August 2019

New Year, New Challenges, New Beginnings

A beautiful rowan tree I photographed during one of our summer hikes. This tree has a lot of symbolism attached to it and it has a captivating beauty.

As we are enjoying the last weeks of summer, many of us start thinking about the new academic year. This is always an exciting time for teachers, students, university professors, and families. This is also a perfect time to ask ourselves about our personal goals for the next year. What would we like to achieve this year? What do we want to do differently than we have done in the past? How do we want to grow and what would we like to learn? How do we want to contribute to our community? I also like to ask myself, how can I support physics teachers across BC, who might not be my current students, but who are beginning teachers? This is one of the reasons, I have been actively involved with the BC Association of Physics Teachers for the last decade and a half. I hope that all of my students – future physics teachers will join the Association.

Once again, I am looking forward to teaching my Physics Methods course (EDCP 357). It is my ninth time teaching it. This year I would like to focus on the labs and doing science experiments, so my teacher-candidates have an opportunity to experience different technologies both as students and as teachers. As a result, I decided to remove a few assignments from my syllabus this year, in order to give my teacher-candidates more time to engage with the labs at a deeper level.

I am going to share the fast-speed video experiments with future physics teachers, as we have been working on this project for the last year. When I gave a talk about it in Budapest this July and during the Canadian Association of Physicists Congress in Vancouver this June, it brought a lot of questions and generated a lot of interest from physics educators. I hope my students – future physics teachers – will take these ideas and will use them with their smartphone. Our research paper on the topic of slow-motion videos in teaching physics will be coming out soon in the Canadian Journal of Physics. So I have exciting plans for my physics methods course.

We are also getting ready to facilitate another successful Family Mathematics and Science Day on October 19, 2019. I hope we will have lots of guests coming to enjoy hands-on science and mathematics. We have worked on many new resources for this event during the summer.


And going back to the rowan tree I photographed on one of our weekend hikes. I recently found out that this tree has a long history in many cultures. It is a very popular tree in Ukraine and Russia, where it is considered to be the Tree of Life (Happiness). And what is even more interesting, I just discovered that it is also very popular with the Celtic culture: This web site says:

“The Rowan tree has a long, sacred history. Since ancient times people have been planting a Rowan beside their home as in Celtic mythology it’s known as the Tree of Life and symbolises courage, wisdom and protection. ”

So while I am not going to be able to plant this tree beside my classroom, we have one at the entrance to our building – the Faculty of Education Building (SCARFE). I hope this tree will give us the courage to learn, make mistakes and try again. I hope it will give us the wisdom to listen to others even if we disagree with them and to make our own decisions. Finally, I hope it will protect us from going with the crowd and will inspire us to look for our own path.

Happy New Academic Year everyone!

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