Ernie L. McFarland

Ernie L. McFarland

Professor Emeritus

Contact Information

Telephone: 519-824-4120 x52718


Office: MacN 433D

Honours & Awards

  • John Bell Award, 2009
  • CAP Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 1997
  • OCUFA Teaching Award, 1989
  • 3M Teaching Fellowship, 1987
  • Honorary Life Membership in OAPT, 1986
  • UGFA Special Merit Professorial Teaching Award, 1986

Areas of Interest

  • Physics Education
  • Physics of Sport
  • Energy and the Environment
  • Liaison with Secondary and Elementary Schools

My primary interest is physics teaching at the undergraduate level. I have written many articles and made numerous presentations on teaching physics and teaching in general, and I chaired the Physics Undergraduate Curriculum Committee at the University of Guelph for 13 years. I have found demonstrations to be very effective in engaging students and aiding their understanding of physics concepts, and I was editor of  "The Demonstration Corner" column in the Ontario Association of Physics Teachers Newsletter for 25 years. I have been active in the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Canadian Association of Physicists’ Division of Physics Education, and the International Commission on Physics Education (of which I was Secretary for 3 years). I frequently referee papers for the American Journal of Physics, and occasionally for Physics in Canada and the Canadian Journal of Physics.

Students enjoy sports examples in physics, and this has led me to study the effect of location (i.e., gravity and air resistance) on athletic performance in running and jumping. A few years ago I wrote an article on jumping for the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Sport Science and Medicine. Another area of interest is energy and the environment. I have often taught a course "Physics 3080 - Energy," and co-authored a textbook Energy, Physics and the Environment. I am also co-author of two textbooks at the first-year university level.

My teaching has spilled over into the secondary and elementary schools through provision of resources and information to teachers and students, talks at professional development days and teachers' conferences, and a "Fantastic Physics Fun Show" for elementary school students.