PARIS, 1981

IUPAP-22 1982

C14. Commission on Physics Education

T he Commission has had a varied and active programme during the period covered by this report, and the retiring Chairman would like to record his gratitude to the members of the Commission, and especially to the Secretary, for their involvement and dedication and for the initiatives that they have provided. Details of our activities are given below.

1. The Role of the Laboratory in Physics Education

A conference on this subject was in preparation at the time of the previous Commission report. The conference was held in Oxford in July, 1978, and attracted 150 participants from 50 different countries. Through plenary sessions and working groups, the conference discussed the teaching of physics laboratory at a wide range of levels. This conference was under the joint sponsorship of the Commission and GIREP (Groupe International de Recherche sur l'Enseignement de la Physique) and was partly supported by UNESCO. The Proceedings of the conference were published in 1980 (see list of Commission publications at the end of this report).

2. Physics Education Newsletter

Publication of this Newsletter, begun in 1977, has been continued under the vigorous editorship of Mr. John L. Lewis, with funding from UNESCO. Five issues were produced during the period covered by this report. The Newsletter is sent free of charge to a growing mailing list of about 800 recipients, and provides an extremely effective channel of communication for international activities in physics education.

3. The Einstein Centenary

The book, Einstein: A Centenary Volume, prepared by the Commission with the financial backing of UNESCO, has had a very substantial success. The original version, published on the centenary date (March 14, 1979) by Heinemann Educational Books, London, was quickly followed by an American edition, published by Harvard University Press. Within six months, thanks to the energetic efforts of Commission member Professor G. Delacote, a French edition was published, and March 1981 has seen the publication of a Japanese translation organized by Commission member Professor Y. Kakiuchi.

A German edition is in preparation under the supervision of Commission member Professor R.U. Sexl. and, although the immediacy of the centennial occasion is now past. it is possible that editions in other languages may also be produced in due course.

4. The Physics­Mathematics Interface

As noted in our last report, the Commission involved itself with ICMI and the ICSU Committee on Teaching of Science (CTS) in the planning for a conference on the mathematics/science interface at the secondary level. This planning culminated in a conference on Cooperation between Science Teachers and Mathematics Teachers, held in September 1978 at Bielefeld, West Germany, under the joint sponsorship of UNESCO, ICSU­CTS, ICMI, the Commission, and the host institution (Institute for the Didactics of Mathematics of the University of Bielefeld). The conference organizer was Professor H­G. Steiner, and the Commission was represented at the conference by Dr. P.J. Kennedy and Professor R.U. Sexl. The Proceedings of the conference were published in 1979 by IDM, Bielefeld.

In August 1980, again through its connection with the ICSU Committee on Teaching of Science, the Commission was represented by its chairman at the Fourth International Congress on Mathematical Education, held at the University of California, Berkeley. He and three other members of ICSU­CTS participated in a number of sessions, and presented papers at a session especially devoted to the science/mathematics interface.

5. Physics and Society

In 1978, at the invitation of ICSU-CTS, the Commission prepared a statement about the role of science education, with special reference to developing countries. This formed part of the input to a document, The Importance of Education and Training, prepared by ICSU­CTS as background for the 1979 UN Conference on Science and Technology for Development.

In March, 1979, the Commission was represented by its chairman and secretary at a CTS­sponsored seminar at Malvern College, England, on Science, Education and Society. At this same time a statement on science and technology education was prepared, at the request of UNESCO, to represent the Commission's views relating to UNESCO's long­range programmes on adapting science and technology education to a changing society.

The Commission expects to receive an invitation to be represented in "observer" status at an International Congress on Science and Technology Education and National Development. to be held at UNESCO, Paris, in November 1981

The newly formed IUPAP International Commission on Physics for Development, will we hope, have strong interactions with ICPE in this area of common interest.

6. Postgraduate Education

Our last report mentioned the Commission's preparatory work for an international survey of postgraduate education in physics. This survey sponsored by UNESCO. was carried out by Mr. M.G. Ebison (Assistant Secretary of the Institute of Physics. London) and Dr. P.J. Kennedy, Secretary of the Commission. The survey, completed in 1980 and published by the Commission, provided the background for an International Conference on Postgraduate Education of Physicists held at The Charles University, Prague, in August 1980.

The conference attended by 114 participants from 37 different countries discussed questions relating to the training of professional physicists of all kinds. The Proceedings have been published (see publications list at the end of this report). and Dr. P.J. Kennedy presented a paper about the conference at the New York Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers in January 1981.

7. Education for Physics Teaching

A conference on this subject scheduled immediately after the Prague conference on postgraduate education (so as to facilitate attendance at both) was held at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, in September 1980. The conference was attended by 176 participants from 62 different countries.

The conference with a strong emphasis on working­group activities concentrated primarily on the teaching of physics in secondary schools. There was, however, some discussion of teacher training for both pre­secondary and post­secondary education The Proceedings of this conference are in preparatation and will be published as a companion to the Prague conference volume.

8. The I.C.P.E.. Medal

Reacting positively to a proposal from one of its members (Professor G. Marx) the Commission decided in 1979 to institute a medal to recognize outstanding contributions to physics teaching of a kind that transcends national boundaries. The first award of the medal was made on 3 September, 1980 to Professor Eric M. Rogers, during the Trieste conference on Education for Physics Teaching. It is expected that future awards of the medal will be made every one or two years.

9. Ongoing Activities

(a) The Commission has decided to give its official sponsorship to a Summer School on Research in Physics Education, to be held in 1983. The plans have been discussed with Professor G. Delacote, who will be director of the project.

(b) The Commission is collaborating with UNESCO in the preparation of New Trends in Physics Teaching Vol. IV. which is scheduled to be published by UNESCO in 1982 under the editorship of E.J. Wenham.

(c) The Commission hopes to make collections of published papers on the teaching of various areas of physics. Each collection would be published with an introductory essay. A first collection of this kind, on the teaching of quantum physics, is being prepared by Professor G. Marx.

(d) The Commission has had preliminary discussions about the possibility of producing a book, similar to the Einstein Centenary volume, on the occasion of the centenary, in 1985, of the birth of Niels Bohr.

10. Commission Meetings

Three meetings of the Commission were held during the period covered by this report:

March 27 ­ 28, 1979, Paris

September 5, 1980, Trieste

March 26 ­ 27, 1981, Monte Carlo.

11. Commission Publications

Jones, J.G.. and Lewis, J.L. (editors), The Role of the Laboratory in Physics Education

( Hatfield, U. K.: The Association for Science Education, 1980).

French, A.P. (editor), Einstein: A Centenary Volume (London: Heinemann Educational Books, 1979; Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1979).

Delacote, G., and Souchon­Royer, J. (editors) Einstein: Le Livre du Centenaire

(Paris: Editions Hier et Demain,, 1979).

Kakiuchi,, Y., et al., Einstein:: A Centenary Volume Japanese edition

(Tokyo: Baifukan Publishing Co., 1981).

French, A.P., The International Commission on Physics Education (A History) Contemp.. Phys. 21, 331­334 (1980).

Ebison, M.G. and Kennedy, P.J., A Survey of Post­Graduate Education,

The International Commission on Physics Education (1980).

Kennedy, P.J. and Vacek,, K., Proceedings of the International Conference on Postgraduate Education of Physicists (Prague, 1980),

The International Commission on Physics Education (1981).

Kennedy, P.J. and Loria,, A., Proceedings of the International Conference on Education for Physics Teaching (Trieste, 1980),

The International Commission on Physics Education (1981).


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