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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A Summer with PSSC by Tom Greenslade

An Ode to PSSC by Arnold A. Strassenberg

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

From New Brunswick to Tirupati with PSSC by Peter Lindenfeld

Happy Birthday PSSC by Karen Kwitter

How PSSC Shaped My Teaching by Dick Heckathorn

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

PSSC: a Student Perspective by Jane Bray Nelson

PSSC and me by Jim Nelson

PSSC Birthday Remembrance by Carl Berger

PSSC: Hearing the Music by Leon Cooper

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

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

PSSC Reflections by Jim Hicks

PSSC PHYSICS: A Personal Perspective by Uri Haber-Schaim

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

Reminiscences: PSSC Experiences Revisited by Edwin L. Goldwasser

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

Thoughts on My Experiences with PSSC Physics by Robert Stair

Twenty Seven Years with PSSC by McLaurin Smith-Williams

When PSSC came to Long Island by Cliff Swartz

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