APS News

Meeting Briefs

Texas Section, March 9 - 11, College Station, TX
The APS Texas Section held its annual spring meeting in March at Texas A&M University, in conjunction with the corresponding regional section of the American Association of Physics Teachers. The meeting featured general sessions on frontiers of physics and innovations in physics teaching, as well as an extensive program of hands-on workshops for physics teachers and tours of physics research facilities. Friday morning's lectures opened with a review of high school physics texts by Clifford Swartz, editor of The Physics Teacher. He was followed by two talks on the accelerating expansion of the universe by Wendy Freedman (Carnegie Observatory) and Robert Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). AAPT Past President Joel P. Meyer spoke at Friday evening's banquet, demonstrating the joys of physics demonstrations. On Saturday, Dan Bruton and Stephen Austin of Texas State University spoke on the search for minor planets.

New York State Section, April 7 - 8, Corning, NY
The APS New York State Section held its annual spring meeting at Corning Community College in April, in conjunction with the corresponding regional section of the American Association of Physics Teachers. The selected theme was the tools, research and theory of astrophysics, chosen because of the on-campus availability of a working model of the Palomar telescope, as well as the proximity of Corning Inc., a company long involved with the production of large telescopes. Virginia Trimble (University of California, Irvine) was the featured speaker at Friday evening's banquet. Session speakers included James Houck of Cornell University, who spoke on SIRTF, which he considers to be the last of the great observatories, as well as Alfred Mann and Douglas Cowen, both from the University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell's Ira Wasserman. The meeting closed with a "make and take" physics teaching workshop.

New England Section, April 14 - 15, Providence, RI
The APS New England Section held its annual spring meeting in April at Rhode Island College in Providence. Friday afternoon featured a physics of toys "make and take" workshop, demonstrating how teachers can construct their own materials for use in their physics classes. Running in parallel was an APS session on physics, industry and society, featuring lectures by Michael Lubell of the APS Washington Office on science policy for the new millennium, and Peter Mumola of Zygo Corporation on academic/industry relations. At Friday evening's banquet, John Stachel of Boston University gave the after-dinner address, entitled, "Einstein: A Man for the Millennium?" Saturday morning's plenary session focused on physics teaching. Wolfgang Christian (Davidson College) is a leader in the development of computer-based interactive material for classroom use. He described his development of "physlets," a series of JAVA applets designed to be used in many different browser contexts. Howard Goldick of the University of Hartford described how he has developed courses to teach physics to physical and occupational therapy students, drawing examples from the human body to illustrate such common physics concepts as vectors, conservation of energy, heat transfer, voltage and capacitance. The meeting also featured a lecture by George Gibson (University of Connecticut) on teaching the physics of music, as well as a special roundtable discussion on how to pique students' interest in science.