From light polarization to quantum physics: Supporting lower secondary school students’ transition from gestalt to functional thinking
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Institute of Physics and Astronomy, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, HUNGARY
Czuczor Gergely Benedictine Secondary School, Győr, HUNGARY
Physics Education Research Unit, University of Udine, Udine, ITALY
Department of Physics, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, GERMANY
Online publication date: 2024-05-07
Publication date: 2024-06-01
EURASIA J. Math., Sci Tech. Ed 2024;20(6):em2449
In this paper, we present a new minimal mathematical conceptual approach to quantum mechanics using light polarization for lower secondary school students with the aim of bringing students closer to the so-called quantum mechanical way of thinking. We investigated how students think about some of the basic concepts and fundamental laws and we found that certain concepts are quite well-understandable in younger grades too. We studied the introduction of the so-called state circle, which can faithfully represent quantum mechanical formalism without involving students in abstract algebraic calculations. We then categorized and analyzed students’ thoughts on the superposition principle and the lack of trajectory, finding that the concept of measurement and the lack of trajectory were problematic. We explored that younger students tend to hold gestalt-like mental models of quantum concepts, while at the same time being able to use visualizations correctly for reasoning in the quantum realm. Overall, this paper provides evidence in favor of introducing basic features of quantum mechanics as early as in lower secondary school.
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