Journal of Curriculum and Instruction, Vol 5, No 1 (2011)

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Teaching Newton’s Laws to Urban Middle School Students in a College-Based Science Enrichment Program

Angela M Kelly, Ross Kennedy-Shaffer


Participation in secondary physics has been shown to be limited for underrepresented students in urban school districts. This study explores an alternative means for providing physics access for city youth through the use of a university-based Saturday enrichment program for eighth grade Latino students. During a three-week unit on Newton’s laws, students engaged in inquiry-based lessons that featured hands-on tasks, probeware with handheld sensing devices, computer simulations, iPod Touch applications, and multiple representations of mechanics concepts. Students were tested pre- and post- with a modified Force Concept Inventory. Results indicated significant gains in student understanding of Newton’s laws. Implications for physics teaching and learning in urban middle schools and informal science settings are discussed.

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