C. 14 Commission on Physics Education (1960)
This report provides a brief review of the status of physics education
and of the activities of Commission C14 during the period 1984-87.
Physics education, like physics itself has many different aspects.
Like physics, it is in a constant process of evolution; but since
it undertakes to inform each succeeding generation, education
is also very much a perennial task. It inescapably mirrors the
social and technological environments in which it occurs, and
on a global scale these are many and various. It must deal with
the implications for instruction - at all levels - of the introduction
of new technologies, and of new insights into the questions of
human learning. Needless to say, it must also explore effective
ways of incorporating into curricula the changes in the conceptual
structures and in the continually increasing knowledge bases which
arise from physics research.
In the fulfillment of its charge to stimulate and to promote international
cooperation in the cause of physics education, the Commission
primarily plays the role of a catalytic agent. It is difficult
objectively to assess the intangible results of its activities,
although they are believed to be significant. Brief accounts of
the more tangible activities of the Commission are presented
i) International Conference on Teaching Modern Physics",
CERN, Geneva, Switzerland, 24-28 September 1984.
With the generous support and assistance of CERN, this conference
brought together teachers in secondary schools and universities,
and research workers at the frontiers of cosmology, relativity
and elementary particles, to review recent developments in these
fields and to explore ways of introducing them into instructional
curricula. In addition to serving as a forum for the discussion
of the production of new teaching materials, the conference has
served a prototype for similar conferences elsewhere.
ii) International Conference on "Communicating
Physics" University of Duisburg, Duisburg, ERG, 26-30
Taking the title "Communicating Physics" in a very broad
sense, this conference was concerned with
both verbal and non-verbal means of communicating about physics
to physics students at all levels and to the general public. Among
the major topics considered were the teaching of physics in non-mother
tongues, the uses of computers, communicating via newspapers,
TV, museums and exhibitions, and the role of pictures, graphs
and diagrams in physics instruction. The proceedings of the conference,
edited by G. Born, M. Euler, and R. SexI were published in 1986.
International Conference on 'Trends
in Physics Education", Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan,
24-29 August, 1986.
This conference focused on three main topics: the results of research
in physics education and their application in the classroom, the
impact of technology on classroom teaching, and the motivation
of students toward the study of physics. A noteworthy aspect of
the conference was the very large number of secondary school teachers
who participated. Conference proceedings, edited by K. Shimoda
and T. Ryu, have been published in both English and Japanese.
iv) International Conference on Physics Education Nanjing
Institute of Technology Nanjing, PRC, 31 August-5 September, 1986.
This conference was the first IUPAP sponsored international conference
on physics education to be held in the People's Republic of China.
The topics of discussion included: Results of research in physics
education and their implementation in the classroom, problems
and methods of evaluation in the teaching and learning of physics,
and implications of research and new technologies for teacher
education and professional development. Proceedings or the conference
have been published in English, and selected papers from the conference
have been translated into Chinese.
v) International Conference on Low Cost Experiments and Demonstrations
in Physics Education Cairo University, Giza, Egypt, 10-16
The topics of this conference are well described by its title
and are of interest throughout the international physics education
community. Plenary lectures provided background material for the
the principal thrust was in the 'hands-on' workshops and in the
exchange of ideas, experimental techniques, and experiences among
the conference participants. Proceedings of the conference are
expected to be published before the end of 1987.
vi) International Conference on "Chaos in Education.-
An International Workshop on Teaching Non linear Phenomena at
Universities and Schools',' Balaton, Hungary, 27 April-2 May,
Recent advances in the understanding of non-linear phenomena have
made this complex subject much more susceptible to discussion
at undergraduate and secondary school levels. The conference reviewed
these advances and explored ways of introducing them in to the
secondary school and college curricula. Proceedings of the conference
are expected to be published before the end of 1987.
vii) InterAmerican Conference on Physics Education, Oaxtepec,
Mexico, 17-24 July, 1987.
