I.U.P.A.P.-24 March, 1985



This Commission has attempted to follow the good example of previous Commissions in trying to maintain a high level of activity both in bringing to fruition the many plans passed to us by our predecessors and in preparing activities which we recommend to our successors. The full details of the work of the Commission are available in the collected minutes of its meetings and an abreviated statement is set out below.

1. Membership

In addition to those elected at the 17th General Assembly. the Commission has had the help of three Associate Members: Professor G. Delacote (France), Professor A.P. French (U.S.A.), Editor of the Newsletter, and Dr. N. Joel (Unesco).

2. Meetings

The Commission will have met three times before the 18th General Assembly. On 27-28 March 1982 in Paris, on 4-5 Scpt. 1983 in Pavia,. Italy, and on 22-23 rd Scpt. 1984, in Geneva, Switzerland. The membership of the Commission has been well represented at each meeting with the exception that, in spite of repeated attempts no contact was ever made with Professor B.R. Rao (India), or Professor Yoon (Korea).

3. Completed activities

i) First Summer Workshop "Research on Physics Education" La Londe /es Maures, France 1983.

This major activity of the Commission which was guided by a distinguished international planning group and, most particularly by Professor G. Delacote, and Dr. A. Tiberghien attracted 100 people from some 30 countries. It is hoped that the Workshop began to establish an international community engaged in work in research in physics education and that the Summer Workshop as a regular event will help to support this new community.

The Proceedings are now available from 'Edition du C.N.R.S.', 295 rue St. Jacques, 75()()5 Paris.

ii) The International Conference on "Using History of Physics in Innovatory Physics Education, 5-9 Sept. 1983, Pavia,, Italy

This conference, which was initiated by the Centro Studi per la Didattica Universita degli studi di Pavia, Italy, was supported both by the l.C.P.E. and the Commission on the Teaching of History of Science. The major planning task was borne by Dr. F. Bevilacqua of the University of Pavia. The Conference returned to the theme discussed by a earlier l.C.P.E. Conference at M.I.T.. in 1970, but widened it to consider the way in which modern developments in history, sociology and philosophy of physics may indicate ways in which the teaching of physics may be extended and illuminated: not only for the potential physicist but also for the general public. Some 90 people from about 20 countries attended together with distinguished speakers from all four disciplines concerned and it is hoped that the conference will lead to fruitful co-operation between these disciplines.

The Proceedings are available from the Centro Studi per la Didattica. (see above).

4. Planned activities

I) International Conference on the "Teaching of Modern Physics" C.E.R.N., Geneva, Switzerland 24th - 28th September 1984.

Planning is now well advanced for this conference which is to be treated as a prototype for similar conferences elsewhere. It will be concerned with the impact on physics education of new developments in physics; particularly those in cosmology, relativity and elementary particles. Thc Conference is expected to produce teaching materials. including pictures and other visual materials, for use by individual teachers in the school and the university.

The Commission has received generous support and assistance from the authorities at C.E.R.N. in the preparation of the Conference.

ii) International Conference on Communicating Physics

I.C.T.P., Trieste, 14- 19 July I 985.

This conference will attempt to develop better methods and materials -both verbal and non-verbal - for communicating about physics to physics students and to the public. A major concern, of interest to many from developing

countries, will be the role of language in physics teaching and the difficulties of teaching in an unfamiliar language. It is hoped that the Conference will be very practical and will offer the experience of producing and analyzing materials including programs graphics and text books.

iii) International Conference on "Trends in Physics Education"

Tokyo Japan, 24-29 August 1986

This conference is intended to investigate the way in which modern research into the teaching of physics and modern developments in technology may bring beneficial results to the practicing teacher in the classroom and lecture hall. The Conference will also offer an opportunity to discuss the work done in physics education in Japan.

5. Publications

i) Niels Bohr Volume

It is hoped that the very successful I.C.P.E. Einstein Centenary Volume edited by A.P. French, which is currently published in English, French, and Japanese will appear in modified form in German in 1984. It is the intention of the Commission to follow this success with a similar volume to celebrate the centenary of Niels Bohr which occurs in 1985. The planning of the book the acquisition of materials and the search for the M.S.S. contributions is now well advanced and is due to be completed by about October 1984. The Volume will be edited jointly by A.P. French and P.J. Kennedy and published by Heinemann Educational Books (London).

ii) The Commission has continued its association with the Unesco New Trends in Physics Teaching series by co-operating with the editor, E.J. Wenham, in the production of Vol. IV. The completed text was made available to Unesco in 1981 and it is hoped that the volume will appear in 1984.

iii) The ICPE Newsletter continues to appear under the editorship of A.P. French and with the financial support of UNESCO. The Newsletter which appears roughly twice a year is distributed free of charge to some 850 addresses in 130 countries and the Commission is always ready to receive applications from other interested readers. The Commission confirms again its gratitude to Unesco for the support in this useful venture and its thanks to the retiring editor A. P. French.

iv) The Commission has decided that in future, as a matter of policy, it will make its non-commercial publications available free of charge on application and payment of postage only.

6. The Commission Medal for distinguished contributions to physics education. The medal was awarded to the late Professor P. Kapitza (U.S.S.R. ) in 1981 and to Professor J. R. Zacharias ( U. S. A. ) in 1983.

The Commission is prepared to consider the award to any properly nominated individual.

7. Finance

The Commission has found that its ability to meet and to plan activities and its ability to support valuable work by others, have been severely limited by financial considerations. Unlike some other Commissions the work of the Commission on Physics Education does not take place against a background of established research work or with an infra-structure based on professional or governmental interest. Despite the support offered by I.U.P.A.P. and its own self-financing activities, the Commission feels that, in order to make its work more effective, it will need to seek additional financial support. To this end it will endeavour to obtain finance from Foundations and other funding agencies but, meanwhile, it would hope that I.U.P.A.P. might consider Commission 14 to be one which deserves preferential funding.

8. As a tail-piece to this report the retiring Secretary would like to record the pleasure he has gained from working with the Commission for some eight years, to express his thanks to all those who have helped him and to wish good fortune to those who join the next Commission and who will carry on its work.


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