The Book of Phyz

© Dean Baird. All Rights Reserved

The Book of Phyz is the curriculum I developed for my physics and AP Physics courses at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, California.

There are four general general categories of documents: guides, jobs, labs, and demos.

1. Guides. These are typically one- or two-page documents written to convey content. The text of the textbook. Nearly all are illustrated.

X: Examples. Condensed, bare-bones definitions of quantities, explanations of equations, and worked out example problems. Very valuable to students slogging through the homework set.

R: References. Usually tables of data that I wouldn't ask student to memorize (e.g. melting and boiling points, thermal conductivities of various materials, etc.)

2. Jobs. These are single-concept, one- or two-page worksheets that can be completed by students in class or as homework. The bulk of homework I assign come from the Question & Problem Sets I developed for each unit. I haven't posted those due to copyright considerations.

SB: Springboards. These are classroom discussion guides and are not to be given as homework. Consider them outlines for Socratic dialogue between the instructor and the class. I much prefer this form of content delivery over lecture.

LSB: Lab Springboards. These are classroom discussion lab guidelines. Students work in groups with apparatus for a few minutes, then a classroom discussion ensues, then back to apparatus, then back to discussion. Highly recommended.

3. Labs. These are documents of various lengths carrying instructions and questions to guide students through laboratory investigations. I don't typically have students write up purpose, procedure, etc. in a formal manner. These labs are pretty-well self contained, some with pre-lab questions, more with post-lab questions.

XP: Experiment. OK, this is the time and place for a full-blown write-up. Some instruction is given, but students complete reports (typically one report per lab group).

4. Demos. I hate to do a groovy demonstration without getting students primed for it with some good though-providing, debate-inducing questions first. We usually argue in class and take a vote before carrying out the demonstration. I know, I know: you do that, too. Post-demo questions and "what-ifs" extend the demo so you get the most mileage out of it.

The project began in 1986 (due to an inherent lack of trust I have in textbooks) and has continued without interruption to this day. In general, the Guides were developed first, followed by the Jobs. Next came the Labs and Demos. Many Jobs were incorporated into the Question & Problem Sets that were developed next. Then came the Examples. The Springboards and Lab Springboards are the most recent additions.

Walt Scheider of Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Paul Hewitt and Paul Robinson of Conceptual Physics fame.
Arnold Arons, University of Washington physics professor and author of "Teaching Introductory Physics."
Lillian McDermott, Dewey Dykstra, Jim Minstrell, Fred Goldberg; researchers and practitioners of physics teaching and learning.
Contributors to the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) The Physics Teacher, AAPT conferences--both national and Northern California and Nevada Section.

The Book of Phyz is © Dean Baird. All rights reserved.