Project Accelerate: Bringing AP® Physics 1 to Underserved Students

Economically disadvantaged and underrepresented high school students in many urban, rural, and small suburban communities don’t have access to Advanced Placement® (AP®) courses either because of a lack of trained teachers, limited or no AP program, or a school history of low participation. Physics is often a “gate keeper” course to entry into physical science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers and academic programs. Lacking opportunity to access rigorous physics courses in high school, these demographic groups are hard pressed to compete in STEM fields and academic programs with their peers from more affluent communities. Project Accelerate is a partnership program between Boston University (BU) and the nation’s high schools combining the supportive infrastructures from the students’ traditional school with a highly interactive private edX online instructional tool to bring a College Board accredited AP Physics 1 course to schools not offering this opportunity. During the 2015-16 academic year, Boston University piloted this model with four Boston Public School (BPS) high schools and three small suburban high schools. During the first year of the pilot, students enrolled in Project Accelerate outperformed their peer groups enrolled in traditional AP Physics 1 classrooms.

Greenman, M. D. & Duffy, A. (2018). Project Accelerate: Bringing AP® Physics 1 to Underserved Students. The Physics Teacher, 56(9).