Physics is the area of science in which we study how things work. Physical science looks at motion, energy, machinery (and it might surprise you as to what is considered a machine). Physicists look at lightwaves, sound waves, radio waves, magnetism and more. Physics or physical science is really the most enjoyable to teach for me because it is the easiest to demonstrate and usually gives students lots of feeling of success. Physics is a very visual science which is taking place all around us every moment of every day. Physics is also, to my mind the easiest of the sciences with which to link mathematical, geometric and algebraic formulas. To study physical science, we don’t need to travel to an Andean rain forest or Antarctica. All we need to do is look around the classroom, home, playground, etc. Sadly, this branch of science can often get overlooked in curriculum which tends to be life and earth science centered.
Here are some nifty websites I’ve discovered which have been designed by some of the best physicists in the business. When I want to teach a subject, I believe it’s best to go to the top to get information. So I’ve compiled a list of links to organizations who we know are the best in the business, of physics that is.
NASA probably no one will disagree that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is kind of a leader in physics? But I always worry that the most learned and academic aren’t always the most erudite; in fact scholars and scientists can be pretty boring. but this website from NASA is written for kids and lay people. It consists of a series of mysteries which kids solve using principles of physical science. There is a whole free downloaded educator’s guide with activities and worksheets, an experts’ corner, research links, media links and at home experiments. Students can access all this at school or at home. And it’s free to use and print. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (there is a link for a free download).
National Air and Space Museum This museum is part of the Smithsonian museum complex, the largest museum in the United States. Currently on display are the Wright Brothers 1903 plane, a replica of Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega and many other important airplanes. This site offers virtual tours as well as materials for educators. It is a beautiful website with excellent graphics. This museum is the premiere source for all flight related physics materials.
Smithsonian This site is a huge online encyclopedia of information, visuals, interviews, demonstrations and tours based upon the exhibits of the Smithsonian Institute. It contains reference material on all the many and varied and collections
Smithsonian Education This site is the place to find complete educator packets, lessons, activities, online lessons, professional development and so much more for teachers and students. This site is a huge clearinghouse of information lessons and printables. All activities are created to be usable and adaptable to all grades. Smithsonian is directly linked to state and federal standards of education and curriculum. Texts and standards are cross-referenced so that an educator can clearly see where and how the information is linked to the texts in use.
The Illinois Institute of Technology has developed the Smile foundation which provides free printable lessons for many physics subjects. They are user-friendly, contain clear specific instructions and lots of hands-on activities.
MIT is of course the leader in universities of higher education. While I didn’t find printables, I did find a link to free video lectures, demonstrations and interviews that students could really benefit from in their physical science studies.
The Nobel Prize offers really up to date, scholarly physical science lessons. This site features online games developed around the work of the Noble Laureates. The prize is awarded in physics annually. This site is an excellent reference for interactive physics activities
I hope these materials help in your classroom, home-school or other physics lessons.