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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How did PSSC come to be?

What was it like to be part of the development?

What was it like to teach PSSC physics?

PSSC had a large impact on students and on prospective and active physics teachers, and on the people who created and disseminated the materials

Why did its influence wane?