Prof Edit Yerushalmi, Prof. Yaron Lehavi
Yocheved Brestel, Irina Veisman, Avi Rahav, Dr. Smadar Levy, Dr. Zehorit Kapach, Esty Magen,
The National Center of Physics Teachers, was established in the Department of Science Teaching in the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1995. The National Center works closely with the Ministry of Education. It coordinates most of the operations related to physics education in Israel and implements many of the initiatives.
The central goals of the National Center are to develop teacher leadership, promote the professional development of physics teachers (about 1000 teachers), cater to their professional needs, and support their practice. Accordingly, the center is in charge of different projects and workshops aimed at attaining these goals including, teacher conferences and TEHUDA – the physics teachers’ journal and resources delivered mainly through the very popular user-friendly website of physics teachers http://ptc.weizmann.ac.il/. The website was
established and designed to reach all teachers experienced and new in particular, the 70% of teachers who do not participate in face to face professional development programs. This user friendly website supports teachers in their daily practice and includes a huge repository of meaningful, viable and sustainable resources attuned to their changing needs (e.g. tasks relevant to the particular topics being taught in a given period of the year; selected explanations of phenomena via films, instructional materials ready for downloading and editing). It also provides opportunities for teachers from all over the country to interact with each other creating a dynamic and peer-supported community of practice. The website attracts about 750 visits per day and according to ongoing evaluation, teachers report on its invaluable contribution to their professional practice.
One of the methods for promoting the use of the website is the operation of a twin-website for physics students http://aleph.weizmann.ac.il/ (ALEPH-
Atar Lomdei Physica) that enables students to benefit from many resources of the teacher website, and enables teachers to enact various activities offered by the website. About 900 students visit the website per day and the average time a student spends at the web site is 560 seconds. Several projects of the National Center are engaged with developing methods for enhancing students’ learning through this website
The team at the center consists of researchers, and practicing physics teachers whose experience influences the design and implementation of the projects.
Most of the physics teachers who are presently in leading positions participated in one or more of the professional development frameworks developed and enacted through the National Center.