Lyceum Society: A New Approach—Introducing Students to the Study of Science
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Presented by the Lyceum Society
Speaker: Edward Ferrand
Many years of teaching science and directing science programs at the city and federal levels have convinced Edward Ferrand of the need to both educate the public on the major role of science and technology on the economy and to rethink a new type of introductory science course.
The public lacks any appreciation of the importance of science in determining our quality of life, according to Dr. Ferrand. They not only lack understanding of the major role played by quantum theory and relativity in the development of the nation's economy, they lack current knowledge of basic concepts. Our wealth is based on the knowledge and application of quantum mechanics, and we need a better way to teach the fundamentals.
Energy is a more fundamental property than force, but not its replacement in the analysis of everyday situations. Students need to be prepared to accept the nonpicturable concepts of quantum and relativistic mechanics, upgrades of classical mechanics. The universe can be described as either matter and energy, or particles and potential energy fields. All change results from nature's drive to minimize potential energy.
A modern version of natural philosophy should disregard the current separation by disciplines and instead integrate mathematical skills. Energy is a useful way to bridge these gaps.
Dr. Edward Ferrand trained as a chemist and taught chemistry, and quantum and nuclear reactor theory at the Cooper Union School of Engineering for 20 years; organized and directed the Bureau of Science and Technology for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection; and directed the Presidential Young Investigators Awards Program for the National Science Foundation. A 10-year member of Scientific Advisory Board to the Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.), he is also co-author of the National Academy of Sciences book on carbon monoxide, and author of articles in the Encyclopedia of Environmental Science and Engineering.