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Friday, August 15, 2014

PSSC PHYSICS


PSSC PHYSICS
 
In my senior year of high school, I took Physics.  I somehow was placed in the “Smart” physics class.  I guess they thought I was smart.  I had a “B” in chemistry, and in 1962, a “B” was a good grade, unlike today where they give out “A’s” like candy so as not to upset a student’s self-esteem.

Anyway

I was placed in the “smart” physics class.  It was called PSSC Physics, it was a curriculum designed by an MIT group to study improved teaching of physics, the Physical Science Study Committee. 

Most of my friends took physics in the “stupid” class.  They played with ripple makers and test tubes, memorized formulas and learned some interesting stuff.

In the PSSC class we were taught how to figure out and explain the phenomenon known as the Physical Science.  It was not enough to learn a formula, we were to understand the how’s and the why’s of developing those formulas.

The result of this marvelous program was out of a class of 24; two kids learned and understood the basics of physics.  Twenty two kids learned nothing and to this day do not have a clue as to what physics really is.

I did get a “C” in this course.  How did I get a “C” in a course that I cannot even tell you what the science explains?

It was graded on a curve.

The tests were so hard, that in order for anyone to pass, the teacher Mr. Taylor (loved that dude, but that is another story) graded on a curve.  I clearly remember Mr. Taylor explaining the results of one test, a twenty question multiple choice test,

“Guys you did so bad on this test a 25 was a passing grade.  Now for God sake (teachers could say God in 1963) twenty questions, each with only four possible answers, if you just guessed at every question the odds would be you would get at least a 25.  If you failed, don’t come crying to me. 

A monkey could have passed this test!”

From the back of the room everyone could hear Richard Kuna (who by the way scored 800, a perfect score, on his math SAT’s) mumble,

“Holy Shit, I got beat by a monkey!”

If you asked me today if I took physics in high school, my answer would be… “Sort of.”

17 comments:

  1. F=MA? That's all that comes to mind.

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    Replies
    1. Nothing equals anything on that scrap of paper.

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  2. I'm impressed you got as far as Physics. I was an idiot when it came to Math. In fact, in grade school I was almost placed in "Special Class" because they thought something was wrong with me. My mother wouldn't allow it and I started doing better in school when Art, English and History were added to the curriculum.

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  3. I'm happy to say I didn't take physics in high school. You are brilliant Cranky.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ☺

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  4. I thought you said psychic--which I would have to have been to pass physics!!

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  5. My physics teacher shook my hand when I passed my 'O' level in 1982. He looked genuinely shocked.

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  6. Come to think of it, physics was rather a guy thing, like shop only much harder. Today I take any physic questions to a guy (usually my brother) for answers--I'd never think of approaching a female about it. How sexist is that?

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  7. I was pushed into advanced math but intentionally under-performed to get out. The advanced kids were mostly jerks.

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  8. For some reason math teachers never much cared for my "If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bull shit" attitude. Except for that, I too would have made a helluva physicist.

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  9. I teach watered-down, entry-level physics to high school freshmen. Their teeth are not exactly rotting away from A-candy. It's hard for them to read through a problem and remember to convert things like kilometers per hour to meters per second. Let's not even get into the whole meters-per-second-squared thing with acceleration. Kids are not all that interested in learning how to use formulas these days. I'm sure that comes as a shocker...

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  10. Physics. Ended up taking it because I had a free period when Jame Gage wanted to take it. Two students, not much of a curve. To make sure we passed at all the teacher told us the test questions the day before so we could memorize them. I passed but still have no idea what it was all about. However, I do remember ripple tanks, stretching a slinky out down a hall to learn about waves and dropping stuff off the roof. Never did get the hang of the math.

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  11. I would have been put in the stupid class for sure. I always excelled at English and History. Math and Science... Not my forte!

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    Replies
    1. I could have written the same sentences! So I'll just say, "Ditto."

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  12. I never took physics.
    But I took an Introduction to Data Processing class in 1964 that to this day I still don't know how I passed... with an 'A'
    The teacher was a PhD who spoke a version of American English nobody in the class understood.
    The only thing I remember about that class today is the1001011100001 represents some number and what a flowchart is.

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  13. I never took physics but I have a feeling I still would have been at the low end of that curve!

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  14. Never took physics but I now if we could drink wine during the class I would rock it!!!!

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