How high schools teach quantum physics – a cross-national analysis of curricula in secondary education

H.K.E. Stadermann, E. van den Berg, M.J. Goedhart

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Quantum physics (QP) changed our worldview, it brought us modern electronic devices, and its almost mythical image fascinates. Although QP is relatively new in secondary education, it is now part of the national curricula of many countries. To understand the current state of QP content in high schools, we scrutinised upper secondary school physics curriculum documents in 15 countries. In these countries, we identified a similar core curriculum of QP which contains the following seven main categories: discrete atomic energy levels, interactions between light and matter, wave-particle duality, de Broglie wavelength, technical applications, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and the probabilistic nature of QP. We also found differences in the focus of the listed topics of individual countries, which indicate different views on teaching QP. The thematic focus of QP items is related to the underlying goal of science education and to the way students' knowledge is tested. This overview shows which QP content is generally feasible at a secondary level and which pedagogical perspectives are possible. Therefore this study might lead to reflections on existing QP curricula, and inspire countries that do not have QP in their curriculum yet.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012045
JournalJournal of physics: Conference series
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021
EventGIREP-ICPE-EPEC-MPTL 2019 - Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 1 Jul 20195 Jul 2019


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