Edinburg school teachers get back to the basics of physics at UTPA
Posted: 06/01/2000
Share |

EDINBURG - Science teacher Antonio Ballesteros of Edinburg North High School will get getting a dose of his own medicine this summer.

Trading in his chalkboard and rulers for pens and backpacks, Ballesteros along with 15 other Edinburg science teachers will participate in the Physics for Teachers Program at The University of Texas-Pan American beginning June 19.

Last year more than 15 McAllen ISD teachers particpated in the UTPA Physics for Teachers program, sharpening their physics skills and developing differents of teaching the subject.

"This program is going to give us the opportunity to sharpen our physics skills and learn different methods of teaching physics to our students," Ballesteros said. "It's going to be very interesting being a student again."

According to Dr. Muhammad Bhatti, director of the Physics for Teachers Program at UTPA, the program is specifically designed to enhance the skills of physical science teachers by reviewing basic principals by going back to the basics.

"The need for this program in the Rio Grande Valley is out there," Bhatti said. "Studies have shown that students entering colleges and universities are poorly trained in the area of science."

"Test scores show that teachers who have taken the course have an increase in physics knowledge of up to 90 percent. And the number of incoming freshman showing an interest in physics has grown approximately 20 percent since the program began four years ago."

Ann Gales, an eighth-grade teacher at Lamar Middle School in McAllen, endorses the UTPA program.

"The program really works," Gales said. "I took the program last summer, and there was so much that I learned."

Although Gales has been a teacher for more than 20 years, she said there was still much to learn about physics.

"There have been so many advances since the last time I took a physics class," Gales said. "There is so much new technology out there that this class showed me how much I needed to learn."

There are multiple benefits to the program, Bhatti said.

"These teachers will be exposed to the latest physics technology like motion sensors and graphing calculators," Bhatti said. "Once these teachers are trained, they will be able to pass on what they have learned to their students."

Participants will spend approximately 45 hours of class time during the summer, 25 hours during the fall semester and an additional 30 hours during the spring to complete the course.

The program is funded through a $110,000 Eisenhower Grant awarded to UTPA.

For more information on the Physics for Teachers Program, contact Bhatti at 956/381-9750.