This conference was sponsored jointly by C14 and by C13, the Commission
on Physics for Development. Its primary objective was to assist
in the creation and development of international networks of individuals,
organizations and agencies for the improvement of physics education.
Twelve working groups of participants, each concerned with a different
aspect of the conference, constituted the core of the conference
and produced reports and recommendations which are included in
the conference proceedings. Proceedings are expected to be published
in 1987 or early 1988.
vii) Other Conferences
In addition to the conferences mentioned above, the Commission
has provided informal encouragement and assistance to a conference
on "Computers in Physics Education" held at the Chulalongkorn
University, Bangkok, Thailand, 28 October- 9 November, 1985,
to an international seminar on "Microcomputers in Physics
Education" held at the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa,
Mexico City, Mexico, 20-24 January, 1986 and to the international
conference on "Teaching Modern Physics: Quarks, Quasars,
and Quandaries" held at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory,
Batavia, IL, USA, 24-27 April, 1986.
This last conference, convened by the American Association of
Physics Teachers, was a direct outgrowth of the 1984 CERN conference
on "Teaching Modern Physics". It was notable for the
provisions for post-conference activities and follow-ups for the
conference participants, and it provide additional useful experience
for the planning of future conferences of this type.
2. Future Conferences
i) International Conference Teaching Modern Physics - Condensed
Matter", University of Munich, Munich, FRG, 12-16 September,
This Conference will follow the general plan of its predecessors
at CERN and Fermi Lab. in its intention to bring together, in
working sessions, scientists at the forefront of research and
those active in teaching to discuss how recent developments in
the field could be incorporated into secondary school and undergraduate
curricula. In this case, however, the topics for discussion will
be drawn from the field of condensed matter physics.
i) Niels Bohr: A
Centenary Volume; Edited by A.P. French and P.J. Kennedy,
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. - This book, published
in 1985, has become a companion to "Einstein: A Centenary
Volume" edited by A.P. French and published in 1979. The
Commission wishes to express its appreciation to its former Chairman
end Secretary for all their efforts in producing this new work.
ii) New Trends in Physics Teaching IV, Edited by E. J. Wenham, UNESCO.
The fourth in the UNESCO series of "New Trends in Physics
Teaching", this volume was published in 1984. The Commission
hopes to continue its cooperation with UNESCO in the publication
of future volumes in this series.
iii) The Newsletter of the International Commission on Physics Education.
In 1984 Peter J. Kennedy succeeded A.P. French as Editor of the Newsletter Since that time fiscal difficulties have substantially affected the rate of publication of the Newsletter, and issues No.14 and No. 15 were published in May 1985 and October 1986 respectively.
4. The Commission Medal
The Commission Medal is awarded for distinguished contributions
to physics education that have been "...major in scope and
impact and which have extended over a considerable period."
In 1985 it was awarded to Victor F. Weisskopf, and in 1987 to
John Logan Lewis.
5. Commission Membership
The Commission records with sorrow the death of its Chairman,
Roman U. SexI, on 10 July 1986 after a long illness. He brought
to the Commission, as to all of his work in physics education,
a rare degree of energy, imagination and effectiveness.
By action of the IUPAP Executive Council in October 1986, E. L.
Jossem became Chairman, G. Born became Vice-Chairman, and J. Barojas
became Secretary for the remainder of the 1984-1987 term.
The Commission wishes to acknowledge the contributions of its Associate
Members: Zhao Kaihua (Peking Univ., Beijing, PRC); S.W. Raither (UNESCO) and
P.J. Kennedy (Univ. of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK). As noted above, P.J.
Kennedy served as Editor of the Commission Newsletter during this
Finally, the current Chairman wishes to express his appreciation
and thanks to each of the members of the Commission for all of
the contributions they have made to its activities.
E. L. Jossem, Chairman C14
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last updated 7/25/96