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Physics for the 21st Century

Distributed by Annenberg Learner, PO Box 55742, Indianapolis, IN 46205-0742; 800-532-7637
Produced by Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Science Media Group
Directed by Alex Griswold
DVD or digital download, color, 3 discs, 11 units-30 min. each
Sr. High - General Adult

Reviewed by A. Ben Wagner, Arts and Sciences Libraries, University at Buffalo, State University of New York

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
Date Entered: 9/23/2011

The first tip off that this resource is extraordinary is the renown producer, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. This series lives up to its billing in the accompanying promotional material:

“Dark matter, string theory, particle accelerators, and other big topics in modern physics come together in this11-part multimedia course for high school physics teachers, undergraduate students, and all adults who are fascinated by physics and cosmology. The course covers a broad scale, from sub-atomic particle physics, through atomic and molecular physics, to cosmology.” Physics for the 21st Century

The videos have top notch production values with extended commentary by cutting edge researchers, detailed views of their laboratories and equipment, and clear presentation of key data, graphs, and animations. Rather than just presenting brief video clips containing a few quotes from notables, key researchers actually explain their work at a level almost any high school student with a reasonable basic science foundation could grasp. The Annenberg Learner website for this course provides a description of each unit. The course focuses on the current, most interesting parts of physics like string theory, quantum mechanics, manipulating light, biophysics, and dark matter/energy. Although designed at an introductory discovery level, the videos are enriched by the lucid presentation of actual research data.

If the videos were not enough of a selling point, the set is accompanied by a wonderful 230-page facilitator’s guide with complete lessons plans to accompany each video unit. The chapters have been put together by well-known physics educators and researchers expert in that particular area. Included are classroom activities with questions, high school standards, key definitions, helpful web-based classroom resources, suggestions for presenting the video segment, and reading/homework assignments for use between classes.

Highly Recommended