AAPT Celebrates PSSC's 50th Birthday


PSSC: 50 Years Later

Picture of Jerrold Zacharias

In 1956 MIT physics professor Jerrold Zacharias formed PSSC, the Physical Sciences Study Committee, and launched what became America's largest effort ever to reshape how physics was taught in high schools.

The impact of PSSC was world wide. By the early 1960s more than twenty percent of all high school teachers of physics were involved in this project.  PSSC produced a major new text book, more than fifty extraordinary movies, a sequence of lab materials that has not been equaled, and a series of short books describing in an engaging and insightful way many different aspects of physics -- crystal growing, waves and beaches, how a TV works, neutrons, electrons, the universe, and the physicists who led the way to deeper understanding of a fascinating variety of phenomena.

As you read any piece of this collection, you will see that PSSC had enormous impact on physics teaching, not just in high school but at all levels, and not just in America, but all over the world.

Many questions you might ask about PSSC are answered by the analyses, reflections, and recollections of the authors of this AAPT on-line publication assembled to celebrate PSSC’s fiftieth birthday.

PSSC Analyses, Reflections, Recollections

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Carl Berger - PSSC Birthday Remembrance

Chris Chiaverina - Teaching PSSC Physics: A Remembrance of Things Past

Leon Cooper - PSSC: Hearing the Music

John H. Dodge - PSSC PHYSICS: By One Who Saw It from Beginning to End

A. P. French - Discovering the PSSC: A Personal Memoir

Edwin L. Goldwasser - Reminiscences: PSSC Experiences Revisited

Tom Greenslade - A Summer with PSSC

Uri Haber-Schaim - PSSC PHYSICS: A Personal Perspective

Dick Heckathorn - How PSSC Shaped My Teaching

Jim Hicks - PSSC Reflections

John G. King - Personal Views of the Beginnings of PSSC and My Film Experiences

Karen Kwitter - Happy Birthday PSSC

John W. Layman - PSSC: Instant Credibility for a Beginning High School Physics Teacher

Peter Lindenfeld - From New Brunswick to Tirupati with PSSC

Jane Bray Nelson - PSSC: a Student Perspective

Jim Nelson - PSSC and me

John S. Rigden - With PSSC, Teachers and Students Had To Think

John L. Rudolph - PSSC in Historical Context: Science, National Security, and American Culture during the Cold War

McLaurin Smith-Williams - Twenty Seven Years with PSSC

Robert Stair - Thoughts on My Experiences with PSSC Physics

Arnold A. Strassenberg - An Ode to PSSC

Cliff Swartz - When PSSC came to Long Island