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Physics for the nation's future
Date:2/13/2010

students typically take a biology class in ninth grade, followed by chemistry and then physics, an order chosen to reflect the perceived accessibility of each subject. But the Physics First movement advocates a more European approach, which would teach algebra-based physics in ninth grade to lay the groundwork for chemistry. At this year's AAPT meeting, Elissaveta Bachvarova -- a physics teacher at the Mergenthaler Vocational/Technical High School in Baltimore -- will share data that compares the performance of students in ninth and twelfth grade physics classrooms. This data is part of a larger effort that includes eight other schools in Baltimore that have adopted the Physics First approach. The project, still in its first year, will follow these students to assess the impact of ninth grade physics on performance in chemistry and biology classes. (Talk HD02, http://www.aapt.org/scheduler/wm2010/NameResult.cfm?Code=HD02)

3) FOR THE LOVE OF SCIENCE

Consider two college students who plan to study science in graduate school. One wants to pursue science because of past recognition for good performance -- high test scores, awards, and accolades. The other may not have the best grades but is pursuing science because he or she has always been fascinated by science. Which student will end up publishing more papers and receiving more grant money as a scientist? According to Geoffrey Potvin and Zahra Hazari of Clemson University, who analyzed data on more than 2,000 students, the science lover will tend to prevail -- perhaps, speculates Potvin, because the graduate school experience does not tend to emphasize individual recognition. Ensuring the scientific competitiveness of the United States is not simply a matter of testing, the researchers say, but will also require encouraging students who are truly passionate about science. (Talk Z11.5,

Contact: Jason Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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