Michael Fetsko

A solo picture of Michael Fetsko

Mr. Michael Fetsko’s work with professional development started back when he was in graduate school. During this time, he co-taught a course called Physics for Elementary Education Majors with a university physics professor. He also co-authored a Science Laboratory Manual for Elementary School Teachers as part of his master’s thesis. It was through these two experiences that he developed an appreciation for and an interest in working with teachers. After completing graduate school with a Master’s of Science Education in Physics, Mr. Fetsko moved on to work at the Science Museum of Boston. During his tenure at the museum, his primary responsibility was to be the leader of the teacher workshop program. His responsibilities included scheduling, creating, and presenting the workshops to elementary teachers across the New England region. After two years at the museum, he decided to return to the classroom and began his career as a high school physics teacher.

Over the last sixteen years, he has been teaching physics on a variety of levels, including the past thirteen years teaching AP Physics. He believes that the best way for students to learn comes from a mixture of meaningful content and hands-on investigations. The content is presented in a fast paced, energetic way that incorporates humor, quality questioning, and real life examples. The use of Hollywood and YouTube videos to highlight and to promote discussion is an integral component of the classroom teaching and learning. Students’ analyzing the most recent Hollywood movie for good or bad examples of physics is significantly more engaging then looking at a slide or listening to the teacher. Mr. Fetsko is constantly striving to connect the “real” world with the physics concepts being taught in his classroom. The laboratory component of his class is focused on hands-on inquiry investigations. Recently, he has created a series of experiments that involve the use of toys as the device being tested. What is the muzzle velocity of a Nerf gun? What is the motion of a Shake n Go Car? Students have more fun and are more engaged when they are using toys and not apparatus that they have never seen before they entered the classroom. Inquiry learning has been a staple of his lab program from the beginning of his career.

Students need to be given opportunities right from the start of their education at designing and implementing their own experimental methods. This problem solving and critical thinking is vital for success in all facets of later life.

Outside of the classroom, Mr. Fetsko has been involved in a variety of professional opportunities. He has been involved in American Association of Physics Teachers for most of his career and has been asked to give numerous talks at various national conventions. He has also recently completed a chapter on particle physics for an online physics textbook sponsored by the State Department of Education of Virginia. In 2009, he was invited to join a project called Laying The Foundation. This nationwide project is focused on delivering rigorous content and experiments to better prepare students for the challenges of the Advanced Placement and college coursework. Mr. Fetsko works with teachers from grades 6-12 to show them how to raise the expectations in their physics and physical science courses through the use of these exercises.

In 2006, he was asked to work on a program called Physics is Elementary. PIE was a project sponsored by Jefferson National Laboratory and Hampton University and its aim was to team up area high school physics teachers with 20-25 elementary school teachers. During the workshops, Mr. Fetsko created, designed, and instructed various physics related lessons that pertained to the SOL’s for 4th and 5th grade. The workshops involved instruction through powerpoints, hands-on exercises, and group discussions. The elementary school teachers now had content and inexpensive experiments that they could immediately use in their respective classrooms. According to the participants, the program was fun, interesting, and incredibly valuable to their teaching career. Mr. Fetsko was the lead teacher in this program for all three years of its existence.

Michael Fetsko can be contacted via email at mike@scienceoverdrive.org