TEACHERS' E-MAILS OF APPRECIATION TO MICHAEL CROW,
PRESIDENT OF ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY (ASU),
and to other ASU Administrators,
for supporting the Modeling Instruction Program
(a sample collected from 2005 to 2007)
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005
From: Patricia MacEgan
Subject: Modeling Physics program
This letter is in support of the ASU Modeling Physics program. I am a Physics teacher in Sacramento, CA, and I have come down to ASU this summer because it is impossible to get Physics and education method at home. It is impossible to get Physics content classes unless I quit my job and take classes during the school year. Neither CSUS nor UC-Davis offer these courses during the summer, and they do not have a methods-type course in Physics. So I am very grateful for your program.
The Modeling Program is a very smart program. When I see the depth that my students achieve in their understanding, and I see that they continue in other courses to apply the skills they learned in my class, I know that the method is effective. I am still a novice modeler, but this is a program that makes sense to me. My students feel successful, and learn to be active learners with this style of discourse. I hope that your university continues to support this program, and provide this training. It is hard for me to give up such a long time at my home, but this program is the best thing going for Physics education, and it is worth the effort to come down here.
The University of Washington also has excellent Physics education research, which I pay attention to, because Lillian McDermott and her group have shed light on students' misconceptions. Currently ASU's program provides the tools to correct those misconceptions, and I don't know of any other program this advanced to deal directly with Physics teaching methods.
I urge you to continue your support for this important and worthwhile program. Thank you!
Loretto High School, Sacramento, CA
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005
From: erica ponthieux
Subject: Physics Modeling Summer program for teachers
My name is Erica Ponthieux. I am a teacher of physics, among other things. For four years I searched for a masters program that would make me a better teacher and give me a deeper understanding of the subjects that I love. I looked all over my home state of Arkansas and found nothing of interest. Then I received a notice about the modeling program on a physics list serve. I came last summer and this summer to work on a MNS degree. Without the grant money and support of this university, I could not have afforded to do this. This program revitalized my teaching. Instead of spending this year thinking about changing professions after 14 years, I spent it watching students learn to enjoy learning. I worked on an action research project, collaborating with a teacher in Tempe. This year has been hard work, but I have discovered a tremendous amount about how students learn, and I have just begun. Please continue to offer and support this outstanding program so that other teachers can receive this tremendous training.
From: Yolanda Cox
Sent: Thu, 21 Jul 2005
Subject: modeling program
My name is Yolanda Cox, a physics instructor from Mississippi, and I want to say thanks. Thanks for supporting the Modeling Program here at Arizona State University. It is awesome. I have learned so much and I look forward to sharing my new-found knowledge with my students.
This program has given me new determination to make a difference. Thanks again for all you do to help support the program.
From: Gheri Fouts
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2005
To: Barry Ritchie [Chairman, Department of Physics]
Subject: Physics instruction at ASU
Dear Dr. Ritchie,
MODELING INSTRUCTION IN HIGH SCHOOL PHYSICS
As I prepare for yet another year of teaching teachers the modeling method in a summer workshop here in Honolulu, I think of the current directions in education with National Standards and State Standards that have come out in the last couple of years, and I am reminded that the Modeling Instruction Workshop I had back somewhere in the 1990's was actually a step into the future. All that I learned and all that I contributed in writing the curriculum as a Phase II modeler remains today as the hallmark in a paradigm shift in not only Physics education but science education in general. It was easy to teach Physics using the old lecture-problem-test method. We all thought that only the truly bright students should be taking Physics anyways. But actually, survival was attained by only the special student who could withstand all those boring lectures and hideous tests. And as the numbers of students dwindled, we saw our jobs put into jeopardy and our country complaining that students are not choosing Physics as their major. So I signed up for the workshop that Dr. Hestenes and Dr. Jackson offered through ASU at 3 campuses across the country, and it was the start of a revolution in Physics education. It is evolving today into a revolution in science teaching. This model of teaching is being promoted at every level and is not restricted to science teaching. And I am proud to say that I was part of the movement at the start, and I continue to help teachers transition into a modern student centered classroom where scientific discourse and collaboration is part of everyday activities.
