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Science education goes pop

50 UK schools are to explore new terrain for science education.

Fred Pearce(PEARCEFRED@compuserve.com)

LONDON — UK architects of a new schools science curriculum have angrily defended themselves against charges of "dumbing down". The pilot curriculum for 14 to16-year olds taking GCSE exams, which is being dubbed "pop science" by its opponents, is due to be unveiled later next month and tested in 50 schools from September.

It could be the standard for all schools under the national curriculum in two years' time. If so, out will go traditional learning in physics, chemistry and biology. In will come a new curriculum hooked to more socially relevant or controversial topics such as food and diet, cloning, GM crops and the origins of the universe.

The trials of the new courses, developed by John Holman, chemistry professor at the University of York, come at a happy time for the government. Though under development for almost three years, they will be widely seen as an unexpected...

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