The Physics-First Approach at Bay

The Physics-First Approach at Bay
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By Kyle Persau, science teacher

We often get asked why our science program begins with physics. Physics is our entry point into the sciences because it is the study of observable phenomena. All 9th grade students take Conceptual Physics, and Bay’s curriculum begins with a heavy emphasis on first-person experimentation and collaboration, not memorization of formulas. Experiments are performed and understood within the bounds of what students can feel and see, and they bring their own vocabulary to the experiences. Classes engage in discussion to blend observations and ideas into comprehensive models to ensure students have mastered the concepts. Framing the science in this way builds students’ confidence in their analytical abilities.

From that point, teachers introduce skills such as prediction and empirical data collection to generate graphs, which in turn leads to the creation and application of algebraic formulas. This process aids mastery better than starting with a formula and substituting its memorization for a true understanding of the relationships it represents. The mathematical models used in Conceptual Physics require quantitative reasoning and graphical data analysis, while being directly relevant to the concepts students have observed in their experiments. 


For more on Bay’s science program, visit the curriculum page. Download our curriculum guide to see the list of courses offered in 2023–2024.

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The Physics-First Approach at Bay