C. 14. COMMISSION ON PHYSICS EDUCATION
REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1981-1984
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.
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).
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
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
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.
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
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.
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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