How these courses work, and what they cost

Our courses are specifically designed for inservice teachers in all grades, with our main target being grade 4-9 teachers who want to know more about physics or would like activities they can use to teach it. They are inquiry and standards-based and can be taken by individuals or a small group (2 or 3 works best). All work is done at your own site, on your own schedule. The courses don't assume any previous science or mathematics. They are "conceptual" courses, which means that you learn how the world works in English, instead of in Mathematics. The courses are asynchronous: you start anytime -- now, for example!

Hands-on activities

The courses were written with the middle school science teacher in mind; they cover the core content for those grades, and make use of activities that can be imported into the middle school classroom with minimal modification. For use in the elementary classroom, you would want to emphasize what happens, rather than why it happens; there are still some interesting and fun activities for you to use. Take a look at the sample pages, to see what we mean.

Each course takes between 30-45 hours to complete.

learning through hands-on activities

Here is how this works: we send you a "teachers kit" containing the various science tools you will need to do the activities; a CD; and a blank journal. The CD contains a bunch of web pages that you can access with Internet Explorer or however you get to the internet. You work from the CD, which is the textbook and virtual professor; the course is largely based on hands-on activities. At specific points (or whenever you feel like it) you communicate back and forth with us via email.

There are 8 to 10 sections depending on which course you choose. As you will see from the preview versions, each section on the CD contains exploration activities for you to do, then a few in-depth activities, followed by some science background information to help you understand the content behind what you have just done. The section concludes with a set of discussion questions from which your group (or you if solo) chooses some to discuss with us via email by sending us a couple of paragraphs for each question. We'll answer back (usually within 24 hours; a lot faster if we know when the message is coming) so we'll have a dialog. These discussion questions take the place of the face-to-face dialogs we would have with you in person. That's where we learn what your understanding and/or misconceptions are, and where we lead/push you to greater understanding.

Meanwhile, the CD also tells you at which points to record things in your journal. Your journals become your own reference tool to remember what you did in the course. We'll ask to see these at the end, but will return them right away to you. There are also pre- and post- course written assessments.

The activities in the courses are inquiry based -- you discover the laws of nature instead of being told them -- and are readily adapted for the middle school classroom. In fact, we also offer classroom sized kits for purchase after the workshop/course so you can immediately implement what you learn in your own teaching.

The costs are
1. Professional development courses on Electricity & Magnetism, Temperature & Heat, and Force, Motion, and Energy: $200 fee per course (regardless of whether it's only 1 person or a group of up to 4) includes 1 teacher kit of materials; all communications/training with us; and a manual, CD, and journal for each person in the group. Pick a course and fill out the questionnaire at for this option.

2. Graduate credit is also an option for any of our courses. Each course gives 1 credit hour. For this option you have to enroll at the University of Kentucky. Tuition is $401 per credit hour, and there is a one-time application fee of about $40. Materials fee (for the kit, manual, and CD) for a group taking it for grad credit is $75. To get this started, go to

Give me a call or email if there are questions I have failed to answer.

Joseph P. Straley
Department of Physics&Astronomy
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506-0055
(859) 257-3197

Online Courses for Teachers