I am very grateful that ASU offered the time and place for this happening. Sometimes, universities become so elite that the communication between the university and the community, or university and high school, becomes non-existent. Now the government is promoting education k through 16, and is practically insisting on communication between university and high school, and university and elementary school. Grants offered to secondary teachers stipulate the availability of university mentors, not to mention including communication on the listserv level. All this we have already had in place for almost ten years with the modeling program hosted at ASU. As I teach my course here in Hawaii, I am also promoting the modeling listserv and the advanced degree program offered for High School Physics teachers, all at ASU.
I am writing this because sometimes something historically great happens at a university and the university administration may not realize it has happened. ASU is known for many important contributions to society, but the radical change in science education and the models used to make changes in general education right now can be traced back to Dr. Hestenes and his co-workers' efforts to change the way Physics was being taught. And that is a credit to ASU. I hope this fact is brought to public attention. I would like to see it all advertised, not for monetary gain, but for notoriety because I think ASU is not recognizing the event that began in the nineties and continues today to grow and become the accepted educational paradigm shift that we needed so badly in education.
Science Department Head
Maryknoll High School
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005
From: Nathan Justis
[sent to President Crow; Carol Switzer, Director of Summer Sessions; Dean of the College of Liberal Arts]
Dear Sirs (or Madame):
I would like to express my gratitude to you and the University for providing me with an outstanding
opportunity to attend graduate classes in the Master of Natural Science program for physics and chemistry teachers this summer. The instruction provided in the Modeling Instruction program here at ASU is, to me and countless others, invaluable. I know of no other program in the country that provides such crucial instruction as does this one. Research is showing time and time again that traditional lecture-based instruction in the sciences is not having its desired effects on the students. It is good to know that
someone, namely ASU, is acting in view of that research. The Modeling program here is showing
teachers how to teach students to think and retain knowledge instead of simply memorizing numerous facts temporarily. I am very grateful, once again, to have a chance to be a part of this grand institution, and specifically, to take part in the successes and progress brought about by the Modeling Instruction
program. Carol Switzer, I am especially grateful to you for your assistance with tuition waivers. Many of us would not be able to participate in such a program otherwise.
From: David Coupland (a teacher-leader, in his second career)
Sent: Sunday, July 02, 2006
To: Michael Crow
Cc: David Hestenes; Jane Jackson
Subject: Modeling Instruction Program at ASU
Dear Dr. Crow,
I would like to express my thanks to Arizona State University for the
Modeling Instruction Program, offered by the ASU Department of Physics. The
Modeling Instruction Program is an internationally recognized pedagogy for
teaching high school physics, led by Dr. David Hestenes of ASU, a leading
physics education researcher. I just completed my first 3 week workshop in
the Modeling Method at the Tempe campus, and I can say without reservation
it was the most valuable professional development I have received. My
classmates included teachers from Singapore, Australia, Hawaii, and Canada,
as well as Arizona and across the U.S., which illustrates the esteem in
which this program is held. I was surprised to learn that the NSF grant
supporting the program was not renewed, given the current national emphasis
on science and math achievement in high school. I hope a way can be found
to keep this important program alive in future years.
Kensington Woods High School
Date Mon, 3 Jul 2006
From Bud Nye
Subject Modeling Mechanics Workshop Appreciation
Dear Dr. Crow,
A few days ago, I completed my first modeling workshop at Arizona
State University: Modeling Mechanics. Even though my district may
not pay for my trip and I may have to pay for part or all of it
myself, I made the decision to attend. I want you to know that it was
everything that I had hoped for, and more. I simply cannot imagine a
better professional training program or one more essential for
teaching physics or chemistry. I consider myself lucky to have found
out about it and to have participated.
I want to express my most sincere appreciation for whatever role you
may have played in managing this series of workshops. If at all
possible, I definitely plan to attend more of these workshops during
the next couple of years--yes, even at my personal expense, if necessary.
Bud Nye, R.N., M.S.
Teacher, Physics and Chemistry
In February 2007, an ASU Insight article featuring David Hestenes’ work was on the home page of the ASU website. The article is at
In response, several teachers e-mailed the ASU Insight staff writer, Dan Jenks; or ASU President,, Michael Crow; or Department of Physics chair, Robert Nemanich.
