Jess & Mildred Fisher College of 
			 Science & Mathematics

Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC)

Towson University Elementary PhysTEC Project (2004–2008).

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) project is a nationwide project that has the goal of improving science preparation for K-12 teachers. At each of the PhysTEC sites around the United States, science faculty, education faculty, and a full-time teacher-in-residence (TIR) work together to implement local teaching reforms that emphasize interactive engagement and a student-centered approach to learning science.

Denise Pfaff and Ann Craig, 2007-2008 Teachers in Residence, with Dr. Cody Sandifer
  Left to right: Denise Pfaff, Cody Sandifer and   Ann Craig

Towson University’s PhysTEC project was active for four years from 2004-2008. Project personnel consisted of Dr. Laura Lising and Dr. Cody Sandifer, two full-time science education faculty in the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences, and a full-time elementary TIR. The 2004-2005 TIR was Ms. Lisa Tirocchi, a Baltimore County teacher. The 2005-2006 TIR was Ms. Elizabeth Renwick, a Baltimore City teacher. The 2006-2007 TIRs were Ms. Ann Craig and Ms. Corby Pine, both Baltimore City teachers. The 2007-2008 TIRs were Ms. Ann Craig and Ms. Denise Pfaff, both Baltimore City teachers.

The main purpose of Towson's PhysTEC project was to improve our "Teaching Science in the Elementary School" practicum course (SCIE 376). "Improvement" in this project was represented by the degree to which the course became more uniform from section to section (in terms of the number of science lessons taught per intern, feedback on the interns' teaching, and a focus on inquiry) and the extent to which the undergraduate course interns

  1. developed a better understanding of the principles of inquiry-based teaching and
  2. increased the amount and quality of inquiry in their elementary science lessons at the practicum school sites.

Other purposes of the project were: to assess and improve the science mentoring of pre- and in-service elementary teachers, to build a stable community of elementary science internship schools, to provide better pedagogical support for the instructors of the other science courses in the elementary education program (Physical Science I, Earth-Space Science), and to document successes and challenges that will be shared with other PhysTEC sites and the educational community at large.

The success of PhysTEC at Towson University has led to the creation of a permanent “Elementary Science Internship Coordinator” staff position in the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics that will be filled by May 2009.

More information may be found on the

The Towson PhysTEC project is directed by:
Dr. Cody Sandifer
Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences
Towson University

The Jess and Mildred Fisher
College of Science and Mathematics
Smith Hall, Room 312 (campus map)
Phone: 410-704-2121
Fax: 410-704-2604



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