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Physics BA - Teaching of Science Physics Concentration/Physics Adolescent Education EdM

(HEGIS: 19.02 PHYSICS-GEN-NO BIOPHYSCS, CIP: 40.0801 Physics, General)

Department of Physics

239 Fronczak Hall
North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260-1500

Dr. John Cerne
Director of Undergraduate Studies

Office of Educator Preparation

375 Baldy Hall
North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260-4610

Louise Lalli
Academic Advisor

Associated Programs

Why study Physics BA - Teaching of Science Physics Concentration/Physics Adolescent Education EdM at UB?

The Physics Education program is an accelerated, combined degree program that leads to a Physics BA and Physics education EdM in five years.

During the first three years of the program, students will develop a deep understanding of the workings of the universe around us. From the smallest sub-atomic particles to the vastness of cosmic expansion, students will study how physics profoundly impacts our understanding of nature and our ability to harness its secrets for the progress of human kind. Also during the first three years, students will take education courses that will include experiential components to introduce the nuances of the teaching profession.

The graduate portion of the program will continue to build understanding of physics as well as providing the skills to become an effective teacher. The final year in the program includes a one-year residency that allows students to co-teach alongside an expert physics teacher. The opportunity to experience the inner workings of the classroom from fall setup to end-of-year grading prepares students to enter the teaching profession with expertise and confidence.

At the end of this program, successful students will receive recommendation for New York State Initial and Professional Teacher Certification.

Learning Outcomes

Students in the combined program will complete the learning outcomes of the Physics BA Teaching of Science Physics Concentration:

  • The basic laws of physics, their corollaries, and comprehension of how they can be applied to explain specific natural phenomena.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills in physics, related to hypothesis building, application of the scientific method, and mathematical methods to analyze physics theories and experiments, and devise solution strategies.
  • Laboratory skills and exposure to a variety of experiments illustrating important phenomena, measuring techniques, and qualitative analysis of data and uncertainty at appropriate levels.
  • Contemporary areas of physics inquiry.
  • Written and oral communication skills for presentation of scientific results.

In addition, graduates of the Physics Education EdM program will:

  • Demonstrate subject specific content expertise that supports effective teaching in the field.
  • Create inclusive learning environments to meet individual differences in a caring, culturally responsive, and professional manner.
  • Construct relevant and rigorous curricula that include critical assessment of student learning outcomes.
  • Design, develop, and evaluate learning experiences that maximize the use of digital and interactive technologies.
  • Promote the application of research and evidence-based practices in diverse settings throughout their teaching careers.
  • Remain intellectually curious, continually updating their knowledge and skills to ensure ongoing excellence in teaching.

The Learning Environment

Introductory courses consist of large lectures given by a faculty member and smaller recitation sections that are taught by graduate teaching assistants. The lectures introduce the material and the recitations focus on applications and problem-solving. The lectures use many demonstrations to show physics principles in live action. Almost all the introductory lectures use personal response systems, where students use clickers to respond to the instructors’ questions. The homework assignments for the introductory courses are typically submitted online. We also offer purely remote introductory courses during winter session.

The introductory lab courses explore basic topics such as forces, kinematics, friction, electrostatics and electric circuits. These experiments are designed to illustrate and expand upon topics taught in the introductory lecture courses.

Our upper division courses are smaller, with around 25-35 students. We offer two upper division lab courses. In the Modern Physics Laboratory (PHY 307), students work on experiments that established modern physics in the early 20th century. In the Advanced Physics Laboratory (PHY 407 and PHY 408), students choose to work on three experiments that were developed by our faculty and use research-grade equipment.

Many of our majors, and even non-majors, complete independent study projects (PHY 498 and PHY 499) with our faculty. Our majors are encouraged to write a senior thesis (PHY 497), which allows them to graduate with honors.

Most undergraduate education classes in the Department of Learning and Instruction enroll between 18-24 students while graduate courses enroll between 10–18 students. Education courses are offered on campus as well as remotely. These small class sizes create an intimate learning environment where students have more opportunity to ask questions, contribute to discussions and get to know professors and peers. In the final year of the program, your placements as “teachers in residence” will provide you comprehensive learning opportunities in a real secondary school classroom setting.

About Our Facilities

Any visitor to Fronzak Hall, where the Physics Department is located, will quickly see that our department is passionate about teaching. Our building contains dozens of exhibits ranging from a Foucault pendulum to a camera obscura, to teach physics. Most of the exhibits are interactive and were designed and built locally. The department uses the exhibits for tours and outreach to our community.

The department also has laboratory space dedicated to teaching introductory and upper-level physics. The introductory laboratory space consists of 5 classrooms, while the upper-level labs are housed in two rooms.

Students doing independent research projects may be found in any one of our many research labs working with faculty and graduate students on cutting-edge topics.
All faculty and administrative offices, advisement, and most classrooms in the Department of Learning and Instruction are located in Baldy Hall. A small selection of classes are scheduled in other locations on UB North Campus. Clinical experiences are embedded throughout the program in middle and high schools in the WNY region.

About Our Faculty

The Physics Department consists of 25 full-time faculty members and about 45 graduate teaching assistants. The faculty is comprised of approximately an equal number of theorists and experimentalists. Faculty members are involved in all most areas of physics including condensed matter physics, biophysics, high energy physics, and astrophysics/cosmology. Courses are primarily taught by full-time UB faculty members.

Six faculty members have received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, nine are Fellows of the American Physical Society, eight have won National Science Foundation Career Awards, and five are SUNY Distinguished Professors.

Learning and Instruction distinguished faculty researchers are thought leaders and innovators. They share a commitment to mentor students to become leaders in the profession, influencing schools and communities. Our faculty pride themselves in applying knowledge that is based in theory and informed by research done in environments that promote examination of issues across boundaries. The experiences of our faculty help to instill an intellectual curiosity and encourage critical inquiry in students.

Faculty List Directory

Please visit the Physics department faculty website and Learning and Instruction faculty website for additional information about our faculty.

Career Outlook

Employment opportunities exist as New York State and other states nationwide are facing current and future teacher shortages. Program graduates will be equipped to find professional employment in public, private, and charter schools as teachers in grades 5-12. Graduates also may find career opportunities as educators, consultants, and researchers in public and private industry, as well as government agencies.

Academic Advising

Students interested in a physics degree program should contact the Physics Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. John Cerne. Dr. Cerne will advise you on course selection. He can also accept you into the program once you have completed your prerequisite courses and help with most HUB changes that you request.

Academic progress in this program is evaluated at the end of each semester.

Academic Advising Contact Information

John Cerne
Director of Undergraduate Studies

To schedule education coursework advisement, contact:
Louise Lalli
306 Baldy Hall
Academic Advisor, Office of Educator Preparation

Scholarships and Financial Support

Sekula Scholarship

Each year the department awards up to seven scholarships to undergraduate physics majors. This award is based on merit, as well as financial need.

National Scholarships

The Department of Physics encourages and supports student applications for prestigious national scholarships and fellowships, such as offered by the Goldwater, Fulbright and National Science Foundation programs. View additional information on National scholarships.

Associated Programs

Published: Nov 28, 2022 13:04:16