Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 1999

U.Va. remains in top 25 in U.S. News rankings

U.Va. offers nation's first Master of Arts in Physics Education
U.Va. construction: 183 years, and counting
Researchers make strides over the summer

Hot Links

U.Va. keepsakes evoke stories of Hoos past
After Hours
Faculty Actions
'A Portrait of Marriage' exhibit on display
Nominations sought
Faculty and Employee Assistance Program


U.Va. offers nation's first Master of Arts in Physics Education

By Nancy Hurrelbrinck

With the recent introduction of a new program for high school physics teachers, the University became the first school in the country to offer a Master of Arts in Physics Education.

"There's a tremendous need out there," said Richard Lindgren, research professor of physics and the program's director, noting that less than a third of high school physics teachers in Virginia have an undergraduate degree in physics.

Rebecca Arrington
High school physics teacher Trudy Gentry of Mecklenberg County and recent Norfolk State graduate Daron Moore, who plans to teach high school physics, give their presentation on transmitting sound by light to faculty and fellow participants of U.Va.'s new MAPE program Aug. 13.

The MAPE program is designed to give the teacher-students an opportunity to learn the subject thoroughly, he said. It covers understanding concepts and "learning to explain the physics of how things work without using complex equations." This summer, 23 students enrolled.

The curriculum is tailored to meet the needs of adult students with full-time teaching jobs. The three core courses, Classical and Modern Physics I, II and III, are each begun during four intensive weeks over three subsequent summers and then can be completed at a slower pace during the rest of the year. MAPE students must take at least 21 credits in physics and up to nine in education courses to complete their degree.

In the fall, students will receive an assignment and meet for a discussion section at U.Va. once a month, completing the course in December, Lindgren said.

In either the fall or spring semester, students take an independent elective, "How Things Work," based on U.Va. physics professor Louis Bloomfield's popular course, watching 40 lectures on videotape and using a class web site to get their homework, which they submit via e-mail.

The new MAPE degree builds on the success of a summer program for middle and high school teachers called RECET (Research Experience and Curriculum Enhancement), that is funded by the National Science Foundation and conducted by the U.Va. Physics department, the School of Engineering and the Curry School of Education. For the last three years, RECET has offered teachers the chance to conduct research with a professor or research scientist for five weeks at one of nine laboratories scattered throughout the state.

After conducting research, the teachers gather at U.Va. for two to four weeks to discuss pedagogy and develop labs for their students. Trudy Gentry, who has a B.S. in mathematics and has taught physics at Parkview High School in South Hill for 18 years, said participating in RECET has greatly enriched her teaching.

"My mentor [at Jefferson Lab in Newport News] was an expert in electronics, and we measured the effect of radiation on electronics in one of the lab's experimental halls," she said. "Since working there, I've created labs on radiation that my students could do with inexpensive materials."

Gentry was one of 17 teachers who were enrolled in RECET last summer and who plan to transfer credits from the program toward completing the MAPE degree in December 2000, Lindgren said.


© Copyright 1999 by the Rector and Visitors
of the University of Virginia

UVa Home Page UVa Events Calendar Top News UVa Home Page