68006 - Elements of Physics and Physics Teaching

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Clean water and sanitation Climate Action

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The student is expected to reach the following learning objectives:

- disciplinary knowledge on selected topics within a more general view of the cultural role of Physics and its history;

- ability to re-construct basic disciplinary concepts taking into account the various interconnected aspects of scientific knowledge: the experience based, the linguistic and the mathematical ones;

- ability to design educational projects devoted to infant and primary school levels according to the approach to teaching/learning science based on the guided transition from spontaneous and individual ideas to shared concepts that aim at the accepted disciplinary knowledge.

Course contents

The course is organized into two modules and runs during the second semester, from the middle of February to the end of May.

The first module that will be implemented during the course (Module 2, 20h) deals with Optics, in particular with geometrical optics.

The second one (Module 1, 28h) deals with calorimetry and radiation-matter interaction aiming at interpreting the greenhouse effect.

Within these topics, the following knowledge and competences are introduced and developed:

- basic Physics concepts and peculiarities of Physics knowledge;

- phenomenological approach and model building in Physics;

- the role of children's spontaneous ideas in the construction of scientific knowledge

- the role of scientific education in the knowledge society.

The course also includes 1 CFU of laboratory activity.

Science labs: a transversal laboratory and disciplinary laboratories (only for students who started their graduate course in/after A.Y. 2016-2017)

Starting from A. Y. 2018-2019, science practices have been revisited and improved, resulting not only in the reorganization of the disciplinary laboratories but also in the realization of transversal laboratories spanning over Physics,Chemistry, Ecology and Biology. Taking into account that a 360° education is requested for primary school teachers, these laboratories were planned to be both interdisciplinary, thus involving the four scientific disciplines, and multidisciplinary: maximum effort will be put into highlighting links with non-scientific knowledge, in order to clarify that there is no dichotomy between sciences and humanities.

The main goals of this rearrangement of the scientific education of teachers are to:

  • stimulate curiositytowards scientific themes;
  • highlight the ethic and social impactof scienceand technology;
  • communicate the importance of delivering a scientific educationstarting from the lowest school levels;
  • provide conceptual and practical toolsmandatory to plan and carry out science-based activities with pupils.

Science labs focused on single disciplines are activated as well, after being improved following aforementioned goals and rationales.

The transversal laboratory deals with a topic underpinning all the scientific disciplines involved in the master degree with the aim of showing that the same issue can be investigated under different frameworks, each related to a different discipline, and how we can obtain “a big picture” of a given issue by integrating all the different aspects. Disciplinary laboratories, dealing with Physics, Chemistry/Ecology, and Biology, are strictly interconnected with frontal lessons: these classes have the specific purpose of “putting into practice, showing, and touching” some of the course’s topics.

Students will be divided into small work teams and will carry out simple experiments. The lab teacher will conduct also the discussion of results. Suitable experiments have been laid down so that they can be easily reproduced at early childhood and primary schools.

The following disciplinary laboratories have been planned:

“Outcomes of light-matter interactions”

“Touching DNA”

“Light and sight”

On theother hand, the planned transversal laboratory is:

Not just HtwoO: The unexpected features of water

Students must follow the transversal laboratory and choose one of the disciplinary laboratories. All these classes will take place at the Opificio Golinelli (via Paolo Nanni Costa, 14 – Bologna), and their scheduling will be communicated before the beginning of the course.

Each laboratory provides 1 CFU, meaning 8 presence hours and 17 homework hours. In fact, laboratories involve not only the active participation of students but also a “final product”. After the completion of the laboratory experiences, where some disciplinary aspects are investigated and some strategies for stimulating scientific knowledge are proposed, the planning of a didactic activity is requested (which might be useful during school trainings as well).

Students will be graded by lab teachers with -1, 0, or +1 (on a 30 scale). The grade obtained in one of the disciplinary laboratories will add to the final score of the integrated Chemistry and Ecology course, while the grade obtained in the transversal laboratory will add to the final score of the Physics course. These grades will be available up to the completion of the grading procedure.


During the course, teaching materials are made available on the online platform “Insegnamenti online” at this address: https://iol.unibo.it/course/view.php?id=24116

The materials include slides and presentations, excerpts from Physics textbooks and other materials for study (e.g.: tutorials, guides for group activities, questionnaires, etc.).

The following texts are suggested (and available from the teacher when out of print) for more in depth study of the course topics.

Texts for module 2 on Optics (available from the teacher):

- PSSC (1973). Fisica, Vol. A, 2a edizione. Edizioni: Zanichelli, Bologna

- Arcà M., Ferrarini M., Garuti N., Guerzoni D., Guidoni P., Magni M. (1989). Esperienze di luce. Edizioni EMME.

Texts for module 1 on Heat and Temperature (available from the teacher):

- Guidoni P., Arcà M., Guardare per sistemi e guardare per variabili, riedizione a cura di AIF.

- Giordano E., Longo C., Majorino Bonelli P. (1988). Calore e Temperatura. Edizioni EMME.

Text for oral examination:

Gagliardi M., Giordano E. (2014), Metodi e strumenti per l'insegnamento e l'apprendimento della fisica, EdiSES

Teaching methods

The course is so designed as to illustrate a large variety of educational methods that can be used in teaching science at elementary level.

For this purpose the students experience on themselves different types of lesson (socratic/dialogical vs. academic lectures), seminars by experts, brainstorming activities, group work supported by tutorials, peer-to peer evaluation, microteaching activities.

During the lab sessions the students are requested to carry out and discuss simple experiments and/or work in small groups on materials provided by the tutor. These activities too are intended to suggest possible activities to include in science teaching at elementary level.

Assessment methods

The final examination, concerning both modules, is made of a compulsory written part and an optional oral part.

The written examination contains both open-end and multiple- choice questions, concerning Physics topics addressed in the modules and taking into account the connected educational aspects and problems. The written examination is individual, takes about 1 hour and is assessed on a 30 point scale (18 meaning "pass").

If rejected at the exam, it is possible to have a second chance.

Only after succeeding in the written part and after having attended the laboratory course, the student can ask to take also the oral part of the examination (that is an optional).

Participation into lab activities is mandatory and the students will be graded by lab teachers with -1, 0, or +1 (on a 30 scale), according to the level of participation shown by the candidate.

For ERASMUS students only: possibility to arrange an oral exam in Italian Language.

In order to take the exam it is absolutely necessary for a student to have enrolled on Almaesami before the enrolment deadline. It is not possible to take any exam without formal enrolment there. In case of problems students MUST contact the UFFICIO DIDATTICO.

Teaching tools

Teaching materialsintroduced during the course will be availableon the online platform “Insegnamenti online” at this address:https://iol.unibo.it/course/view.php?id=24116

Laboratory devices and materialsnecessary for performing experiments and discuss educational implications are provided by the teacher.

Video and audio recordersare used to present multimedia materials (e.g.: educational applets, movies, recorded materials from implementation of teaching sequences in primary schools, etc.).

Office hours

See the website of Giulia Tasquier

See the website of Barbara Pecori