Thursday, March 23, 2017

Physics First Starter

Freshman getting data from photo-electric effect apparatus.
       The links below are resources used prior to and during the transition the "Physics First" science sequence at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School.

       The key dates during the implementation of the Physics First Sequence at McGill-Toolen.
Introduction to Physics First Presentation  
       This is the presentation used to the staff, administration school board and parents to explain "Physics First".
Action Research:       
        Research prior to, during and after the transition to "Physics First".  The focus is on learning about those programs that were managed well and successful.  We were also tasked to verify that the impact of the new sequence was not having a detrimental impact student outcomes.  In particular the outcomes relating to standardized tests (college entrance scores), Advanced Placement course selection and Advanced Placement Exam performance.
Pamphlet Info:          
        A pamphlet distributed to staff, parents & feeder schools which explained the "Physics First" program.  Introduced the new sequence to parents and new staff members.
Common Questions:  
       Common questions of parents and staff are answers in Q & A format

How Physics is Helpful:  
       A listing of reasons that all students benefit from taking Physics.
Blog Entry:                
       A one entry report on the status of the "Physics First" implementation.

In all the material above it is important to remember that the views expressed by me here, on any website or in any publication do not  represent the views of  
McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, 
Archdiocese of Mobile or any  part of the Universal Catholic Church.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Research and Experiences

ALAAPT14.pdf      Impact on AP, ACT & External Assessments 
   (T. Burgess....Presented at Alabama AAPT Section Meeting 2014)
APNC13Anal.pdf   Impact of Phyics 1st on AP Sciences 
   (T. Burgess....Presented at AP National Conference, Las Vegas 2013)
ReasMath12.pdf    Higher Math & Reasoning Scores Noted 
   (Schuchardt, Malone....Published at NARST Conference)
MTACT12.pdf       Higher ACT Scores as Physics First Implemented 
   (Tim Burgess, Kerry Goff, Rebecca Hyre....McGill-Toolen, Mobile AL)
MTAPEn13.pdf      Higher AP Enrollment & Performance
   (T. Burgess, K. Goff, R. Hyre....McGill-Toolen, Mobile AL)
MTAPBio11.pdf     AP Biology Students Learn More with Less!
   (T. Burgess & K. Goff, McGill-Toolen of  Mobile, AL)
MTChem10.pdf     Chemistry Students with Physics 9 Learn More
   (T Burgess, R. Hyre, K Goff,  McGill-Toolen of  Mobile, AL)
LHSRes10.pdf        Freshman Physics Higher CAT & FCI
   (Craig Bouma, Loyola HS of Los Angeles. Active Physics)
MTRes09.pdf         McGill-Toolen freshman learn more Physics
   (Tim Burgess. Modeling Instruction)
LHSRes08.pdf        Freshman Physics Higher in CA Assessments
   (Craig Bouma, Loyola HS of Los Angeles. Active Physics)
PFMaine09.pdf       Freshman students in Maine learn more Physics
   (M. O’Brien & J. Thompson, TPT. Modeling Instruction)
GoodDiss06.pdf     AP Science enrollment & performance (Brief Summary)
   (J. Goodman, Dissertation defended and accepted Rutgers Univ)
Briarwood08.pdf    Increased interest & performance in science
   (Barry Walker, Briarwood Christian School in Alabama)
RHSRes07.pdf        Increases in AP Science Enrollment
   (Ridley HS near Philadelphia. Modeling Instruction)
MountzD_06.pdf    Increased enrollment in elective advanced sciences
   (D. Mountz, Dissertation for Immaculata University)
LHReport08.pdf     Improved Regents & AP Physics Scores
   (Larry Hiller, New York. Modeling Instruction)
PFPSMath06.pdf    Math Score Improvement (public school)
   (JoAnne Deakin, Arizona. Modeling Instruction)
PFSATMath05.pdf    Math Score Improvement (private school)
   (Howard Glasser, Germantown Friends School. Hewitt text)
Physics1stKS03.pdf   Physics Freshman Exceed Seniors 
   (Earl Legleiter, Kansas. Modeling Instruction)
PFSMReas07.pdf       Improved Science & Math Reasoning
   (Anita Schuchardt, Kathy Malone, et al. Modeling Instruction)
PFAP2007.pdf        Improved AP Science performance
   (Tim Burgess. Modeling Instruction)
NSTAPres08.pdf       Data from National Science Teacher Ass. 2008
   (Several schools near Boston MA. Hewitt or Active Physics)

Research on educational change always have important caveats:   
       Numerous measures effectiveness may not capture the particular strength of a program.  Science tests may fail to detect deeper comprehension.  Tests can fail to recognize skills acquired during genuine science research (one example).
     Outstanding faculty will help students succeed even if the academic program is weak or incoherent.   Providing a logical, coherent and strong academic sequence may help maximize student achievement and deepen comprehension of science. Nothing can replace high quality & dedicated staff.  
        A school may also have aims other than instructional effectiveness.  Schools may, for example, seek to acclimate students to the college experience rather than maximize learning.  A school may focus on developing skills other than the intellectual skills associated with formal academic disciplines.
       The ability, work habits, interests and background of students may have an significant impact the gains associated with any program.  

