13th October 2000 at 01:00
SHAPING THE FUTURE SERIES. Making Physics Connect. Physics in Mathematical Mood. Physics in Vocational Courses. The Study of Matter. Revitalising Physics. Education Series editor Peter Campbell. Institute of Physics pound;5.50 each or pound;22 for set of five.

This series breaks new ground and represents a major contribution to thinking about physics education on a wide scale. It is part of the Institute of Physics's post-16 initiative, which covers a wider spectrum than its new Advancing Physics AS and A2 course.

The format for the five books is similar, in that the main articles have been the basis of discussion days over the past couple of years. From these have emerged "discussion points" at the end of each article and "loose ends" at the end of the booklets. Possible ways forward are then brought together at the end, and brief conclusions for the appropriate bodies involved are suggested.

For example, Physics in a Mathematical Mood makes suggestions to examination bodies, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, universities, teacher training and government. The reader has the feeling that serious steps are being made to draw together the key issues for pysics education and bring them into focus for policy makers.

The five titles are all highly topical. Making Physics Connect looks at issues from bringing physics alive to links with arts and history. This has a wealth of useful ideas to invigorate any department and sets the scene for the other four more specialised titles - Physics in Mathematical Mood, Physics in Vocational Courses, The Study of Matter, a refreshing and useful look at this interdisciplinary subject, and Revitalising Physics Education, which has some inspiring contributions.

The delightful thing about the booklets is that they are not just a static finished product. They encourage each reader to have his or her say, using the inserted response card or via email.

They make clear that all contributions are valued and this must instil more hope and a sense of ownership, especially among physics teachers, who can make their views heard. From the small piece I contributed to the first book I have had several responses, so I hope other people are taking up the invitation to become involved.

Becky Parker Becky Parker is head of physics at Simon Langton girls' school, Canterbury

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