The main developments in didactical physics in 1998 can be summarized as follows: 1) study of learning processes based on an empirical-constructive approach, 2) increased international co-operation and 3) learning to utilize modern education technology. The group has continued its project on the perceptional approach, i.e. search for constructive principles of teaching based on the conceptual and processual structure of physics (i.e. conceptualization of the separate but inter-related structures of physics) and on development of different kinds of applications for all levels of physics instruction. Among other things, this includes developing and refining the courses of the teacher education program, and planning courses for in-service training for both primary and secondary school teachers as well as development and adaptation of lecture demonstrations (atom.physics.helsinki.fi/~didfys/). Much emphasis has been laid on the development and renewing of the facilities of modern education technology, eg. utilizing the Net and microcomputer-based laboratory systems. Modernization of the basic equipment for demonstrations and teacher training laboratories has been continued. Another trend in developing the instrumental facilities has been to acquire apparatus for advanced student laboratory experiments, such as those for defining fundamental constants.

Extensive complementary education programmes in Didactical Physics have brought the new practices of modern processual teaching and perceptional experimentality into everyday practice in many of the schools of the participants. The experiences from and results of the projects are still to be investigated and confirmed by research.

The group has continued its participation in the Idea-Bridge (Ideasilta) project, the aim of which is to offer gifted secondary school pupils the possibility to plan and do laboratory experiments on their own and thus encounter the scientific process. The group has also participated in developing and studying the educational potential of the so-called Solis-project, based on a kind of national and international solar energy gathering network, on science for secondary school pupils. The writing of two textbook series with extensive teachersÂ’ guides for secondary school physics has continued actively.

Heimo Saarikko