     Below are some experiences and commentary by Nobel Prize Winners,  leaders and science educators who have experience in the change to "Physics First" sequence starting in high school:

  ClaytonHS1_03.pdf   Commentary by Rex Rice (Science Department Chair)
 Clayton HS2_03.pdf   Biology teachers on impact
 Clayton HS3_03.pdf  Chemistry teachers on impact
 Clayton HS99.pdf      Physics teacher on impact 
 PFPostTB08.pdf        Change and challenge
 FPComp05.pdf           Comments by teachers using new sequence 
PF02088.pdf              Recommendations from ARISE Conference 2002
PFRightUp05.pdf      TPT editorial by Ewald, Hickman & Myers
PTEC-07.pdf             PTEC Presentation by Paul Hickman
PFHakeJP06.pdf      American Assn. of Physics Teachers Brochure
HakeJP06.pdf           Science educator scholarly analysis
NobelPWLL01.pdf  Comments by Nobel Prize Winner
PFRice90.pdf           Comments by leader before change
AAPTFlyer06.pdf    American Assn. of Physics Teachers
JChEdPF02.pdf       Journal of Chem. Education article
BSCSCap.pdf           Biological Sciences Study Committee

I am a lifetime member of the
The success we had with "Physics First"
in my opinion was (at least in part)
due to the training our teachers obtained in
"Modeling as a way of teaching science."
One external indicator of success in Physics
in interscholastic competition....
Alabama Physics Competition Performance
prior to and since Physics First
Typical: 250-330 students compete with 50-70 teams of 4
top 10 individual students recognized with "Top Individual Awards"
Top 3 teams recognized in 3 different divisions

"Physics First"was implemented starting in the 
2008-9 school year.
Written records of McGill-Toolen participation in the
 University of Alabama High School Physics Competition
starts in 2001.

2001-8                     McGill-Toolen participated but had never had
                                    a team or individual winner at the competition

2008-11                    McGill-Toolen transitions to "Physics First"
2012 Winner          A McGill-Toolen Physics Student wins 
                                   "Top Individual Honors"
                                    & Full 4 Year Scholarship for 1st time ever
                                   for McGill-Toolen Catholic High School!

2012                           First Graduating Class with sequence 2011-12  
2013 Winners         Physics Teams from McGill-Toolen
                                     Win 1st & 2nd over ALL Teams in all divisions&                 
                                      School Wins First among ALL schools &
                                      Top Ranked Individual from McGill-Toolen!
2014 Winners         School and Team 1st among ALL schools in 2014!
                                         Two Top Individual Awards from McGill-Toolen
2015 Team Win     School & Team Winners in 2015 from McGill-Toolen
2016 Team Win     School & Team Winners in 2016 from McGill-Toolen
                                          First ever all female team to win overall (3rd Place)
2017 Team Win     School & Team Winners in 2017! 
                                     5 CONSECUTIVE YEARS!

In all the material above it is important to remember that the views expressed by me here, on any website or in any publication do not  represent the views of  
McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, 
Archdiocese of Mobile or any  part of the Universal Catholic Church.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Physics Team Victory in 2017!

       Since fully implementing Physics First in 2012 the Physics Team from McGill-Toolen has won 3rd place or higher among all schools at the regional (multi-state attended) University of Alabama High School Physics Competition (over the 5 of 6 years since). McGill-Toolen has won first in their division for 5 consecutive years.  Prior to the implementation of Physics First the school had participated but never won at the competition.
       All the Physics First classes were initially taught with Physics teachers trained in modeling.  Presently ALL of the Physics Team members on the winning teams (all past and present) went through the modeling based Honors Physics class as freshman (no exceptions in 5 years).  Five team members won individual medals (and qualified for a scholarship) in the last six years.
University of Alabama Ferguson Center 
January 27, 2017

