Physics for James Lick High School

We, the members of the Northern California and Nevada Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (NCNAAPT), are concerned about the inequity of physics education at James Lick High School for the 2018-2019 school year. Recently Principal David Porter decided to cut all physics classes for 2018-2019 at James Lick High School. Physics education opportunities in the East Side Union High School District will be unequal if the physics programs at James Lick High School are cut. While not every James Lick High School student is interested in physics, each student deserves the same opportunity to learn physics as peers at other East Side Union High School District high schools. To deny only the students at James Lick High School the opportunity to take physics is unilaterally limiting their future opportunities. As a professional society of physics teachers, we were appalled to hear that restricting students’ opportunities was even considered.

In the East Side Union High School District 50% of students qualify for the Free And Reduced Lunch Program while over 80% of the James Lick High School students qualified in the 2016-2017 school year. James Lick High School’s School Accountability Report Card (SARC) for the 2016-2017 school year had over 85% students classified as socioeconomically disadvantaged. This means James Lick High School has the second highest population of socioeconomically disadvantaged students and the highest percentage of Hispanic/ Latino students in the district.

The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) made the following statement about Physics education in this May 2015 Executive Board statement:

“The American Association of Physics Teachers is committed to increasing access to physics courses and physics related careers for all individuals including people of all races, religions, national origins, sexual orientations, ethnicities, genders and gender identities, physical appearances and abilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, regions, immigrant statuses, and military or veteran statuses.”

As part of the “National Task Force On Teacher Education In Physics Preparing High School Physics Teachers To Build A 21st Century Stem-Capable Workforce,” all signatories said that “All US students should have the opportunity to take at least one year of a high quality physics course in high school.”

The members of the American Physical Society, a council of professionals concerned with the fields of science, made the following statement in 2013:

“The American Physical Society calls upon local, state and federal policy makers, educators and schools to:

  • Provide every student access to high-quality science instruction including physics and physical science concepts at all grade levels; and
  • Provide the opportunity for all students to take at least one year of high-quality high school physics.”

The East Side Union High School District School Board’s published Core Values lists equity first: “Equity:  We allocate resources, develop practices, and cultivate mindsets to ensure that every student meets or exceeds standards.” Superintendent Funk leads off his online biographical statement with “Education is the great equalizer. As Superintendent, I recognize that our greatest challenge is to ensure that every student will meet or exceed grade level standards based on local, state or federal assessments. This must be our mantra. However, our educational system has become one of privilege and not one of a right that every child deserves, especially low-income students of color.” To restrict equal access to James Lick High School students goes against its own district values.

While AAPT advocates for equal physics learning opportunities for all students, James Lick High School students will be losing the opportunity they already have. Creating an environment in which students are limited to only reaching the minimum graduation requirement, two years of science classes, their entire educational career is limited. The opportunity to learn basic physics will help students to learn introductory content in fields like electrical engineering, computer science, structural architecture, product research, and most of the careers employed in the local Silicon Valley, such as at the Google campus that recently opened. Most science and technology related jobs require a basic understanding of physics, and most science majors will require at least one course for graduation.

Physics courses are often less expensive to maintain than other science courses like chemistry or biology, which require consumable purchases each year like chemicals and dissection specimens. Most physics equipment can be used for decades once purchased, and many lab programs can be run on simple, inexpensive materials like string, meter sticks, and stopwatches. The Next Generation Science Standards, adopted nationwide as a modern framework for teaching science, includes physics as a core science along with chemistry, earth science and biology. While ideally students take four years of science, the state of California has created a three year model in which earth science is included in the other three. This shows that even the state of California could not cut physics from its minimum list.

At our April 14th, 2018 meeting, the membership unanimously voted to draft this letter of support regarding continuing the physics program at James Lick High School in the interest of equity and access. Over seventy local Physics teachers from local high schools, colleges, educational programs and universities, were in attendance. In the interests of equity and opportunity, we strongly encourage the administration of James Lick High School to reverse the decision to cut their physics program..

 

Sincerely,

Valerie Monticue, NBCT        President of NCNAAPT

David Marasco, Ph.D.              National Section Rep, NCNAAPT

The Northern California/ Nevada Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers

We are at Contra Costa College in April!

We’ll be at the Contra Costa College on April 13/14 for our spring conference. We’ll have a social event on Friday, and on Saturday we’ll have our main event.