From: Jeff Steinert
Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2007
To: Daniel Jenk
Subject: David Hestenes
Your article on David Hestenes was a fitting tribute to a man who has
brought so many wonderful experiences to me and my students. Since
learning to teach physics using Modeling in 1998, I have used the method
with great success with more than 500 of my own students and influenced
the education of countless others by leading workshops for other high
school and college instructors in Maine and Florida.
As I'm sure you will hear from many others, David's championing of this
instructional approach has had a profound effect on my professional and
even my personal life. I am currently enjoying my 22nd year as a
physics and chemistry teacher at Arizona School for the Arts, a small
charter school in Phoenix that recruited me for this position because of
my close association with the Modeling Workshop project at Arizona
State. They were particularly interested in hiring someone with
extensive experience using Modeling to teach both physics and chemistry.
Last summer, I, along with my wife and sons, moved to Phoenix from
Maine. There were many reasons we made the move, but very high on the
list was the fact that it brings me into close proximity to the center
of the Modeling universe - a universe that has at its center David
Physics and Chemistry Instructor
Arizona School for the Arts
From: Christi Laudolff
Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2007
To: Daniel Jenk
Subject: Hestenes article
Thank you for a wonderful tribute to Dr. Hestenes. As another "modeler"
I will also attest to how much better teaching physics has been over the
last 8 years using the modeling method.
Christi Ann Laudolff, CSA
Bourgade Catholic High School
4602 N 31 Ave
Phoenix. AZ 85017
From: Paul Bianchi
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2007
To: Daniel Jenk
Subject: Hestenes article
I'm glad to see that ASU recognizes the major contribution Dr. David
Hestenes has brought to the teaching of Physics in the United States.
After teaching Physics in high school for 15 years, I spent three
summers in the Modeling Physics program, and it changed the way I teach
tremendously. No other professional training I received - not my
undergraduate education classes, not my Masters in education from
Columbia Teachers College, nor the many summer professional development
courses - was nearly so useful or insightful. Given the state of science
education around the country, David Hestenes and his program ought to be
considered vital to the national interest. Modeling Physics simply does
a better job of making kids think - and most of them actually enjoy it!
Horace Greeley High School
From: Carmela Minaya (a Hawaii teacher – leader and NSTA Shell Awardee)
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2007
I am an Arizona State University graduate student procuring a Master of
Natural Science in Physics degree. I have attended ASU during the summer
months from August 2002 until August 2005. I am in the process of filing
the paperwork to graduate in May 2007. I am also a high school chemistry
teacher at ------- Schools in Hawaii.
I was pleasantly surprised to recently read two well-written articles about
Dr. Hestenes' work on Modeling Instruction and Geometric Algebra on the
university website. Dr. Hestenes has received a long list of accolades,
receiving the Oersted Medal from the American Association of Physics
Teachers, as well as the program itself receiving the only excellent
designation from the United States Department of Education for any high
school program nationally, but I think the most precious was from ASU
through these articles. I'd like to commend Daniel Jenk for highlighting
Dr. Hestenes' contributions so eloquently and finally giving Dr. Hestenes
long overdue praise from his own university.
My main purpose for composing this email was to thank you personally for
allowing Dr. Hestenes to impact my own teaching practice through the MNS in
physics program. You have a stellar faculty and staff running the ASU
Physics & Astronomy Department. They helped me overcome some internal
obstacles within the university to finally see the silver lining of my
graduation. Timothy Newman, Department of Physics Director of Graduate
Studies, and Robert Culbertson, Co-Director of the Modeling Instruction
Program, were both extremely helpful in assisting me despite the hardships
that come for an individual participating in a large university setting.
The bottom line is that I just wanted to express my gratitude to you for
allowing this program to exist at ASU. Thank you for providing tuition
waivers for high school teachers through Carol Switzer. This program has
impacted students even thousands of miles away in a science classroom in
Hawaii because of my summer participation.
Date: Fri, 09 Mar 2007
From: James Vesenka (a young physics professor)
Dear President Michael Crow:
I am writing to thank ASU for the wonderful recognition given to David Hestenes in the Department of Physics in an ASU news posting. At the urging of a colleague I applied and was accepted into a "Phase III" modeling workshop David funded through the NSF. The workshop made an enormous impact in my teaching. I adapted and implemented the high school modeling instruction for college use at the University of New England and have taught over one thousand undergraduates and trained over 200 teachers in modeling instruction in the past six years. David definitely deserves the kudos.
