About the Physics Classroom
The Physics Classroom is an online, free to use physics website developed primarily for beginning physics students and their teachers. The website features a variety of sections intended to support both teachers and students in the tasks of learning and teaching physics.
The Physics Classroom Tutorial is among the most popular sections of the website. The Tutorial covers basic physics topics using informative graphics and an easy-to-understand language. Each unit is divided into lessons and sub-lessons. A lesson resembles the type and extent of coverage typically given to that topic in class. The sub-lessons are accompanied by Check Your Understanding sections, providing an opportunity to assess one's understanding of the lesson material. The Tutorial, when combined with other sections at this site, provides a student of physics a great opportunity to learn and to test their physics understanding.
Other popular sections of the website that promote and deepen a student's learning include the Minds On Physics Internet Modules (commonly referred to as MOP), The Calculator Pad, and The Review Session. The MOP modules provide a student with an intense, interactive exercise in answering questions that target common conceptual misunderstandings. Instant feedback to student answers is provided. When a pattern of missing is observed, students are directed to question-specific help that will assist in correcting misunderstandings. The Calculator Pad provides students an exercise in solving physics word problems. Each problem is accompanied by an answer and an audio file that provides detailed direction on how to solve the problem. This section is ideally suited to serve those students who need guided practice with solving physics problems. The Review Session serves as a test review tool for students who are preparing for an upcoming physics test. The questions are provided on one page and the answers, explanations and solutions are provided on a different page. A link (or several links) accompanies each question; the links direct students to a page at the Tutorial that addresses the topic.
Finally, The Physics Classroom provides help for teachers. It is packed with classroom-ready and teacher-friendly resources. Many cross-over teachers, new teachers, and teachers returning to the profession after a lengthy detour in life, have found the Tutorial to be an invaluable resource in catching up on their physics and lesson preparation. Others have found that the Minds On Physics Internet Modules to be a rich source of homework assignments and use it with their classes both in and out of the classroom. The MOP modules provide a means for teachers to make online assignments; by purchasing an annual teacher account, teachers can verify that their students have completed the assignments. The Curriculum Corner was written specifically with teachers in mind. This section of the website consists of numerous classroom-ready worksheets that teachers can print and use with their classes. And now for a small fee, teachers can purchase The Solutions Guide - a CD packed with answers, solutions and explanations for each of the questions. The Laboratory provides teachers with a source of more than 150 lab ideas that are centered around a testable question. And finally, The Photo Gallery is an ongoing effort to mine physics gems from one of the web's most prolific source of photographs - Flickr. The Photo Gallery links teachers to photos on Flickr that portray physics principles presented in the Tutorial.
About the Author
The Physics Classroom was written and developed by Tom Henderson. Tom has been teaching physics and chemistry at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Illinois since 1989. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he received degrees in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. Tom has been working tirelessly on the development of the website since 1996. When not teaching and not working on The Physics Classroom, Tom enjoys time with his family, gardening, home projects, reading, and outdoor activities.
Current and Future Plans
There's always a project or two or three on the burner at The Physics Classroom. Most recently, we have completed a massive website design and overhaul and have moved to a new server. We occassionally hire teachers to help with summer development and to add new sections to the website. There are several projects that are either planned, in progress, or stalled. These projects include:
- The transformation of the Minds On Physics Internet Modules into an app for the iPad. It is hoped that the project is completed by the Fall of 2015. Shortly after completion, an Android and Chromebook version will be created.
- The continued development of our Physics Interactives section that includes HTML5 simulations for tablets and Chromebooks.
- The completon of a Teacher Toolkit section of the website. Each toolkit in the section will focus on a narrow topic of physics and provide a rich collection of references to resources available both on the site and offsite. The toolkits will facilitate the task of creating lessons that are standards-based. As of this writing (Spring, 2015), the Mechanics section is mostly completed. Completion date for all Toolkits will likely be in the Spring of 2016.
- The production of a CD to accompany the Science Reasoning Center. The CD will include answers and explanations to all exercises in the Science Reasoning Center. It will also include files in a Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel format for teachers to modify. The CD should be completed by the Fall or Winter of the 2015-16 school year.
- The creation of iBooks for the iPad. In response to numerous requests by teachers, a collection of iBooks are being created that combine the animations, tutorial texts, and Flickr photos to produce interactive touch books. Six books are currently available on Mechanics topics. While the project has been put on a temporary hold, plans are to take it up again in the Fall or Winter of 2016.
- The emergence of a Skill Builders section that includes a collection of interactive classroom exercises that provide practice, feedback, and help in order to equip students with discrete topic-specific skills needed to be successful in physics. These have already begun to appear in our Physics Interactives section. They will grow in number and ultimately become a separation section.
- The production of a Project Corner that includes a variety of open-ended engineering and science projects on various topics of physics. These could begin appearing on our website as early as the Fall of 2015. Activities in the Project Corner will be tied closely to the Next Generation Science Standards related to engineering and science processes.
- The creaton of a Data Analysis Center that includes a variety of student exercises that encourage the analysis and interpretation of physics data. These could begin appearing on our website as early as the Summer of 2016.
Copyright and Usage Policy
The pages of The Physics Classroom are made available as a service to physics students, physics teachers, and the general public. Their use is encouraged and is free of charge. Teachers who wish to use the pages either in a classroom demonstration format or as part of an interactive activity/lesson are granted permission (and encouraged) to do so.
The Physics Classroom is copyright protected and the author restricts their use to online usage through a live internet connection. Unless noted otherwise in the Usage Rights of a particular section, any downloading of files to other storage devices (hard drives, web servers, school servers, CDs, etc.) is prohibited. The use of images, text and animations in other projects (including non-profit endeavors) is also prohibited. For a variety of reasons, requests for permission to use such images on other web pages and CD projects is always denied. Licensing of the content of The Physics Classroom for such projects may be considered in the near future.
Credits and Thanks
The Physics Classroom began as a volunteer project during the 1996-97 school year. The first five Tutorial units were completed during that time; no special funding or release time was provided for that work. During the summer of 1998, a grant was received from The First in the World Consortium of Schools in order to complete some additional lessons on the topics of waves, sound, light, reflection and refraction. Thanks to the generosity and support of the Consortium, an additional five units were added to The Physics Classroom during the summer of 1998.
The Minds On Physics Internet Modules was originally supported by an NSTA/Toyota Tapestry grant in 1999. The grant provided the funds and the motivational fuel to turn the vision of an interactive sense-making activity into a reality.
Many of the graphics used in some of the animations of the Multimedia Physics Studios were originally part of the "Hewitt DrewIt" clip art collection available through LaserPoint Educational Software. The graphics were subsequently imported into a graphics program, edited, colorized, resized, and used to compile the GIF animations. They are used with the permission of the original artist - Paul Hewitt.
The banner photo for our site depicting the swing ride is licensed from photographer Todd Klassy (www.toddklassy.com). We extend a warm thanks to Todd for cooperating with us in order to showcase his "Swings on High" photo on our website.
From 2009 to 2012, The Physics Classroom Project has been supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF-DUE 0840768). The NSF grant has fueled many of the recent changes, improvements and additions that have been made to the site.
In recent years, support and hosting has been provided by The Compadre Digitial Library. has provided gracious support and hosting. Compadre is a network of free online resource collections supporting faculty, students and teachers in Physics and Astronomy Education.
Contact, Questions and Feedback
Your feedback concerning the website is extremely valued. An effort is made to keep up with all user feedback via electronic mail. Suggestions and constructive criticism is pondered and evaluated and often leads to the revision of pages. Corrections that need to be made are always eventually made.
On occasion, I receive email from teachers wanting to know more about this resource and its use in the physics classroom. I am always interested in sharing my experiences, though on occasion am limited in regards to time. I do respond to such requests and I am also able to direct such teachers to the Glenbrook South physics site to witness first hand how the internet is being effectively used in the physics classroom.
Email: [email protected]
Web Site Issues
Questions regarding technical issues with the web site should be sent to: [email protected]