AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers

Computational Modeling in Physics First with Bootstrap

Summer 2018 Workshop: July 9-20, Chicago, IL (Applications open January 2018 for this fully-funded, stipended workshop).

Project Overview

Computational thinking is widely recognized as an essential skill for the future workforce and success in STEM. This grant engages teachers in professional development to plan and implement classroom instruction in algebra-based Physics First courses that integrates computational modeling (one aspect of computational thinking) through two existing, widely used approaches - Modeling Instruction for physics and Bootstrap for computational modeling. This program is especially focused on combating many equity concerns associated with student access to physics sand computer science. Working with Physics First teachers will allow this project to impact student populations which will be demographically more diverse than students historically enrolled in standalone computer science courses or upper-grade physics courses. Read more about "Why Computational Modeling in Physics."

This grant supports collaborative efforts between the AAPT, American Modeling Teachers Association, Bootstrap, and STEMteachersNYC.

In August 2016, this project brought together 12 New York area middle school and high school Modeling physics teachers to learn programming using the Pyret language from the team that developed the nationally-recognized Bootstrap project to teach algebra to students through computer science. During the workshop, participants developed curricular resources - compatible with Modeling Physics First courses - that they implement throughout the remainder of the school year. In August 2017, a total of 30 teachers came together to revise, expand, and develop additional curricular resources and instructional approaches.
Learn more about the status of this project at the blog postings below:

To learn more about this initiative, see the graphic below, and please contact AAPT K-12 Program Manager Rebecca Vieyra at rvieyra@aapt.org.


Computational Modleing Poster Part 1

Computational Modleing Poster Part 2

Computational modeling katie

Get Involved
  • Apply: Apply to attend a 2-week fully-funded (travel, meals, hotel), stipended workshop in Chicago, IL, to take place July 9-20. Applications will formally open in January 2018, but you may express your interest in advance by completing THIS FORM, and we will reach out to you when applications open.
  • See Sample Resources: Check out selected resources that reflect the integrated nature of Modeling Instruction physics and Bootstrap computational modeling. Please note that these are DRAFT student resources, and the individual documents below do not necessarily reflect a full learning cycle or all of the information that will be included in associated teacher guides. Resources will be added as materials are deemed appropriate for release.
    • Unit 1: Qualitative Energy Model
    • Unit 2: Constant Velocity Model
      • Buggy Lab: Students collect data for a traditional Modeling "Tumble Buggy" lab, collecting data on the tick of a metronome.
      • Simulating Motion Worksheet: Students use data collected in the lab and the design recipe to model the constant velocity motion of the buggy in a computational environment.
    • Unit 3: Uniform Acceleration Model
    • Unit 4: Balanced Force Model
      • Force Diagrams Practice: Students prepare to create computational models involving force by practicing identifying force systems and vector diagrams.
      • Air Hockey Table Simulation: Students use a simulation of an air hockey table (with and without friction) to get a puck into the goal by using conditional statements.
      • Conditionals: Students practice writing conditional statements using Boolean expressions.
      • Hockey Table Analysis: Students use the hockey table simulation to draw system schemas and force diagrams for pucks in different types of motion.
      • Gravity on Different Planets: Students write a function to determine the gravitational field strength for various planets.
    • Unit 5: Impulse-Momentum Model
    • Unit 6: Unbalanced Force Model
    • Unit 7: Fields Model (Grav./Elec.)
    • Unit 8: Quantitative Energy Model
    • Unit 9: Mechanical Waves Model
    • Full Curricular Resources (Accessible only to teacher developers and beta testers. Contact rvieyra@aapt.org for additional information.)

Press Release (15 September 2016)


100Kin10 Award

Press Release (13 April 2016)


For more details and information about K12 Programs, please contact Rebecca Vieyra, K12 Program Manager, at rvieyra@aapt.org