The U.S. Office of Education and the National Science Foundation have given the University over $500,000 to help support the first phase of its three-year "Project Physics," to develop a new kind of high school physics course.
The course will use an approach similar to that Gerald Holton, professor of Physics, employed in his text, Introduction to the Concepts of Physical Science. Holton is co-director of "Project Physics."
"Our group hopes," Holton said, "to create a physics course that will be appropriate and appealing to a wide spectrum of students.... We hope to interest every type of student, even those initially hostile to science, by showing them that physics is neither an isolated and bloodless body of facts and theories, nor a glorious entertainment, restricted to an elite of specialists."
Although the first aim of the proposed course will be to give students a solid grounding in physics, directors of "Project Physics" hope that it will check the serious drop in recent years in the number of students who take the subject in high school.
"Science is of course not everything," Holton said, "but the low number of students who now take physics is particularly worrisome in those cases where the student cannot expect a later college education to make up for deficiencies in science. Even the humblest job in our more and more technical society will require some sound knowledge in the physical sciences and the elements of scientific thought."
The 12 scientists and educators who will work on the projects will focus first on studying the available material, and then creating new illustrative material, such as slides, demonstration equipment, and movies.
During the second phase they will test and rewrite the text material at least three times. Finally the material will be tested in schools throughout the U.S. before publication.