Why do I want to write a curriculum that gives emphasis to physics in everyday life? I work with a population of students who are identified at risk of academic failure due to low socio-economic, cultural and linguistic reasons. The population of students in my school is over 70 % Hispanic first and second generation in the United States. Although, Hispanics in their country of origin have developed and use technology and science, this is a group that is underrepresented in the sciences in the United States. I hope that my involvement in learning about physics, developing and teaching a curriculum unit will serve as a model for further implementation of scientific inquiry at the primary grades level. In addition, as a Hispanic woman I can serve as a role model for my students to venture in science and perhaps pursue scientific endeavors as adults. As a curriculum and staff developer for a science-based program I must encourage the use of best practices for the implementation of both, scientific method and effective pedagogy. My role requires that I model teaching strategies and help teachers of English Language Learners to enhance the learning experience of their students. However, for an individual who is a researcher in Education but not a science major a seminar such as "Physics in Everyday Life" will enhance the possibility of developing a sound curriculum unit in physics.
I intend to write a curriculum unit that explores natural and artificial light in the context of the school and everyday life elsewhere. To do so I want to look at the possibilities of finding light in nature and would like to explore how does it affect my students' lives. In addition, I would like to understand the physics explanation for the phenomenon of light. Let me elaborate on this concept. I am aware that light is a phenomenon in nature and that it involves an interaction between what I am capable to see and what is present in nature or generated artificially. But am I capable to explain how this interaction occurs? This is precisely what I want to understand so I can teach my students. Furthermore, for scientific inquiry to occur students must be able to explore the phenomenon of study therefore is imperative that I feel comfortable so I can encourage exploration. Finally, as an introduction to physics this unit will have a focus on light but I will utilize poetry to introduce concepts that otherwise might be too obscure for a young mind.
The first grade curriculum covers a unit on weather that can be expanded by the study of light. Exploring light as a physics phenomenon could be a challenge for first graders yet this is not impossible. A soviet psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, has spoken of the possibility of learning from more capable peers or adults by providing scaffolds that will enhance the learning by assisting the understanding (Tharp & Gallimore, 1987). It is in this fashion that I propose that small children may learn new and difficult concepts.
Another pedagogical tool that I propose to use is the scientific method. Providing students with a structure and a common language they can make their own. Thus, they will own the behaviors and the thinking process that will allow them to make science a reality in their life.
In addition, all of my students will be exposed to this unit within a second language context therefore I intend to use poetry to bridge the gap between what they already know and the new concepts. Furthermore, poetry can serve as a scaffold for content that can be concise, deceptively simple and often highly charged with emotion (Richard-Amato, 1996).