I created the following materials to explain the material in physics classes in Hesse (one of the states of the Federal Republic of Germany) in secondary schools as easy to understand as possible.
A special feature of these materials is, on the one hand, that energy is treated as a central quantity in physics, being much more important as work, the addition of energy by mechanical means. On the other hand, Maxwell’s equations and the Lorentz force give the central structure for almost all phenomena in the field of electricity and magnetism. In qualitative form, they are accessible even to people who have not gone very deeply into physics. Thirdly, I think it is much more important to deal with the states in quantum physical systems than to solve the Schrödinger equation, because in this way one gets access to far more and very important areas of quantum physics.
I was inspired for my approach by Martin Wagenschein, who strongly recommended to describe a relation qualitatively before describing it quantitatively. Most importantly, I was inspired by Richard P. Feynman, who broke new ground in his Feynman Lectures on Physics by including both Maxwell’s equations and quantum physics in his introductory physics lecture. These lectures were a crucial help to me in understanding physics and greatly motivated me to incorporate these approaches into my school teaching.
To give Maxwell’s equations is contradictory to the approach that the students should find out the laws of nature themselves in class by student experiments. However, this seems to me to be an illusion. The measurement uncertainties in student experiments are usually much too large to allow truly accurate measurements. On the other hand, the discovery of a new law of nature requires that one is thoroughly familiar with a certain field and knows the correlations and the previously attempted solutions – something that is not given under the conditions of today’s physics classes. Therefore, in my opinion, it is not possible to prove a law of nature in school, but only to illustrate it in a credible way. On the other hand, Maxwell’s equations and Lorentz force give the central structure of the area in question and are thus a very great help to really understand and learn the connections.
Not listed here is geometrical optics, which I think is a very easy field to understand.
My wish is that these materials will help everyone who wants to understand physics, especially teachers and students.
The materials are: