Teachers can use Physics Central to find reading material that isn't available in physics textbooks. The scientific and technical text provided can be used to address the Common Core Reading Standards for Science Subjects. Actual excerpts from certain popular fiction and nonfiction books might get some kids fired up about the subject matter. Teachers can stay on top of current news in the discipline by checking out the Physics Buzz Blog. If you are using the site as a class, carefully monitor student activity. Physics Central is monitored, and some posts are taken down by the site administrator. However, kids can publish anonymous replies to posts, an option they may exploit by writing disrespectful entries.Continue reading Show less
Physics Central highlights the fun and interesting parts of physics. The site provides a broad variety of resources including pictures, physicist biographies, podcasts, and video clips. The Physics Buzz Blog describes the current developments in the world of Physics. A section called “Ask & Experiment” gives descriptions of basic Physics activities that can be done in the classroom or at home. Examples include: Skull Galaxies, where you can view an X-ray image and read a description of the Perseus Galaxy Cluster; Weightlessness in Movies, where you can listen to a podcast about how weightlessness is simulated; and Crash Reconstruction Physics, where you can read an article about the ways physics is used in legal proceedings.
Some resources on the site are not clearly linked to physics curriculum. For example, a podcast called "Gauss’s Missing Brain” tells the story of a famous mathematician's brain that was misplaced after he died. Though it's an interesting story about the physiology of genius, it's not that useful in a physics classroom. This problem appears in some of the Physics Quest activities, as well. For example, Go with the Flow examines the reasons Michael Phelps swims so fast, asking the question “Which shapes are more hydrodynamic?” While this topic may interest kids, it is not a crucial learning point for high school physics students. Many activities seem geared more toward middle school science students than high school students.
Overall, the Physics Central site is well organized. Users can click on a major topic in physics and see a broad variety of resources. The highlight of the site is the Writers Gallery, which provides excerpts from popular physics-related books. This can be helpful when looking for authentic, non-standard texts for student reading.
Key Standards Supported
By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Key Standards Supported
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Construct an explanation of the Big Bang theory based on astronomical evidence of light spectra, motion of distant galaxies, and composition of matter in the universe.
Communicate scientific ideas about the way stars, over their life cycle, produce elements.
Use mathematical or computational representations to predict the motion of orbiting objects in the solar system.
Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.
Develop and use a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system.
Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motions of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative position of particles (objects).
Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperature are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics).
Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object.
Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.
Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.
Plan an investigation to determine the relationships among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample.
Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.
Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Matter and Its Interactions
Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
Undertake a design project to construct, test, and modify a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy by chemical processes.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Apply scientific and engineering ideas to design, evaluate, and refine a device that minimizes the force on a macroscopic object during a collision.
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that an electric current can produce a magnetic field and that a changing magnetic field can produce an electric current.
Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
Ask questions about data to determine the factors that affect the strength of electric and magnetic forces.
Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects.
Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to provide evidence that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact.
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Use mathematical representations to support a claim regarding relationships among the frequency, wavelength, and speed of waves traveling in various media.
Evaluate the validity and reliability of claims in published materials of the effects that different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation have when absorbed by matter.
Communicate technical information about how some technological devices use the principles of wave behavior and wave interactions with matter to transmit and capture information and energy.
Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave.
Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.