Active versus Modeling

First off, the title is more confrontational then it needs to be. Both curricula (Modeling Physics and Active Physics) are guided inquiry ways to teach high school physics. While there are some differences in approach they really have a very similar underlying philosophy.

The problem is that “high school physics” is a rather vague phrase; it covers approaches from no math to rigorous calculus and academic levels from the not as academic ninth graders to the most academic college prep seniors. Active Physics is aimed at the lower math, younger, and all inclusive end of the spectrum. Modeling is aimed as the upper end of high school ages with a more academic focus. Which explains why I am a little hesitant about my school’s* attempt to teach a college prep physics class to juniors and seniors using a combination of Active Physics and Conceptual Physics (I’m leaving out the fact that the other physics teacher wants to try out an independent study approach** and any possible problems caused by the mixing of two not necessarily compatible curricula).

* Really one of my two schools. The non-magnet physics class.

** More on this approach later. Conceptually its a good idea if the practical aspects work.


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