The Academy of Physics and Technology is an engineering focused program at San Rafael High School spanning three years. The students are engaged in real-world problem solving as they design, construct and test models for a diverse number of applications ranging from rocketry to robotics.
The curricular program consists of two courses per year. These courses integrate the investigation of scientific models with the career technical practices of engineering design and fabrication. Active learning is the central curricular philosophy of the Academy. Students construct their knowledge by making observations, building models to describe physical phenomena, and then devise solutions to various engineering problems.
During each quarter, students work towards the completion of a major project. These projects are the key focus of the program and they allow students an in-depth exploration of the application of scientific principles. Ultimately, the program allows students to explore their interests in engineering, gives them direct exposure to the profession of engineering through internships and mentoring as well as co-enrollment opportunities at the local community colleges.
Project Based Learning: Predict, Test, Analyze
The curricular focus of the first two years of the program is guided by five projects. For each project, students are divided into teams which they choose. These projects offer students the opportunity to develop interpersonal skills, communication skills and the art of negotiation.
During the completion of all of these projects, students are learning the scientific principles that govern the behavior of these engineering projects. They are also learning about the design process as well as the necessary fabrication tools and techniques to bring their designs into reality. Upon completion of each project’s physical product, the students must first generate a performance prediction report.
These reports engage students in a deeper understanding of the application of the science principles and models. Each project is then assessed according to a rubric that scores student achievement based on overall process but also a set of performance metrics.
Finally, students must write a final analysis report that asks them to compare their predictions to the actual performance of their project.
Visit the Academy of Physics and Technology website (physicsfab.org) to learn about the program, curriculum and what's happening.