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Integrating Einsteinian physics in the year 7 Australian Science Curriculum: What are the challenges in design and implementation?
1  The University of Western Australia


Integrating Einsteinian physics into school curricula has become a challenge for researchers. This process involves choosing
appropriate disciplinary knowledge to be accommodated in the curriculum and researching ways to illustrate how teachers can use this knowledge
in their classrooms. The Einstein-first project research is centered on building a new curriculum on Einsteinian physics (space, time, geometry,
gravity) in Western Australia and on teacher’s ability to embrace this modern paradigm and enhance their scientific and didactical knowledge.
My research is designed to trial a learning progression of Einsteinian concepts within an overall curriculum structure for year 7. Many
concepts related to Einstein’s theory of gravity will be included in association to the existing year 7 curriculum in Australia. I will
identify the primary challenges in design and implementation, which helps organize appropriate teacher professional learning to understand
and teach Einsteinian physics concepts. A series of 14 physics lessons were developed for the Year 7 Science curriculum in Western Australia.
The first three lessons introduce concepts of measurement, straight lines, Geometry, space (curved), time, nature of spacetime. The concept
of velocity, terminal velocity, acceleration, inertia and mass are then developed. Students then learn about Einstein’s conception of gravity
through the analysis of free-falling bodies and thought experiments. They use the spacetime simulator to investigate topics of general
relativity, the attractional force between masses and orbits in our Solar System. The learning progression ends with introducing black holes
and gravitational waves.

Keywords: Teaching Einsteinian Physics; General Relativity; Curriculum Design; Teacher Collaboration