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Free Lesson Extensions Bring Grade 11 Physics to Life for Diverse Students

Kim Jones, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at McMaster University

It’s the question students have been asking for generations, in math classes, in science classes, and definitely in Physics classes… “Miss, when am I going to use this?” They rub their faces and pull on their hair in despair, unable to connect the laws of motion to their day-to-day dreams of the future.

Studies have shown that students are more motivated and interested when they are able to draw a straight line between their learning and its application to helping to solve real-world problems. This is especially true for girls.

When we look at the problem of girls being under-represented in engineering programs across the country, one of the pain points we can identify is that girls are more likely to opt out of grade 12 physics, a mandatory course for entry into post-secondary Engineering programs. Although there are systemic reasons for this, one of the easiest fixes is to make grade 11 physics curriculum more real-world solution focused.

We’ve created free lesson extensions that you can easily implement in your classrooms with those real-world examples for students: just email onwieteachertraining@gmail.com.

You’ll receive an automated email within minutes with links to Google slides, student worksheets and videos to inspire a diverse group of students.

In the Kinematics unit, students are challenged to route ambulances and design crosswalks for an aging population. In the Energy and Society unit students work together to design new ways that their school could lower its energy consumption and improve its efficiency.

If you have questions please reach out to us at waldron@mcmaster.ca.

We hope that you will join us in encouraging the next generation of women and non-binary folks to pursue careers in engineering.

Kim Jones is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at McMaster University. She is also the Chair of the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE), an organisation that coordinates the efforts of Ontario universities to recruit a more diverse engineering student population. In addition to facilitating outreach programs that reach thousands of girls annually, she does research on effective interventions to create inclusive environments for all engineers.
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