Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy


Date of this Version

April 2007


Published by American Journal of Physics. American Journal of Physics 75, No. 4, April 2007. ©2007 American Journal of Physics. Permission to use.


Robert Fuller has set out to collect in a single volume the most important works by Robert Karplus on science education. But rather than simply present the articles and writings in chronological order, the editor has grouped the papers in eight chapters, and each chapter begins with an essay written by someone who worked with Karplus. Most of these eight essays add depth and complexity to the papers and, for some, may be as valuable as the reprints.

Robert Karplus received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1948 at the age of 21 and became a full professor at UC Berkeley just ten years later. His work as a theoretical physicist helped establish the then-new field of quantum electrodynamics, and he was frequently referred to as one of the leading theorists of his day. But in the early 1960s he turned his attention to science education—particularly to the question of how children learn to reason about science.

The 27 articles and papers reprinted in A Love of Discovery trace the contributions and insights of Robert Karplus from 1962 to 1981. This sweep of work describes the establishment of one of the first NSF-funded educational reform projects (the Science Curriculum Improvement Study, SCIS), the development of a model for disciplined and effective curricular change, the exploration and adoption of reasoning paradigms to explain and test how children learn science, and the growth of a community of scholars and educators bound by a common purpose and inspired by an unusually gifted physicist/educator. The book provides a glimpse of a second career that led one of the leading theorists of the 1950s to devote his time to working with children, become the president of AAPT (1977), and be awarded the Oersted medal in 1981.

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