Course Information


The Project ITOP sequence consists of ten two-credit courses that merge physics content with readings from the history of physics, the philosophy of science, and the education research literature. The courses are blended in nature. There are seven in-class meetings for 3 hours and six online assignments/dialogues. Class meetings are held at Boston University.

The courses are offered at Boston University at the graduate level through the College of Arts and Science and the BU Wheelock College of Education.

Each academic year classes begin the second week of September. Five of the ten courses are offered each year between September and the end of June.

Course Goals: The instructional approach of Project ITOP to teaching physics is based on the physics education research literature. The history and philosophy of physics is included to enrich the understanding of the physics concepts. Our goal is for participants:

  • to deepen their conceptual understanding of physics;
  • to implement science education research findings in their lessons;
  • to develop a repertoire of examples, analogies, and metaphors drawn from the history of science, as well as everyday experience; and,
  • to significantly improve problem-solving and laboratory skills for themselves and subsequently for their students.
  • to respond to current conditions, the courses will use and explore remote instruction, at home, and virtual lab activities.  

You can download a short printable summary of the ITOP objectives and courses here.

ITOP classes are small and provide individual attention and hands-on, inquiry-based learning in a relaxed, friendly environment. Teachers taking ITOP courses have different prior knowledge and the small class size allows for differentiated instruction. We are aware of teachers’ heavy work schedules. We try to adjust the ITOP course schedules and requirements to accommodate the other professional demands on participants’ time.

Expectations of Participants: Participants will be expected to:

  •  complete online assignments including pre-session work, responses to typical physics problems, and written responses to reading questions. 
  • participant in activities and discussions during remote learning sessions
  • submit responses to a midterm and final exam
  • prepare and discuss a high school physics lesson plan based on the material discussed during the course

The sequence of two-credit courses with syllabuses is listed below.