String theory in high schools
Posted by Melissa on December 8, 2008
Sunday’s New York Times included an article about Scarsdale public schools phasing out Advanced Placement courses and replacing them with Advanced Topics courses that allow more flexibility and depth. What caught my eye was the following: “Physics students now study string theory — a hot topic in some college courses that is absent from the Advanced Placement exam.”
While I agree that the calculus-based AP physics exam is limiting — only topics in mechanics and electricity and magnetism are covered — I’m not sure I would choose to include string theory in a high school physics course. I applaud efforts to expose students to current research, but how about selecting something that is possibly relevant as well as cutting edge? Maybe photonics or spintronics. Perhaps quantum entanglement and quantum computation. But string theory?