        McGill-Toolen Catholic High School took part in the 41st annual University of Alabama High School Physics Competition at the Ferguson Center on Friday January 26th, 2017 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. There were more than 70 teams and 300 of the best senior level physics students from schools in Alabama and Mississippi.  The McGill-Toolen A-Team won first place in the Private School division and third place over all teams in all divisions.   McGill-Toolen was also awarded 3rd Place among all Schools in all divisions.
        The day of the competition began with a mass at Holy Spirit Parish in Tuscaloosa.   An hour later grueling individual physics tests were taken.  After the individual exams Dr. Keel (a competition sponsor) invited the McGill-Toolen Physics Team to look at sunspots seen forming through a solar viewer set up by the window in the Ferguson Center.  Soon afterward was the team cipher that lasted an hour and a half in the Ferguson Center ballroom.
        Teams are placed in divisions of small public schools, large public schools, private schools and science-math magnet schools. All divisions do the same problems at the same time and are rated based on correct answer and time of response.
        The McGill-Toolen A Team consisted of juniors Peter McDonald Patrick Spafford, Marvin Collins and Gus Grow.   This team was awarded first place in the "Private School Division" and won 3rd place among all schools in all divisions.  This is the 5th consecutive year that the McGill-Toolen A-Team has placed 1st in the Private School Division.  It is also the 5th consecutive year that the Physics Team has placed as one of the top three teams over all teams in all divisions at the competition.
       The C-Team won 3rd place in the Private School Division" and included sophomores Bekah Burgess, Findlay Maier, Mary Alice Jouves and freshman Buddy Arensberg.
        McGill-Toolen Catholic High School also won 3rd Place among all Schools in all divisions.  This is the fifth consecutive year that McGill-Toolen has placed among the top three schools among all schools at the competition.  Competitors representing McGill-Toolen Catholic High School included senior Josh Maier, juniors Peter McDonald,  Patrick Spafford, Marvin Collins and Gus Grow, sophomores Bekah Burgess, Mary Alice Jouves, Joseph Keegan, Nicholas Johnston.and freshman Murphy Douglas and Buddy Arensberg
         Perfect team competition rounds (correctly answering all 4 presented physics problems correctly in 40 seconds or less). Perfect team rounds were posted by Peter McDonald, Marvin Collins and Patrick Spafford.

Competition Action:
        The McGill-Toolen A-Team got off to a rough start and actually fell off the leader board for 3 of the 16 rounds for the first time in 5 years.  One always wonders how a team will respond to such adversity and our McGill-Toolen Competitors showed great composure, focus, persistence and skill as the McGill-Toolen A-Team roared back to the top of the "leader board".   Three consecutive A-Team competitors posted all perfect rounds (kudos to Marvin Collins, Patrick Spafford & Peter McDonald) in a breathtaking run of 12 consecutive perfect rounds (correct answers in the shortest possible time).   The McGill-Toolen A-Team went on to win an undisputed 1st Place in the Private School Division  (so I lose my hair again).  The A-Team tied with Oak Mountain and Auburn High Schools for 1st Place overall team in all divisions.  The McGill-Toolen A-Team was assigned 3rd place over all teams based on scholarship exam score tiebreaker  (Oak Mountain 73- McGill-Toolen 70- Auburn-70)

       The Award Ceremony is normally just a confirmation of what the scoreboard was at the end of the Cypher Competition.  This year was different and the ceremony was full of tension and excitement because tie breaks (individual exam scores) had to be used so often.  Our A-Team lost in a three-way tiebreaker to Auburn High School and Oak Mountain High School (all three teams scored 70 points) and was awarded 3rd place over all teams in all divisions.

       In our division the McGill-Toolen B-Team lost a 2nd place tie breaker with Indian Springs.  Our C-Team had the 3rd highest score in the division but was not awarded a placement. (McGill-Toolen 70, Indian Springs 43, McGill-Toolen B 43, McGill-Toolen C 40)

       Many schools do not come if they do not "project" winning so only the best programs show up on any given year.  This makes every year a struggle for those who come.
       After the competition and lunch there was a "Physicist Seminar" where Physicists in the workplace answer questions from students.  Then there was a Physics Demonstration show (which students always enjoy) and finally the Award Ceremony.
      Physics Team moderator Dr. Tim Burgess (McGill-Toolen Science Chair) noted "The talent and dedication of this team was extraordinary. This amazing performance is an accomplishment rare for any school from any region. Such consistency over half a decade occurs for only the very best of programs and speaks volumes about our students, their parents and our community."

      The McGill-Toolen performance is the direct result of the extraordinary talent, capability and work ethic of our very special students. The emphasis of McGill-Toolen in recent years on the synergistic relationship between faith and science has laid the ground work for the accomplishments of our outstanding science students. Success also springs from the support of our community as displayed in the fabulous facilities and resources our students enjoy while doing scientific reasoning day in and day out in the class room. Success is only possible with parental and community support!"

       Dr. Burgess stated "Physics is the gateway discipline to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers.  The amazing performance of our Physics Competitors in winning at statewide says something substantial about the preparation our students are getting in STEM related courses.  Students who learn to genuinely reason in science will certainly nurture more career options (including STEM careers) AND also develop a deep and vibrant faith.  Our success also springs from the support of our community as displayed in the fabulous facilities and resources our students enjoy while doing scientific reasoning day in and day out in the class room.  Success, as we had these last four years, is only possible with community support and we are very grateful!"

In all the material above it is important to remember that the views expressed by me here, on any website or in any publication 
do not  represent the views of  McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, 
Archdiocese of Mobile or any  part of the Universal Catholic Church.