Curricular Resources

Award-Winning University Physics Curriculum to Meet New AP Physics Demands

New learning goals for the AP Physics Exams will be fully implemented by 2020, putting a stronger emphasis on conceptual understanding and scientific reasoning practices. IPaSS fills a critical need at a critical time, as physics teachers seek more instructional resources and support to adapt to the new instructional demands put upon them by this curricular change. These demands include greater focus on conceptual learning and inquiry-based lab practices; the very things the Physics Education Research (PER) group at U of I has been focused on during the redesign of its own undergraduate courses.

The IPaSS curricular materials available to our high school partners include adapted versions of key components of the U of I undergraduate physics curriculum:

  • a web-based "flipped" platform, smartPhysics, that contains online pre-lectures, pre-labs and homework
  • group problem-solving activities
  • design-based lab activities targeting scientific skill development, using iOLabs
  • assessments



The iOLab

These lab activities utilize the iOLab wireless lab system, invented by U of I Physics Professors Mats Selen and Tim Stelzer. The iOLab is a compact device that contains all sensors necessary for hundreds of physics labs, and a wireless interface that supports quick data collection and analysis.

Due to its ease of use and diverse functionality, the iOLab promotes student freedom to design their own experiments to engage with more open lab-prompts. The IPaSS partnership gives teachers supported access to these devices at no cost to the school for the duration of teachers’ engagement with the program.

Award-Winning Curriculum

The original curriculum described here, from which all IPaSS course materials are adapted, won the APS 2012 Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education. Although the IPaSS curriculum in its original format is intended for advanced high school physics students, it can easily be adapted for students who have little to no prior exposure to physics, or otherwise require more support.