B Quantum theory for high-school students

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atyy

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I don't think that you can use the Feynman Lectures in highschool. They are full-fledged introductory physics books at the university level, and I'd say they are rather theory than experimental books.

Nevertheless I agree with you that physics in the final classes of highschool should be taught calculus based, and I consider calculus a mandatory subject for any high-school student. Calculus must be consider a topic of general education for anybody at a high school, and indeed applications in physics are very nice examples for its applicability in real-world problems. In fact math is the key to almost everything in the modern world from the natural sciences and technology, including informatics to economy, sociology etc.

In other words any didactics, which tries to "avoid mathematics" in any STEM subject is flawed to begin with.
I disagree. Calculus should be taught in primary school. Otherwise, they are not going to get to the standard model by high school :P

OK, I concede that's a bit much. QED would be enough, but they must be taught the proper Wilsonian viewpoint.
 

vanhees71

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I think that one thing which is relevant to this discussion and which seems to have been overlooked is illustrated by the question:

What percentage of high school students move on to study physics in greater detail?

I don't know the answer but I'm confident in assuming that the percentage is very small, even for those who choose physics as one of their specialist subjects, (A level in the UK). We have to be mindful of this when planning curricula and what we teach must not be too specialised and biased in favour of one small group of students.
This is a dangerous argument. Highschool education should not aim at a specialized preparation for any specific job but it should give a realistic view on all kinds of subjects from math, natural science to humanities and languages. The reason is that as a highschool student you usually don't yet know what profession you'd choose for the rest of your life, and to decide this, you have to get some insight in all kinds of subjects. It's dangerous to specialize too early.

In Germany we have a big debates about and 16 (in my opinion not too good) solutions for school education for decades, one in each state of the federal republic. The debates always have their buzz words in hypes, leading to a lot of dicontinuity in developing good syllabi for the various subjects. Right now the big hype is about "digitalization", not only concerning school but in general. Germany is quite behind schedule with the basic infrastructure and what's called "fast internet" compared to other countries in the EU. Instead of concentrating on this infrastructural issue one debates it for ages.

Of course also the schools are quite backward concerning the hardware infrastructure and, even worse, in both the education of the teachers and consequently also developing the didactics and education material for all levels of the school education. Instead the politicians think it's all done when each student gets "fast internet" and a tablet and each class room some digital black board (called "smart board", as if the board has to be smart rather than the teachers using it...). It's really sad. It's widely overlooked that everything concerning IT rests on math and logics. To be able to use IT in a sensible way you still need all the classical skills of school education valued for centuries in the developed world: the ability to read and write texts and, most importantly, understand them as well as some foundations of math and logic. With the internet, if all the infrastructural necessities are fulfilled and it's available to all students and teachers, you also need the ability to critically judge information and figure out how to separate the "fake news" from the facts. Most of these skills can be taught as well with an old-fashioned black board as with most modern digital ones. The latter only provide more possibilities for visualization, helping to make abstract things clearer with graphics and animations not available by drawing on a traditional black board, but it needs first of all competent teachers who know, how to use it in a sensible way. Just showing YouTube movies is not enough!
 
There is an interesting blog on the possibilities of quantum physics in high schools:
http://physicsbuzz.physicscentral.com/2019/06/quantum-physics-in-secondary-school-how.html
The cited article analyzes quantum physics in 15 different national curricula or educational standards:
https://journals.aps.org/prper/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.15.010130
It shows that there are a lot of possibilities to address this topic on the secondary level. It is not only possible in principle it is the educational reality in many countries.
 

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