Building on existing physics curricula, including “Modeling Instruction” (Wells, Hestenes, & Swackhamer, 1995) and “Investigative Science Learning Environment” (ISLE) (Etkina & Van Heuevelen, 2001), Knowles Senior Fellow Bradford Hill developed a year-long curriculum for ninth grade physical science titled Patterns in Nature. Patterns in Nature revolves around four patterns of change—linear, quadratic, inverse and inverse square—commonly observed in physical phenomena that students explore and revisit throughout the year. For the first time, he taught a semester-long physics course for ninth graders using the Patterns Approach in 2009, and has continued to refine and adapt it for other courses every year since then.

A Co-Facilitated Workshop

While in the early stages of developing his curriculum, Bradford presented sessions on the Patterns Approach to Knowles Fellows at several summer meetings. In July 2013, he co-facilitated a workshop on the Patterns Approach with Knowles Senior Fellow Heather Buskirk. Held in Portland, Oregon, the week-long workshop was attended by 14 Knowles Fellows and one Fellow’s (Emilie Cross’s) colleague. Teachers who participated in the workshop subsequently formed groups focused on using the Patterns approach in different levels of physics instruction, including AP Physics, IB Physics and freshman Physics. The workshop resulted in the formation of several special interest groups within the Knowles community (e.g., AP Physics, IB Physics, and Freshman Physics). Supported by Bradford and Heather, the groups met regularly to discuss issues, challenges, and questions they had around the implementation of the Patterns Approach in their classes.

School-Wide Implementation

After the workshop, Emilie Cross and her colleague became convinced that the Patterns Approach should be implemented across the entire ninth grade science program in their school. Using district teacher work-days, Emilie and her colleague worked one-on-one with the three other ninth grade integrated science teachers at their school to prepare for the introduction of the Patterns Approach at the start of the 2013–2014 academic year.

Since he first developed and used Patterns in Nature in 2009, over 130 teachers in Bradford’s home state of Oregon have implemented it as well.

Please see Bradford’s article on the Patterns Approach, published in The Science Teacher, to learn more.