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
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,
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
Kennedy, P.J. and Vacek,, K., Proceedings of the International Conference on Postgraduate Education of Physicists (Prague, 1980),
The International Commission on Physics Education
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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last updated 7/25/96