We are very excited to have John Collins, the Paper Airplane Guy as our invited speaker.  Watch his fun videos at www.youtube.com/user/ThePaperAirplaneGuy 

Here’s our Saturday schedule, we’ll meet in GE-225:
  • 8:00 Registration/Posters Doors will open at 8, come and hang with physics teachers, and check out posters.  We have removed the abstract submitting process, if you have something you want to share that fits on a wall, bring it and show it!
  • 9:00 Morning Workshop Slot We have three workshops in our morning slot.  Both Vernier and PASCO will have representatives demoing their latest, and Bernard Cleyet will tell us about radioactivity experiments.
  • 10:00 – 11:15 Invited Speaker – John Collins He’ll talk about things you can fold and throw.
  • 11:15-12 Group Photo plus Short Business Meeting We’ll take a picture of all of the cool people who attended (administrators sometimes like to look at those) and then hold a business meeting.
  • 12:00-1:30 Lunch NCNAAPT is synonymous with tacos for lunch. We’ll have an array of topic tables for discussion groups.
  • 1:30-2:30 Panel – Incorporating educational technology into your teaching Dan Burns, Bree Barnett-Dreyfuss and Jon Celesia  will share their wisdom and scars as it regards what has and hasn’t worked for them as they’ve implemented new technologies into their classrooms.
  • 2:30-3:30 Afternoon Workshop Slot We have the PocketLab folks showing us their latest, Mike McCusker will tell us about microwave ovens, and Lee Trampleasure will walk us through best practices for social advocacy.
  • 3:30-4:30 Share&Tell We end with our classic Share&Tell where people show the cool things that they are doing to teach physics. Bring a demo!

If you are interested, but have issues around taking care of loved ones on Saturdays, we have mini-grants that cover dependent care.  Read here for details: http://ncnaapt.org/archives/2948

Here’s what Google says about getting to Contra Costa College: Map

It is never too early to think about carpooling: https://www.groupcarpool.com/t/ts4djx

 

Berkeley 7 Series Articulation Issues

On September 1, 2017, Aurelia Long, Berkeley Articulation Officer, provided the update on policies concerning articulating to Cal’s Physics 7 series.  Needless to say, it raised some concern.

From: Aurelia Long
Date: September 1, 2017 at 3:57:17 PM HST
Subject: [ciac] For CCC AOs: Physics articulationDear CCC AOs,On behalf of UC Berkeley’s Physics Department faculty, I want to update you on the status of an articulation re-evaluation.  We have begun to see a problematic trend, primarily from transfer students in engineering and the biological sciences who completed non or inadequate calculus based physics at a community college.  Completion of physics classes without proper calculus preparation has proven to be a significant problem for students continuing their education here at UC Berkeley and beyond. Therefore, a review was conducted to determine/confirm pre-requisites and course content necessary for articulation with UC Berkeley Physics 7A, 7B, and 7C. As a result, all community college courses with inadequate calculus prerequisites which are currently articulated with the Physics 7 series will end, effective Fall 2018. However, students who have completed currently articulated physics classes prior to Fall 2018 will be grand-fathered in for a period of 3 years.We are committed to seeing all transfer students get adequate preparation for their UC Berkeley degrees and their future goals. In order to do this, we must ensure that the courses that have/gain an articulation are, in fact, equivalents of our courses. We hope to continue to work with you to establish and maintain articulation with the Physics series. If in the future your courses are updated and/or if you add calculus supplements that students could take along with their physics courses, we encourage you to submit these courses for articulation review as soon as possible.For your reference, the catalog description and associated prerequisites for is copied below:

PHYSICS 7A Physics for Scientists and Engineers 4 Units, Mechanics and wave motion.

Prerequisites: High school physics; Math 1A Calculus; Corequisite: Math 1B Calculus

PHYSICS 7B Physics for Scientists and Engineers 4 Units, Heat, electricity, and magnetism.

Prerequisites: 7A, Math 1A Calculus; Math 1B Calculus; Corequisite: Math 53 Multivariable Calculus

PHYSICS 7C Physics for Scientists and Engineers 4 Units, Electromagnetic waves, optics, relativity, and quantum physics.

Prerequisites: 7A-7B, Math 1A Calculus; Math 1B Calculus, Math 53 Multivariable Calculus; Corequisite: Math 54 Linear Algebra and Differential Equations

Descriptions of the content of the required math and physics course courses can be found in the Berkeley course catalog (http://guide.berkeley.edu).

Thank you for your continuing partnership and fabulous efforts on behalf of our community college students.

Aurelia

​Aurelia Long

Articulation Officer

University of California, Berkeley

Central Evaluation Unit

At the Fall 2017 NCN-AAPT meeting, a group of TYC Physics faculty met and discussed what questions needed to be asked, and what actions could be taken.

