Department of Physics

Philosophy and Objectives

PRISMS, which stands for Physics Resources and Instructional Strategies for Motivating Students, began in 1987 as a collection of high-interest activities related to real-life experiences of high school physics students. These activities were referenced in early editions of Paul Hewitt’s Conceptual Physics lab manual. PRISMS has been validated by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Diffusion Network and the Iowa Professional Development Model Content Network. PRISMS PLUS utilizes an enhanced learning cycle pedagogy in which students engage in explorations prior to introduction of abstract concepts. After the concepts have been introduced within the context of these explorations, students then are provided with additional activities that are opportunities to apply what they have learned to real-life experiences.

PRISMS PLUS includes activities and exercises that are designed to develop conceptual understanding of the major physics ideas being introduced, engage students in scientific inquiry, and cultivate scientific reasoning and problem-solving skills.