Learning Physical Science

Note: This site is still UNDER CONSTRUCTION.   Updated sections: Content, Target Ideas, Pedagogy, Example Lesson, Example Study Guide, Home, Resources for Faculty & Students, People.

Learning Physical Science (LEPS) is a new curriculum designed to fill the need for a physical science curriculum that is inquiry-based, includes an explicit focus on nature of science and the nature of learning, and is suitable for a large lecture hall environment or a small enrollment class with no mandatory lab component. The course is designed in part for prospective elementary teachers.

LEPS was adapted from an earlier curriculum, Physical Science and Everyday Thinking (PSET), which is an inquiry-based, hands-on, physical science curriculum that includes an explicit focus on nature of science and nature of learning and is appropriate for small enrollment discussion/lab settings. The LEPS curriculum maintains the same research-based learning principles as PSET but is suitable for classes taught in lecture format.

LEPS (like PSET) is a one-semester curriculum with a student-oriented pedagogy designed to enable students to develop a deep understanding of the conceptual themes of energy, forces, and the atomic-molecular theory of matter. LEPS (again, like PSET) also includes activities designed to help students develop an understanding of important aspects of scientific thinking and the nature of science, and enhance their ability to monitor and reflect on their learning. This aspect of the course is The LEPS curriculum has been taught and field-tested at two-year and four-year institutions.

This web site includes a description of the pedagogy used in LEPS; an overview of the content covered by the curriculum; a description of the faculty and student resources; a list of the target ideas; an example lesson and homework, as well as a study guide; and brief biographies of the people involved in the development of LEPS.


Development of the LEPS project has been  supported by the National Science Foundation Grant ESI-0717791. The LEPS curriculum and pedagogy have been partially adapted from three other NSF-supported projects: The Constructing Physics Understanding (CPU) Project (NSF Grant ESI-9454341), the Constructing Ideas in Physical Science (CIPS) Project (NSF Grant ESI-9812299), the CIPS Professional Development Project (NSF Grant ESI-0138900), the Physical Science and Everyday Thinking (PSET) Project (NSF Grant ESI-0096856), and the Physics and Everyday Thinking (PET) Project (NSF Grant ESI-0096856).