Curriculum designed by educators, for educators
PRISMS PLUS is an internationally-recognized high school physics curriculum developed by professors in the Physics and Science Education departments at UNI.
PRISMS PLUS has had a major impact on the teaching of physics in nearly 1500 high schools in the U.S. and abroad. It also has had an impact in preparing future and existing teachers to teach high school physics.
PRISMS PLUS for students provides 44 complete learning cycles in four units. Each learning cycle includes original laboratory activities for exploration, concept development, and application plus the concept enhancer and conceptual practice support materials students need to complete their understanding. PRISMS PLUS was developed by Timothy Cooney, Lawrence Escalada, and Roy Unruh in collaboration with master high school physics teachers with support in part by the National Science Foundation under grant # ESI-9730586.
The comprehensive PRISMS PLUS teacher resources assist you in providing the learning environment you want where students can fully develop and apply their understanding of physics concepts.
How did PRISMS get started?
PRISMS (Physics Resources and Instructional Strategies for Motivating Students) was originally launched in 1987, and was made available to teachers through a variety of funding sources including the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. PRISMS has been validated by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Diffusion Network and the Iowa Professional Development Model Content Network.
In its original form, PRISMS consisted of a teacher’s manual and a computer test bank featuring 2,000 questions and was not intended to replace textbooks. The teacher's manual contained approximately 130 student activities, encompassing an entire year of high school physics instruction.
The latest generation, 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 are then provided with additional activities that are opportunities to apply what they have learned to real-life experiences.
The current version 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.
Want to know more about the history of PRISMS?
The focus of the new PRISMS PLUS is complete learning cycles. A complete learning cycle is one that provides fully integrated experiences that enable students to develop not only their problem-solving and inquiry skills but also a deep, long-lasting understanding of physics concepts.
PRISMS PLUS consists of 44 learning cycles that are divided into the following units:
- Force and Motion (14 cycles)
- Work and Energy (8 cycles)
- Waves and Optics (12 cycles)
- Electricity, Magnetism, and Modern Physics (10 cycles)
PRISMS PLUS materials may be purchased from the UNI Physics Department for online access shared via Google Folder for $100.
If you would like to purchase, please send an email to Dr. Lawrence Escalada (firstname.lastname@example.org) indicating that you would like to purchase. Purchase orders may be submitted by fax to 319-273-7136 care of Dr. Lawrence Escalada or a check by mail made out to "PRISMS PLUS" may be send to the following address: Dr. Lawrence Escalada, Department of Physics, #317 Begeman Hall, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0150.
PRISMS provides the instructional resources for many of the UNI Physics Education professional development programs and courses for existing and future teachers including our Physics Coursework for Iowa Grades 5-12 Physics and All Science Endorsements program offered by UNI Online & Distance Education. These courses include online courses that introduce and utilize high school physics curricular resources including both PRISMS PLUS and Modeling Instruction. Existing and future teachers from all over the U.S. and outside the U.S. may take these courses. These courses can be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit.
For more information about PRISMS PLUS and/or related professional development opportunities, contact:
Dr. Lawrence Escalada
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0150
Phone: (319) 273-2431
FAX: (319) 273-7136