Physics Alive

Physics Alive is the podcast where host, Brad Moser, Ph.D., sparks new life into the physics classroom. Each episode supports and shares the many forward-thinking developments that have come from physics education research and inspiring educators. Brad speaks with teachers who employ innovative and active learning styles, researchers on the frontiers of physics education, catalysts for change on important social issues in the STEM community, and students who want the most out of their education.


episode 2: Find everything you ever wanted to know about PER on PhysPort with Sam McKagan

What if I told you there is a place where you can discover new teaching methods, access scores of validated assessments, find videos to train your TA’s and LA’s, and even read a guide for how to move a lab course online. And what if I told you it is absolutely free and open access. Don’t believe me? Well it’s true! It’s called PhysPort, and today I’m speaking with Sam McKagan, the director and mastermind behind this website. She shares how it got started and what you can find on the site, as well as current projects that she is involved with, including the Living Physics Portal, a completely open source community for sharing curricular materials to teach physics to life science students.


Quantum mechanics PhET simulations:

  • PhET Quantum simulations


Sam created a place for all things Physics Education Research (PER): PhysPort!

  • PhysPort


Another great resource is Compadre.

  • Compadre


If you go onto the PhysPort website, a great place to start is the “Expert Recommendations.”

  • Expert Recommendations


Multiple resources available for teaching online, especially valuable during the current global pandemic. For example:

  • Article: I suddenly have to move my lab course online!  What should I do?


Also find resources about equity in physics are available.

  • Article: What racial, gender, and sexual orientation bias still exists in physics and what can I do about it?


Looking for validated, research-based assessments to help test students’ conceptual understanding of topics? 

  • Assessment


Recent publication by Sam et. al. is:

  • Article: Best Practices for Administering Attitudes and Beliefs Surveys in Physics
  • Article: How physics instruction impacts student’s beliefs about learning physics, a meta-analysis of 24 studies


An under-utilized component of PhysPort is a Periscope Collection, a collection of video lessons to use with TA’s and LA’s in a training course.

  • Periscope

And finally, a newer project, The Living Physics Portal. An open source website where faculty can share curricular resources dedicated to physics for life science majors.

  • The Living Physics Portal


Question for Sam: If you could endorse one piece of PER, what would it be?  There’s a paper that came out in 2020 that she’s really excited about: “Demographics of physics education research” by Stephen Kanim and Ximena C. Cid. 

  • Article: Demographics of PER


Published on Sept. 23, 2020, just a few weeks after my interview with Sam, was another article she co-authored:

  • Article:PhysPort Use and Growth: Supporting Physics Teaching with Research-based Resources Since 2011 


 2020-10-30  51m