Can’t stop talking about Physics?

Consider teaching Physics!




Learning Assistant Program

The Learning Assistant (LA) program is an excellent opportunity for undergraduate students interested in physics teaching careers to explore the rewards and challenges of teaching and learning physics. Learning assistants in our departments’ courses work alongside graduate Teaching Fellows (TF’s) to help students learn physics.  LA’s function as group work facilitators for problem sets in discussion sections.  These students meet weekly to plan and prepare for the assignment with a department faculty member and graduate student Teaching Fellows.  Learning Assistants also enroll in a STEM Pedagogy course, Introduction to STEM Education Theory and Practice; SED SC 521; Credits: 2.. SC521 complements the role in discussion section and allows the LA’s to be more fully prepared for the assignment.  This course provides an introduction to modern learning theory emphasizing inquiry learning in the classroom for science, engineering and mathematics.  For more information on this opportunity, please speak directly with the Teacher in Residence and/or Professor Manher Jariwala.  The link will more fully describe the program:

Learning Assistant Eric Boxer during our Studio Physics class.

Pre-Practicum for STEM Majors

For students interested in exploring a career in teaching, this course is a great introduction to the profession. Students are placed with a highly skilled cooperating teacher and prepare and deliver lesson plans in High Needs Inner City Secondary School classrooms. Working closely with Clinical Professor Peter Garik and Physics Department Teacher in Residence, the students learn the landscape of public education in the Boston Public Schools and serve the community by providing an extra resource to our area youth. The Teacher in Residence recruits and helps train students enrolled in this School of Education Curriculum and Training course. Please contact us and check out the link to learn more about this opportunity.

Fall 2011 Learning Assistant Max Porter working in a discussion.


Degree Program – Combining Physics with Education

Perhaps you were inspired to become a physics major by one of your teachers in high school. You can go on to inspire new generations of students to study science or engineering at the university level by becoming an inspiring teacher yourself. There has always been a need for qualified physics teachers in this country. Recently, that need has increased significantly because many school districts (including the Boston Public Schools) have adopted a Physics First curriculum, with students taking a conceptual physics course in the 9th grade.

To be able to teach effectively, a teacher needs a solid background in their subject area. As a physics major, you will learn many different things about how the world works. Deciding to share your knowledge with others by becoming a physics teacher could be the best decision you ever make.

If you’re interested in becoming a physics teacher and would like more information, contact Andrew Duffy in the Physics Department ( or Peter Garik in the School of Education (

Sample Schedule: Physics and Education dual degree

Routes to becoming a physics teacher

  • Route 1: A four-year bachelor’s degree in physics, followed by a one-year Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program through the School of Education.
  • Route 2: The Option I with Education track combines a degree in Physics with several education courses. Further coursework is required at the end of the four-year program to become a licensed teacher, but this route gives interested students a taste of what it means to be a teacher so they can determine whether it is right for them.
  • Route 3: Double major in Physics and Education through the Boston University Collaborative Degree Program (BUCOP). A possible four-year program for this route is shown in the table below, leading to a dual degree in Physics and Education, and licensure to teach Physics (after passing state tests).

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4


MA 123
PY 251 (or 211) WR 100 Language

MA 225 PY351 (or 313) ED 100 (6 cr) ED 101 (0 cr) Language

PY 405
PY 408
ED 410 (2 cr) ED 412 (2 cr) Math

SC 571
SE 251 (2 cr) DS 502 (2 cr) Humanities Elective



MA 124
PY 252 (or 212) WR 150 Language

PY 355
Physics elective Social Science Language

PY 451
PY 410 Humanities Social Science

SC 510 (8 cr) SC 572
CT 575

In-Service Teachers Programs:

Project ITOP

Project ITOP Improving the Teaching of Physics, gives in-service teachers the opportunity to become more proficient in physics concepts and teaching strategies. Frequently, science teachers are required to teach out of their content area. The content covered in the Project ITOP courses prepares teachers for the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL) in Physics.  The graduate courses offered by Improving the Teaching of Physics(ITOP) is a collaborative effort by the School of Education and the Department of Physics of Boston University, and the Center of Science and Mathematics in Context at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.  Our approach to teaching physics is based on the physics education research literature. The history and philosophy of physics is included to enrich the understanding of the physics concepts. Our goal is for participants to develop a conceptual understanding of physics, to implement science education research findings in their lessons, and to significantly improve problem-solving and laboratory skills for themselves and subsequently for their students.

ITOP classes are small and provide individual attention and hands-on, inquiry-based learning in a relaxed, friendly environment. We are aware of teachers’ heavy work schedules. We try to adjust the ITOP course schedules and requirements to accommodate the other professional demands on participants’ time.  For more information, click on the link:

Teacher Advisory Group

With the PhysTEC project, we have many undergraduates needing clear direction about the current world of teaching.  There is a need for active, exemplary teachers to guide our new recruits.  At Boston University, this guidance comes from our Teacher Advisory Group (TAG), a network of nearly two dozen area teachers that gather periodically throughout the year to attend forums on campus.

This year we chose the topics of

  • Classroom demonstrations in Electricity
  • the new Standards and Frameworks and how it will impact our Inquiry Labs
  • Web-based resources to share and support classroom work

The teachers serve as our pre-practicum and practicum Cooperating Teachers and support our recruitment pedagogy courses by participating in panel discussions.

The TAG provides regular communication with a cadre of high school faculty in several surrounding school districts, it enlightens the Physics faculty about life in high schools, and it expands the network of concerned physics educators. A critical component of the TAG program is that it serves as a starting point for placing students in productive and engaging K-12 environments. Students get a positive and safe exposure to real pre-college classrooms, while teachers benefit from the added human resources and content expertise of the college students. These TAG teachers have formed the nucleus of school-based contacts.  In the first semester of the university-high school partnerships with the TAG, we have established placements for students in several Boston Public high schools.