GIREP Conference Proceedings and Selected Contributions

Montpellier 1976

Proceedings of the GIREP Seminar



The 5th GIREP Seminar took place from 6 to 10 September 1976, in the pleasant site of the University of Montpellier, France under the responsibility of Goery Delacote, Professor at the University of Paris. The seminar was sponsored by the French Ministry of Education, GIREP , the Societe Fran<;:aise de Physique, the Union des Physiciens and Unesco.

We also thank the following organizations for support: the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the Office Frarn;ais des Techniques Modernes d’Education (OFRATEME), the British Council, the University of Sciences and Technics in the Languedoc, the Conseil General de l’Herault, the city of Montpellier, the Institut de Recherche sur l’enseignement des Mathematiques and the U.E.R. de formation des maitres. We are also grateful to Unesco for financial aid towards the publication of the proceedings.

200 people from 29 different countries participated in the work of the seminar. Two different topics were discussed: Statistics and probabilities in the teaching of physics in the secondary school ‘ and ‘ The first steps in the teaching of physics at the beginning of secondary (10- 14 years’.

These two topics were introduced at plenary sessions, and related problems were presented and discussed in smaller working groups.

At the end of the seminar conclusions of the working groups were reported at plenary sessions. This book contains the main papers of the conference and the reports of the working groups.

However, the content of the book does not give full credit to the impact of this seminar. The way in which this meeting was organized with exhibitions of equipment and books, including a presentation of audio- visual aids, gave the participants ample opportunity to meet informally and exchange points of view on physics education in an international atmosphere.

The success of the seminar was to a very high degree due to the effective and enthusiastic way in which Daniele Cros, Jacqueline Souchon-Royer, Louis Higouinet and their staff took care of all practical details. On behalf of GIREP I wish to thank them all for their invaluable help. I also want to thank the many participants, who gave valuable contri- butions to the seminar by preparaing displays of equipment, presenting pedagogical papers or by taking active part in the discussions. Last, but

not least, I must thank Professor Goery Delac6te for the brilliant way in which he managed to realize GIREP’s plans for a fruitful meeting on physics education in France.


President of GIREP

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Venice 1973

Proceedings of the GIREP Conference



At the 3rd GIREP Seminar, which took place from 16th to 18th March, 1972, in Kiel at the Institut die Piidagogik der Naturwissenschaften, Arturo Loria of the Physics Institute of the University of Modena accepted the responsibility of or- ganizing the 4th Seminar, the subject of which was to be “The teaching of electricity, magnetism and quantum physics in secondary schools”. The Palazzo Sceriman in Venice was chosen as the centre for the Seminar, which was subsequently held from 14th to 20th October, 1973.
The organizing Committee consisted of Arturo Loria with one of his staff, Giovanna Partesotti, and the GIREP Com- mittee, Poul Thomsen (President), Erwin Baurmann and John L. Lewis (Vice-Presidents), Maria Ferretti (General Secretary) and Karl A. Thern0e (Treasurer). Anna Maria de Gennaro was the Secretary of the Seminar.

Many other people collaborated in organizing the Seminar; particular mention should be made of Maurizio Francesio, Evelina de Poli, Annunziata Pere, Giorgio Casalini, Giorgio Alzetta and, of course, the Director of the Palazzo Sceriman, Pierpaolo Minelli.

Ezio Mazzega is to be thanked for his valuable assistance in the preparation of the material for printing.

Following tradition, formal invitations were also extended to people not belonging to GIREP: a new departure was signalled by the participation of a large number of Italian secondary school and university teachers, 70 of the former being sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Education, while the latter were sent by their respective Universities.

95 people attended the Seminar officially, of whom 41 were GIREP members from 17 different countries. Therefore, taking into account the Italian secondary school and uni- versity teachers, mentioned above, the technicians and a number of interested persons who were admitted without any formalities, the audience totalled about 200. The simultaneous translation facilities were of great help.

In all, 26 separate papers were presented, but the develop- ment of the Seminar was not just a succession of disjointed communications. The first three days were largely given over to electromagnetism, and hence, by implication, to relativity. Many positive suggestions were made regarding the teaching of these topics in schools. The second part of the meeting dealt mainly with the problem of introducing quantum mechanics. It was widely recognized that on account of its inherent conceptual and formal difficulties quantum mecha- nics as such cannot be adequately taught at the secondary school level, but that the quantum character of Nature can be effectively illustrated. Time was allowed for discussions on school policy and for a series of practical demonstrations, and in the evening several new physics films were shown. In this way, a certain variety was introduced which served not only to present important ideas but also to maintain interest. At the end there was a paper which reminded the audience that physicists, though immersed in research and questions of teaching, are not blind to the more general social import of their subject.

The Venice Seminar was an undoubted success and it was particularly gratifying to see such a large number of Italian participants. Letters of appreciation testifying to the use- fulness of the Seminar have been received by the Italian Minister of Education and by the undersigned.

The Mayor of Venice, Giorgio Longo, payed tribute to the Seminar by kindly inviting a delegation to a reception at his Residence.

UNESCO gave essential financial aid towards the publica- tion of the Proceedings. The meeting was also sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Education, by the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche and by the Italian UNESCO Commission. Support was granted by the Societa Italiana di Fisica and by the Associazione per l’Insegnamento della Fisica; assistance was given by the Universities of Modena and Padua, by the Provveditorato agli Studi di Venezia, by the Licea Scientifico G. B. Benedetti di Venezia and by the Ente Provinciale per il Turismo di Venezia.
A special word of appreciation is due to Ersilia Oricchio of the Ufficio Aggiornamento Insegnanti e Metodi of the Ministry of Education who realized the importance of the Joint Meeting and gave her full support and encouragement, and to Giovina Ciancaglini of the Ufficio Studi e Programmazione of the same Ministry who was of great help in overcoming the difficulties inherent in a new venture of this sort.

Last but not least we also want to thank dr. K. A. Thern0e for his careful proofreading.

Arturo Loria and Poul Thomsen

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Kiel 1972

GIREP International Seminar


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