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Column One: Curriculum

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A University of Wisconsin chemist has developed classroom kits that combine the principles of the rapidly advancing field of superconductivity with the fun of one of its more unusual by-products: levitation.

The kits, developed by Arthur B. Ellis, the university's Meloche-Bascom Professor of Chemistry, are said to be one of the first broad applications of the new high-temperature superconductors.

Teachers can use them to demonstrate the "Meissner effect," which allows an ordinary magnet to float above a ceramic pellet that has been cooled with liquid nitrogen to a superconducting state. New research has made classroom demonstrations of the phenomenon possible for the first time.

In addition to equipment needed for the demonstrations, the kits provide teaching materials on the chemistry, physics, and technology of superconductivity--information unavailable in all but the most recent science textbooks.

The $25 kits are being provided to teachers at cost. For more information, write Mr. Ellis, Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis. 53706.

A group of 14 "diplomats extraordinaire" from Philadelphia-area high schools traveled to the United Nations last month to present their proposals for reforming the organization's charter to Security Council delegates from the United States, the Soviet Union, and China.

The visit capped a year-long project by more than 200 students in 20 public, parochial, and independent high schools. It was coordinated by Teaching in a Nuclear Age, an organization of teachers interested in helping further world peace by teaching young people about global issues.

Students in the project work after school and on weekends, said Margaret Lippincott, director of tina. "We can only suggest that it dovetail with their social-studies classes."

But she added that the group is developing a curriculum and teachers' guide that teachers can use in their classrooms.

To help teachers and curriculum specialists evaluate their instructional programs, the National Assessment of Educational Progress has published booklets containing the learning objectives used in developing its 1988 tests in reading, writing, civics, and U.S. history.

"These objectives reflect the thinking of a cross section of American scholars, educators, and researchers on the important question of what students might be reasonably expected to know in these subjects," said Archie E. Lapointe, executive director of naep.

The booklets are available for $5 each, plus $1.50 for shipping and handling, from naep, CN 6710, Princeton, N.J. 08541-6710.

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