User-Generated Content in Education/21st Century Physics

21st Century Physics Flexbook – Virginia

Students working on lab

CK-12 Foundation


The CK-12 Foundation is a non-profit organization based in California and was founded by Neeru Khosla and Murugan Pal in 2006. The mission of the foundation is to reduce the cost of textbook materials for K-12 education. Most of the material that is currently available is English-based. However, the foundation's mission also includes creating and maintaining material for worldwide usage. The foundation consists of advisors, contributors, partners, and a team. The partners are categorized based on educational (such as Wikimedia), content (such as McRel), technology (such as Qoop), and design & UI (such as fuseproject). [1]

The CK-12 Foundation is known for the creation of the FlexBook, which are open-content curriculum textbooks aimed for education purposes. The FlexBooks have a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike License.

History of Flexbooks (Flexibility + Textbook = Flexbook)


In August 2008, a new model of textbook that will allow teachers, parents, professionals and even students to adapt, create and configure those resources to be used in schools to teach the next generation was launched. These custom built textbooks will be made faster and cheaper than traditional books and will allow for flexibility in content, custom tailored to the needs of individual districts. (Flexbooks,2008)[2] The creators of the flexbook currently identify the following benefits of this format:

  • Access to free textbooks
  • High quality educational content created by educators
  • Content customized to reflect "today" and the different needs of students
  • Quality ensured by CK-12's Community of Educational Practitioners
  • Increased pedagogic choice for all teachers, aligned to state standards as well as developmentally correct content
  • Supported by publishing tools that facilitate quick and easy content creation and distribution
  • Collaborative learning via a community where authors, teachers, and students create, access, share, rate, recommend, and publish [3]

Please visit the flexbooks page in this document for more information regarding the flexbook model. (Wikibooks, 2010) [4]

The Making of a Flexbook Textbook-Virginia


Aneesh Chopra acted as the fourth Secretary of Technology for the state of Virginia before stepping in to the role of Chief Technology Officer of the US Government. As such, Chopra advanced the idea of the flexbook and sought to further the initiative by inviting knowledgeable stakeholders to share their cutting edge knowledge. Virginia officials define a Flexbook as, “an adaptive, web–based set of instructional materials, is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike (CC–BY–SA) and thus can be used as is, used in part, or enhanced by teachers based on their curriculum and classroom needs.”

To ensure the quality of the content, the Flexbook underwent four reviews prior to release: a technical review by a college physics professor, a peer review by other authors, two student reviews, and a public review following an early release on February 27, 2009. There will be periodic reviews of the Flexbook to ensure the most relevant and appropriate information is included. (Virginia, 2009)[5]

This move represented the first open-content textbook to be approved by any state. Authors of chapters included in the flexbook write as volunteers and area considered experts in their fields.

In November 2009, Jim Batterson, leader of the Physics FlexBook movement in Virginia, presented data of the relationship between Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). This PowerPoint illustrates data that points to a desire by the 11-member panel to include aspects of each of the four disciplines in open source FlexBooks. (Convention, 2009)[6]

The Project Team




Neeru Khosla

– Secretary of Technology, The Honorable Aneesh Chopra (Wikipedia,2010)[8]

– Secretary of Education, The Honorable Tom Morris

– Assistant Superintendent (DOE) for Technology & Career Education, Lan Neugent

CK-12 (Partner)

Neeru Khosla, Co-Founder and Executive Director

Murugan Pal, Co-Founder and President


– Tony Wayne - Albemarle County Public Schools

– Andy Jackson - Harrisonburg City Public Schools

– Bruce Davidson - Newport News Public Schools

– David Stern - NASA Goddard, MD (retired)

– Mark Clemente - Va Beach Public Schools/National Institute of Aerospace

– John Ochab - J. Sargent Reynolds CC

– Tapas Kar - Utah State University

– Angie Cutshaw - Newport News Public Schools

– David Slykhuis - James Madison University

– Tom O’Neill - Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School

– Mark Mattson - James Madison University

– Greg Mulholland - North Carolina (Industry)


– David Armstrong - College of William & Mary Physics Dept

– Pranav Gokhale - Maryland (High School Sophomore)

– Tommy Arnold - William & Mary freshman

K-12 Physics Flexbook


The Flexbook is intended to cover all current topics of physics. It is able to be edited by experts as needed in order to keep it as relevant and up-to-date as possible. It consists of these 13 chapters, designed by 7 K-12 teachers, two scientists, and two university professors (see listing). It was peer-reviewed three times before it was opened to students for review. This particular Flexbook was initiated by the State of Virginia but anyone can utilize it as a resource.

Ch. 1: "VA Introduction" by James Batterson

Ch. 2: "Towards Understanding Gravitation" by Andrew Jackson, Harrison City Schools

VA State Standards PH.1, PH.3, PH.4, PH.12
Triple-alpha process

Ch. 3: "Nuclear Energy" by David Stern, Greenbelt, Maryland

VA State Standards PH.4, PH.8

Ch. 4: "The Standard Model of Particle Physics" by Michael Fetsco, Henrico County Schools

VA State Standards PH.3, PH.6, PH.18

Ch. 5: "The Standard Model and Beyond" by Tony Wayne, Albermarle County Schools

VA State Standards PH.3, PH.4, PH.5, PH.6, PH.14

Ch. 6: "Modern Physics" by Angela Cutshaw, Newport News City Schools

Rotating Body
VA State Standard PH.14

Ch. 7: "Nanoscience" by Topas Kar, Utah State University

VA State Standards PH.4, PH.10, PH.14

Ch. 8: "Biophysics (Medical Imaging): by David Slykhuis, James Madison University

VA State Standards PH.4, PH.9, PH.10

Ch. 9: "Kinematics: Motion, Work, and Energy" by John Ochab, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College

VA State Standards PH.1, PH.2, PH.5

Ch. 10: "Laboratory Activities" by Bruce Davidson, Newport News City Schools

Apollo Command Module
VA State Standards PH.2, PH.4, PH.5, PH.6, PH.8, PH.9

Ch. 11: "Statistical Physics and Random Walks"

Ch. 12: "Modeling and Simulation in the Physics Classroom" by Mark Clemente, Virginia Beach City Schools/National Institute of Aerospace

VA State Standards PH.2, PH.3, PH.5, PH.6

Ch. 13: "Modeling and Simulating NASA's Launch Abort System" by Randall Caton, Christopher Newport University

(CK12, 2011) [9] (CK12, 2010) [10]

Official Press Release


Virginia physics flexbook to help supplement 21st century materials for teachers


Governor's Office news release

Published: March 16, 2009

Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced the official release of the 21st Century Physics Flexbook: A Compilation of Contemporary and Emerging Technologies on this date. The collaborative effort resulted in a free to schools supplement to textbooks that may be outdated and in many circumstances, not contain information on newer advances and technologies. “As we work to prepare our students to compete in the global economy, it is important that we think creatively about how we provide our students with the best education possible,” Governor Kaine said. “The Virginia Physics Flexbook will strengthen our physics curriculum by providing teachers free access to materials that will expose Virginia students to cutting-edge technologies.” (WSLS)[11]

For Further Investigation


View the Ck12 FlexBook demo video, enroll in webinars, and check updates.

See Subject:CK-12 books on Wikibooks.

California Flexbook initiative

Florida's reading initiative

Frequently Asked Questions about Flexbooks