Four Harvard professors are currently participating in a program sponsored by the Educational Services, Inc. to develop a modernized high school physics course, which Burce F. Kingsbury, Assistant Director of the program, believes "has already caused a major upheaval in the two short years since its inception."
The reason which prompted a group of educators at M.I.T. to initiate the program two years ago closely resemble the philosophy expressed in the recent report of the Committee on Science in General Education, which recommended increased Specialization in Natural Science courses. There was no official connection between the two, however.
Fletcher G. Watson, professor of Education, felt that the new course fills the deficiencies of previous physics course, which were too general and covered "antique" material and "cute applications" rather than the fundamental concepts of modern physics. He added that these weaknesses are overcome by presenting "a limited among of material" in greater detail, which should give the student a working understanding of the concepts involved rather than a mere catalogue of remembered facts.
Watson and Edward M. Purcell, Donner Professor of science, are each contributing to a series of 60 films which are being developed for use in conjunction with regular classroom sessions. I. Bernard Cohen, associate professor of the History of Science, is serving as an adviser in the writing of the sections dealing with the history of science in the course textbook.
A series of monographs discussing topics in physics not covered in formal classroom work will be published this fall. Phillippe E. LeCorbeiller, professor of Applied Physics, described the purpose of these monographs as an attempt to "have the most competent people write on a scientific subject in a way that could interest educated people who do not have a formal background in science" in addition to interested students in the course.