Posted on Physics First List Serve:
From: "Laurance Hiller" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2008 20:10:15 -0400
My name is Larry Hiller and I teach physics in North Tonawanda NY (just
North of Buffalo). I have been teaching NY Regents physics, AP
Mechanics and AP Electricity for 11 years. I have been a fan of the
Physics First Model for over a decade but I had a hard time convincing my
district it was the way to go. Three years ago I got a new principal
that trusted my judgment and had faith in me based on my past results and
I began teaching a section of NY Regents physics for 9th graders.
This is the exact same course that most schools in my area only offer to
11th and 12th graders, taught at the exact same pace as the course I offer
to my older students. These 9th graders are not advanced students. My
principal is philosophically committed to improving our school by "moving
the middle," by which he means to motivate and stimulate the average
students in our school. Thus, my 9th grade candidates are picked from a
pool that score a 2 or 3 out of 4 on the state's 8th grade math
My results have been great. The first year I had 15 students, and had
96% pass and 35% mastery on the state test. Last year I had 16 students
and 100% passed and 45% had mastery. This year I have 18 students in
the class and they are doing great.
Most of the students are going to chemistry after physics and then going
to biology and will then go into earth science as seniors. The students
are staying together through these classes and their teachers are taking
advantage of their knowledge base and adding lots of enrichment to their
programs. Some of my 9th grade students stay with me and take AP
mechanics as sophomores! Last year of the 5 sophomores that took it 4
got credit. This year, those 5 students are in AP electricity. This
year I have 5 more sophomores in mechanics.
I am fairly active in my local physics teaching community and have shared
my results with my colleagues. I only last week heard about this forum
and wanted to share my experiences.
I not only whole-heartedly support physics for 9th
graders, but I support
it in a non-watered-down format.