From: Mike Waters
Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2007
To: Robert Nemanich
As I sit in snowy Maine, I think about the impact that my modeling
experience at ASU has had on my teaching. I want to thank you for your
part in my getting to ASU and having my tuition paid. I had taught physics
for 20 plus years before adopting the modeling style. I do not think that
my teaching has reached the finished product stage, but I have totally
switched to the modeling idea in the last four years. In fact I now teach three
different courses this semester and all three are based entirely on my
ASU experience. I would not have predicted this to be possible five years
I hope this summer or next to lead a modeling workshop for teachers in
northern New England. Thanks for your part.
From: John Crookston
Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2007
To: Robert Nemanich
Subject: Impact of Dr. Hestenes' research
Hi Dr. Nemanich,
As the new chair (congratulations!) of ASU's Dept. of Physics, I'm sure
you're getting to know more about the department every day. I want to
briefly tell you about the personal impact Dr. Hestenes' research in
physics education has had on me.
I am a high school physics teacher who probably would have left teaching
had I not taken a modeling instruction workshop in the Summer of 1999.
For me, this workshop and the modeling method of instruction became a
catalyst that completely changed my approach to teaching and my attitude
about teaching. I was transformed from a teacher who was constantly
frustrated with students who couldn't "get it" into a teacher who better
understands students and guides them to make sense of physics by giving
them the opportunity and the means to do so through modeling
As a graduate (Summer 06) of the MNS program I want to let you know how
grateful I am that ASU has this program for physics teachers and
supports the efforts of the ASU faculty who participate. I hope the MNS
program continues to flourish at ASU much the same way that Dr.
Hestenes' research in physics education has flourished at ASU over many
years. As you know, ASU is one of only a handful of higher education
institutions around the country that are interested enough in physics
education at the pre-college level to have an innovative graduate
program for high school physics teachers.
As department chair you have great influence over the direction physics
education research and PER-based programs like MNS take at ASU. As
someone whose students have benefited from modeling instruction and as a
graduate of the MNS program who knows many other teachers who have also
benefited, I hope you will work to maintain a significant place for PER
and the MNS program at ASU.
Forest Hills High School
Sidman, PA 15955
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007
To: Michael.Crow@asu.edu, firstname.lastname@example.org
From: Matt Watson (a modeling workshop leader)
Dr. Michael Crow--
In the summer of 2002 I was one of three teachers from my HS who
attended a Modeling Mechanics workshop at ASU. We arrived at ASU on
a mission -- to learn and adapt Modeling instruction for use in a 9th
grade physics classroom -- the workshop exceeded our expectations, and
all three Physics teachers were compelled to come back to ASU in the
next summer for a follow-up Modeling workshop.
The Modeling Workshops at ASU are far and above the best professional
development I have found in 14 years of teaching in the HS
classroom. For the last five summers I have been a part of a
Modeling Instruction workshop, either as a participant or as a
workshop leader. None of this would have been possible w/o the
insight and leadership of David Hestenes and Jane Jackson.
Just wanted to offer my thanks and gratitude to ASU for continuing to
support the Modeling Instruction program.
From: Richard Gosnell (a high school physics teacher in a northeastern state)
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2007
To: Michael Crow; Robert Nemanich
Dr. Crow and Dr. Nemanich,
I am writing to acknowledge the work of David Hestenes and the Modeling
Physics Project. I am a teacher at a small, rural high school in
western ------. I have been teaching for 12 years in both physics and
general science. I have been involved with the Modeling Physics
Project for the last 5 years. While I received my training at
Appalachian State University, I consider Arizona State U. as the
source of my evolution into an effective teacher of physics and
science. The work done by David Hestenes in physics education has
truly reached beyond the boarders of ASU or even Arizona. At my high
school we graduate an average of 100 students a year. I average 35
students in physics each year which is well ahead of the national
average of 25% of public school students taking a physics course. I
attribute this success to my implementation of Modeling in physics.