Andrew Park received clarification on some of these issues from Claudia Trujillo of the Cal Physics department.  Importantly:

 * Requiring high-school physics as prereq is not an issue UC Berkeley Physics Department cares about. Yes, the requirement has been on UC Berkeley course catalog for Physics 7 series for a long time, but UC Berkeley also does not—and is unable to—enforce it, if a student who has not taken high school physics wants to take Physics 7A.
 * The biggest issue is alignment in the math requirement (Math 1A prerequisite and 1B co-requisite for Physics 7A, Math 53 co-requisite for Physics 7B, and Math 54 co-requisite for Physics 7C), and that the physics content is taught with this level of mathematics. This is because of issues they have had with transfer students struggling in upper-division coursework (for example, depending on how it is taught, it is possible for some students to transfer without having solved a differential equation in quantum-mechanics context, which would make it difficult for the students to catch up at the upper-division level).
Ms. Trujillo will facilitate a meeting between the appropriate Cal faculty and a working group of TYC Physics faculty.  If possible, this meeting will be available via teleconference.
Some outstanding issues:
* Timing – We have been asked to complete these changes by Fall 2018.  While pathways exist, many of us needed to get changes like this into our systems last Spring.  We would like to get an extension to Fall 2020. [This may have been addressed in the Nov. 21 update]
* Units – The addition of higher-level math classes may upset unit counts on pre-existing ADTs, many of which are already at their limits.
* Content via COR – Couldn’t many of these issues be handled via modification of COR rather than math pre-reqs?  For example, stating that volume integrals of non-uniform charge densities will be covered in E&M rather than requiring the corresponding math class?
* Impact of these new requirements on quarter-system schools – Foothill, De Anza and Lake Tahoe are on quarters.  All use first-quarter calculus as a pre-req for their 7A equivalents.  It would be onerous to require two quarters of calculus before starting Mechanics.  As the second and third quarter transfer in tandem (not course-for-course), how should the math pre-reqs be sorted here?
November 21 Update
Andrew Park received another round of clarification from Claudia Trujillo:
 * There is an update coming out through Aurelia’s articulation office, including a push-back of deadline dates. She couldn’t give a timeline on when it would come out, other than that the information is already at the articulation office.
 * For a meeting between physics faculty, it is too late this semester to schedule one, but if there is a need, a meeting can be scheduled in Spring 2018, likely towards the end of the semester.
She also wanted me to convey a message: UC Berkeley is committed to the success of transfer students. Transfer students are an important part of UC Berkeley (as you know, about 1/3 of UC Berkeley undergraduate students) and serving them well is an important part of UC Berkeley’s mission. None of these changes (which aren’t really changes, in terms of what UC Berkeley has always required of its own students) are meant to impose on community colleges, but rather they are coming from a desire to prepare students better and bridge the gap many transfer students experience after transferring.

We are at CCSF in November!

Save the date, we’ll be at the City College of San Francisco for our fall conference.  We’ll have a social event at the Mission Science Workshop on the evening of Friday, November 3, from 6-9 (your arrival and departure times are flexible).   On Saturday the 4th, we’ll have our main event.  Pre-registration has closed, dues will be $25 at the door.

The Saturday highlights include a Q&A with science author Mary Roach, San Jose State’s Brian Holmes on the Physics of Music, a memorial demo show honoring Paul Doherty and an expert panel on how to best serve our transgendered students.  And, of course, there will be a poster session, lots of tacos and Share & Tell. Continue reading “We are at CCSF in November!”

Spring Meeting – Mt. Diablo HS – April 28/29

We’ll be in Concord for our Spring Meeting!

Our keynote speaker is Jessie Dotson, project scientist for NASA’s K2 Mission.  Invited Speaker Jessie DotsonPictured to the right, she’ll tell us about recent Kepler results.  We’ll also have all of the other things that make our meetings so much fun,  Share&Tell, a panel, workshops and we are bringing back the poster session. If you paid dues last Fall, registration is free (we’ll send you an email with a discount code), otherwise dues are $20 through Wednesday night, $25 at the door. Click here to register for the main event: http://ncnaapt.org/event-registration?ee=39 Continue reading “Spring Meeting – Mt. Diablo HS – April 28/29”

In Memoriam – Elender Wall

I’m very sad to report the daughter of one of our longtime members and contributors Dave Wall of City College of San Francisco, Elender Wall, passed away last Monday evening from complications of thyroid cancer.  She was 47 years old.  Dave was well-known for his demos that involved magic tricks, and years later his daughter Elender joined our ranks. Despite her musical training in voice at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, she degreed in physics and went on to edit and distribute Dave’s textbook Introductory Physics: A Problem-Solving Approach.  Continue reading “In Memoriam – Elender Wall”

Fall Meeting is at Cal – October 21/22

We are returning to Berkeley for our Fall meeting!

Friday October 21

For those that are driving in the night before, or folks who just like to hang out with other physics teachers, we’ve got some Friday night events.  We’ll meet at 6 at Pyramids Restaurant: http://www.pyramidsrestaurantandgrill.com/.  They feature Egyptian fare, but of course you can always get a burger.  At 8 we’ll be at the telescopes at the Chabot Science Center:  http://www.chabotspace.org/observatories.htm Continue reading “Fall Meeting is at Cal – October 21/22”