Ongoing Subject Matter

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Instructional Strategies

The topics that are explored in any science classroom could be taught in a multitude of ways. Physics 111 is unique because science topics are discovered with a commitment of ongoing subject matter. This means that the initial ideas students come into the class with are elaborated on and scaffolded upon on a daily basis. Student curiosity helps guide the course material. Each day, students ask questions, explore, document, and reflect upon what they are learning. So, although students may begin not knowing much about a topic, through this cycle of continuous learning, new knowledge is attained. Because of the class structure, a final answer can never simply be stated; there are always further questions that can be explored. In Physics 111, ongoing subject matter not only builds upon ideas within the same topic, but it also builds upon various ideas throughout the term, interlinking the science subjects.

With ongoing subject matter, the choice of topics is organized around a coherent whole, with each subject contributing toward the culmination of the course project. For example, when students in Physics 111 piece together information about light, reflection, and refraction, they develop powerful ideas about these phenomena. After learning the powerful ideas about light, students can then apply these ideas to other subjects, such as the phases of the moon. By first teaching the students about light, a stepping stone is placed for further knowledge to be understood. Students would not be able to fully comprehend how the moon travels, and why we see it the way we see it, unless they had background knowledge of how light travels, and how we see it the way we do.

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