M. Fiolhais, P. Alberto, J.
Trindade, Miguel Marques, J. Bandeira and others.
in a practical context, the new opportunities that computational means offer for teaching
the basic sciences and to increase, through the use of computers, networks (Internet),
etc. the popular understanding of science.
Since 1988 we have been
strongly committed, in the framework both of the Theoretical Physics Centre and the
Portuguese Physical Society, to the analysis, development, diffusion, and use study of
software for teaching Physics, in particular, and science, in general (encompassing mainly
Chemistry and Mathematics). A meeting, with international participation, on
"Computers for Teaching Physics and Chemistry" was organised in Coimbra in 1990.
Following this meeting, a partnership of the Portuguese Societies for Physics, Chemistry
and Mathematics was built (SOFTSCIENCES), which has produced 18 programs for teaching in
secondary schools and in the first years of the university. The national impact of this
common action has been enormous. A CD-ROM (entitled OMNISCIENCE 97) containing all these
programs and some other material (multimedia, WWW pages, databases, etc.) has been
produced and is being distributed, with the support of the Ministry for Science and
Technology. A new chair on "Computers for Teaching Physics" was introduced in
the course on physics for future teachers.
Summary of the
planned activity for the next six years:
* Software for studying
physics and chemistry (e.g., chemical equilibrium) namely by advanced modelling and
simulation * Multimedia for learning Physics ("Physics is Fun", "Periodic
Table Multimedia", "Museum of Physics", the latter being an approved Praxis
XXI project) * Internet for Teaching Physics and Chemistry (the project READ Sciences -
Resources for Teaching, Learning and Popularising Sciences, located at
http://www.fis.uc.pt/Read-c/Read_c.html, has been a great success and has obtained the
support of the Ministry for Science and Technology) * Analysis and evaluation of
Educational Physics software, including the development of a database * Virtual worlds for
teaching Physics, with a focus on virtual reality.