The Knowles Academy offers state-of-the-art professional development experiences for teachers. All Academy courses are designed and facilitated by experienced teachers who understand the complexities of teaching in today’s world.

Through this Knowles Academy course, physics teachers will engage in an innovative approach to teaching physics that integrates project-based learning, modeling, and the science and engineering practices. The essential question that drives the approach is: “How do we find and use patterns in nature to predict the future and understand the past?”

Physics for the Next Generation: The Patterns Approach

By using the ideas described in Next Generation Science Standards, this course prepares teachers to guide their students to make predictions, plan and conduct experiments, collect data, engage in data-centered discussion and enable analysis of the results and argument from evidence. Participants in the workshop will engage in the practices of science and engineering throughout the four days, starting with the anchoring experiments that contextualize the four common patterns in physics: horizontal line, linear, quadratic, and inverse. Teachers then engage in and learn to teach two project-based engineering units that serve to spiral the anchoring patterns with new physics concepts, developing conceptual, graphical, and symbolic understanding. The course includes three follow-up sessions that are designed to support teachers during the school year as they make instructional shifts.

Course Objectives:

  • Support students to identify common mathematical and graphical patterns in nature
  • Establish coherence across physics concepts
  • Contextualize student learning through problem solving and scientific inquiry
  • Facilitate data-informed student discussions
  • Support student writing skills using the claim-evidence-reasoning framework
  • Develop formative assessments that lead to improved instruction and student learning


Teachers will receive ongoing coaching that is initiated by a four-day, in-person workshop and supplemented with three virtual meetings.

Day 1:
  • Experience the Patterns Approach
  • Explore the anchoring experiments to establish horizontal line and linear mathematical patterns
  • Model student talk about data
Day 2:
  • Connect the Patterns Approach to NGSS
  • Explore the anchoring experiments to establish quadratic and inverse mathematical patterns
  • Learn to incorporate real-world problems into physics courses
  • Explore a classroom project on texting and driving that teaches concepts of motion and computational thinking
Day 3:
  • Use student-collected data to form claim-evidence-reasoning arguments
  • Learn how scientific inquiry informs data-driven engineering design solutions
  • Explore a classroom project on bungee jumping that teaches concepts of energy
  • Learn to integrate computer programming into engineering projects
Day 4:
  • Explore ways to enhance student understanding through scientific reasoning and writing
  • Learn to assess student understanding in patterns-based projects
  • Connect with the national Patterns Approach community
  • Explore Patterns Approach resources for differentiation and continued learning
Virtual Meetings:
  • Three-hour online sessions with workshop facilitators and other participants to discuss common problems of practices and implementation challenges (dates TBD)


Academy Services

All Knowles Academy courses can be customized to meet the specific needs of schools and/or districts. Please use the below form to request information about custom services.

Want More Info on Knowles Academy? Physics for the Next Generation