Integrating Programming into Physics and Algebra

Publication Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Eric A. Freudenthal, Kien Lim, Karla Carmona, and Catherine Tabor. 2015. Integrating Programming into Physics and Algebra (Abstract Only). In Proceedings of the 46th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE '15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 513-513. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/2676723.2691884


We are infusing inquiry-driven programming activities into algebra and physics courses with the objective of strengthening disciplinary understandings and providing all students a meaningful first experience with programming.

The majority of students who complete 9th grade algebra fail to connect its syntactic and graphical representations to concepts related to rate of change. These learning deficits contribute to the well documented failure of high school and college physics courses to effectively convey conceptual understandings of the relationships between force, acceleration, velocity and position.

Our programming activities for algebra and physics classrooms focus student attention towards the principles underlying symbolic and graphical representations of slope. Implementations of these inherently multi-disciplinary activities within math, physics, and even computing classes have previously only been successful when instructors have broad content and pedagogical knowledge. For our most recent implementations within physics lab courses led by inexperienced TAs, instructional modules that introduce and explore the lab course's conventional kinematic experiments were developed.