Here is a list of useful resources for physics teaching:

Simulations and Computer Modeling

The National Science Digital Library just announced the creation of a new web resource for finding curriculum resources.

The Open Source Physics Collection provides curriculum resources that engage students in physics, computation, and computer modeling. Computational physics and computer modeling provide students with new ways to understand, describe, explain, and predict physical phenomena. The materials in the collection connect computational simulations, models, and tools with curricular resources

National Science Digital Library resources

Browse all the multidisciplinary resources at the National Science Digital Library in a new browsing interface.

Videos of Physics Demonstrations

A very interesting project called Physics Teaching Web Advisory has videos of physics demonstration and, even more interestingly, a way to ask master teachers about how they teach particular concepts in physics. You type in a question and it searches for the closest answer (which might not be that close) and a video comes up with the master teacher telling how they teach that topic and what demonstrations they use. Neat! One negative — it doesn’t seem to be well supported on Mac or browsers other than IE yet.

There is also a very nice set of over 200 physics demonstrations compiled at Weber State University. You have to actually download it from PASCO, but click here to see some samples of what’s available. Many seem to be pretty basic, but there is quite a range and the production quality is very high

List of Physics Resources

Pat’s Picks had a great comprehensive list of online physics resources, including physics education research, online magazines, pre-college science resources, astronomy instruction, and more. Bookmark this one, it’s a very nice list!

Here’s a totally cool output from my old “alma mater”: the Exploratorium Digital Library Afterschool Project. This website has fantastically simple videos on how to do a selection of cool activities that the creative folks at the Exploratorium have come up with over the years. The point of this particular website is to promote activities to be done after school, but really, these activities can be used for a variety of different purposes. And they’re just really neat.

This is part of the Exploratorium’s Digital Library, a collection of digital resources from the Exploratorium for use by educators. This is a fantastic service, if you’re an educator or not!

Another neat resource for educators is the National Science Digital Library’s Content Clips — which lets educators build their own collection of digital resources for use in the classroom. Here’s what the NSDL says about it:

Content Clips is a free, interactive web environment that features compelling online resources for K-12 teachers, including images, sounds, and video clips to help build student understanding of science concepts and the natural world. It offers easy-to-use tools (no programming required), a growing multimedia collection, an “add-your-own-clip” feature, and a simple way to combine and arrange online content from multiple sources into customized presentations or learning activities. The interactive fossil sort, used as part of an assessment probe activity and the electronic storybooks in the most recent issue of the Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears magazine, illustrate how teachers can use Content Clips to create their own classroom interactives. Note that Content Clips requires Adobe Flash.

Hey, I just stumbled upon this very useful list of blogs from the National Science Digital Library — all having to do with education, digital technology, and inquiry, among other things. If you’re a STEM educator (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering & Math education, definitely check out this list. What a find!

Also check out the Top 100 Education Blogs… those are organized by topic,

College | E-Learning | Education News | Education Policy | Internet Culture | Learning | Library and Research | Specialty | Teaching | Technology

This just in… some physicists tried to negotiate a Wiki-friendly rights agreement with a big physics journal (Physical Review Letters). It seems that posting ones’ work on Wikipedia violates copyright agreements as currently written, because that counts as a “derivative work”. The journal decided not to publish the paper, but the physicists have gotten the journal to review its copyright policy. You can read the Slashdot article or the New Scientist article.

I think it’s a good thing to move towards more public access to scientific work — within certain limits. After all, the public is paying for the lion’s share of much of this work (through taxpayer dollars that go to the NSF and other grant-funding agencies), and yet it’s incarcerated inside expensive little journals that are only available to academics. There is an entire Open Source movement for scientific work, which exists in a couple of forms. One simply aims to publish scientific work in freely-accessible journals — termed “open access”. Blog Around the Clock has a whole section on Open Access.

Another interesting form of Open Source is through the Creative Commons folks themselves (they’re the ones who make the open-copyright licenses for using works, such as music, freely). They’ve got a site called Science Commons which aims to make the tools necessary for creating science more freely accessible — such as data and custom-created software. They’ve created a beta proof-of-concept website for Neuroscience.

From their website:

Many scientists today work in relative isolation, left to follow blind alleys and duplicate existing research. Data is balkanized — trapped behind firewalls, locked up by contracts or lost in databases that can’t be accessed or integrated. Materials are hard to get — universities are overwhelmed with transfer requests that ought to be routine, while grant cycles pass and windows of opportunity close. It’s not uncommon for research sponsors to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in critically important efforts like drug discovery, only to see them fail.

The consequences in many cases are no less than tragic. The time it takes to go from identifying a gene to developing a drug currently stands at 17 years — forever, for people suffering from disease.

Science Commons has three interlocking initiatives designed to accelerate the research cycle — the continuous production and reuse of knowledge that is at the heart of the scientific method. Together, they form the building blocks of a new collaborative infrastructure to make scientific discovery easier by design.

Making scientific research “re-useful” — We help people and organizations open and mark their research and data sets for reuse. Learn more.

Enabling “one-click” access to research materials — We help streamline the materials-transfer process so researchers can easily replicate, verify and extend research. Learn more.

Integrating fragmented information sources — We help researchers find, analyze and use data from disparate sources by marking and integrating the information with a common, computer-readable language. Learn more.

Hey, the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) has a new podcast, called Lab Out Loud, just for science teachers. It looks like they’re trying to serve the professional development needs of teachers much like I have with my Science Teaching Tips podcast. You can check out their podcast at

I think this is a great way to get content out to busy science teachers. Their podcasts are longer than mine (around 30 minutes), and it looks like they’re mostly based on interviews with people who have something to do with science education. Let us know what you think!

wiki.jpgI just have to add a plug for an amazing resource, the Wikimedia Commons. I try to use open-source images on this blog, and this is where I get them. They’ve also been really valuable to us at the Exploratorium in terms of getting images that we don’t have to pay to use — it includes a lot of scientific images. Many images that are part of US government funded research projects are automatically part of the public domain. How great!

Wikimedia also includes, of course, Wikipedia, Wikinews, and Wikibooks. I’d be curious to hear people’s opinions on any of these, or other Wikimedia sites.