middle and elementary school teachers will be brought into the program in subsequent semesters as learning networks are formed and the scope of the project broadens.

Physics 123

This course is an inquiry based physics class designed for students with little to no physics or mathematics background who are interested in developing a conceptual understanding of the world around them. The class is ideally suited for elementary education students seeking to improve their understanding of the physical science concepts stressed by the K-4 content standards. Topics include the nature of science, measurement and uncertainty, states of matter, heat and energy, forces and motion and electricity and magnets.  This course is offered every spring and has a typical enrollment of about 100 elementary education students.

Physics Van

The Physics Van is a traveling science road show for elementary school children and their teachers.  These shows demonstrate that science is fun and worthwhile for people who wonder about why the world acts the way it does.  These shows serve to challenge the kids' mental pictures of who can be a scientist.  This program is in its fifteenth year and has put on over 500 shows.