High school physics teachers help their students learn about the natural world and how it works. Math skills and physics knowledge combine to find patterns in the natural phenomena that allow scientists to predict the workings of nature and enable the study of stars. Majors in physics education must become skilled both in using knowledge of physics and in engaging students in learning physics. Students may major in physics education either as preparation for graduate study in science education or a secondary school teaching position.
Career specialties include teaching physics and performing physics education research. Physics and astronomy are concerned with the study of the most fundamental processes in nature.
To prepare for a career in physics, students should take as many units of mathematics, physics, and computer science as possible while still in high school. Note that it is possible to major in physics without a high school physics background, but it usually takes longer. At Missouri State, students may earn Bachelor of Science in Education degrees with an emphasis in physics. By completing course prerequisites, students will be close to a minor in mathematics and may want to choose that option. Elective courses are available that allow the student to further explore topics of interest in physics, astronomy, and other sciences, such as meteorology, geology, biology and chemistry.
The following is a selected list of courses offered by the Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Materials Science. Please consult the Missouri State catalog for specific degree requirements.
AST 115 Basic Astronomy
PHY 100 Survey of Physics with Laboratory
PHY 203 Foundations of Physics I
PHY 204 Foundations of Physics II
PHY 375 Twentieth Century Physics I
PHY 385 Experiments in Twentieth Century Physics
PHY 509 Topics in Physics
BIO 121 General Biology I
CHM 160 General Chemistry I
GRY 108 Ecology and Society
CSC 111 Introduction to Computing
SCI 414 Teaching of Secondary School Natural Science
SCI 505 Intellectual Foundations of Science and Technology
AST 311 Astronomical Techniques
AST 315 The Lives of Stars
PHY 252 Introduction to Circuit Analysis
PHY 324 Instrumental/Computer Interfacing
PHY 333 Intermediate Mechanics
PHY 343 Thermodynamics
PHY 352 Electronic Circuit Design
PHY 373 Radiation Physics
PHY 463 Physical Optics
PHY 475 Introduction to Solid State Physics
PHY 476 Twentieth Century Physics II
PHY 485 Advanced Experimental Methods
Faculty and Facilities
The Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Materials Science has 16 full-time faculty members. Five faculty members specialize in physics education and physics education research. Their research areas include conceptual understanding in physics, chaos theory for teachers, computer simulations, web-based instruction, history of physics, effective strategies to promote physics learning and development for research-based instructional materials.
Departmental facilities include us of the Missouri State server as well as a departmental computer lab. The Baker Observatory allows state-of-the-art astronomical observation and research. Well equipped labs offer storage oscilloscopes, lasers, and optical components.
In addition, the physics education faculty are dedicated to developing skilled and knowledgeable educators. All are interested in their students and in helping students develop skills in teaching, assessment, research, presentation, grant writing and professional conduct. Students are mentored by all of the faculty who provide help with detailed questions plus provide, by personal example, models of caring and professional educators.
Special Opportunities and Services
The department sponsors a chapter of the national Society of Physics Students (SPS) and a chapter of the national physics honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma. SPS members organize and participate in a number of departmental activities, including physics competition for high school students, tutoring assistance and seminars by guest speakers. Physics students often find part-time employment in the department and may participate in the Missouri State Cooperative Education program. The department sponsor's a Work Grant Program to foster student research.