Tony Mangiacapre

Tony Mangiacapre, high school physics teacher of St. Mary's High School in Manhasset, NY, has combined his degree in instructional technology with modern communications to enhance his own classroom instruction and incorporate new methods of learning and sharing instructional strategies with teachers worldwide. He has taken the entire New York State physics curriculum and put it on a Website, which contains his daily lesson plans with graphics, Flash animation, simulations, interactive games and exams and YouTube videos. These lesson plans are shared with teachers throughout the United States, England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

T&L contributing editor Matt Bolch spoke with Tony Mangiacapre about his views on technology and STEM education.

How has technology helped students understand complicated ideas such as those in physics? How has that same technology helped teachers do a better job communicating these complex ideas?

I have leveraged the multimedia capabilities of the Web to bring the lecture portion of my teaching into the 21st century. All the lecture notes I use throughout the year are posted on a Web page and are displayed in my class every day on a large screen by an LCD projector. Putting my notes on the Web had two main benefits. Previously, my notes were hand-written on a whiteboard and interspersed with my badly drawn drawings. Now they include large photos, animated graphics, sound effects, hundreds of short YouTube videos and over 100 interactive flash simulations I've created over the years. The other benefit of putting my notes online is that my students can now access my notes at home and come close to re-experiencing the day's lesson in a way that they could never have done before.

What can the U.S. education industry do to increase interest/participation in STEM among students?

I believe that the best way to increase interest and participation in STEM amongst students would be by helping teachers move from a chalk-and-talk model of teaching to one that employs exciting demonstrations and engaging lab activities. I think this could be accomplished by employing a teacher training model that I am told is used by the Indian government. I think that our government should set aside money to pay exemplary teachers to video and post short videos of their outstanding lessons online. These videos would be no more than five minutes long and categorized by topic. This way every teacher could get specific ideas for how to make their lessons more dynamic and engaging while at home or in school.

I have already created over a 100 short videos and put them on a YouTube Channel: I have also given a workshop on creating and uploading videos to a YouTube channel for the Long Island Physics Teachers Association, and we have plans to start a YouTube channel and post teacher videos.