By Ernie Tretkoff
Ted Hodapp has joined APS as Director of Education and Outreach, replacing Fred Stein, who retired in early September.
Hodapp, who begins his position on September 27, says that he's motivated by a passion to improve education opportunities and physics education for all students. A physics researcher and teacher for many years, Hodapp loves the "human element" of education. "I really love physics. It's just cool. Being able to help other people see that has been a great joy to me," said Hodapp.
Hodapp received his PhD in quantum optics and atomic physics from the University of Minnesota in 1988, and then joined the faculty of the physics department at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. There he introduced several reforms, including a redesigned physics curriculum that included a junior- senior seminar and an undergraduate research experience.
He served as chair of the department, and chair of the Science Division, and helped develop division and college strategic plans. He also substantially modified many courses to promote more hands-on learning, supervised many undergraduate research students, and presented numerous public physics demonstrations as a member of Hamline's "Piper Physics Patrol."
Hodapp also carried out research in optics and laser cooling, and spent several years as a visiting scientist, first at NIST and then at the 3M Corporation, where he designed devices for display technologies, developed optical systems, and conducted research on laser ablation of materials. Several patents resulted from that work.
In addition, Hodapp worked on research in physics pedagogy, including looking at the effectiveness of video analysis, computerized data-acquisition, and data analysis tools in a physics curriculum.
While in Minnesota, Hodapp spearheaded efforts to rewrite the standards for licensure of science teachers in the state. Hodapp has also been on the Executive Board of the Council on Undergraduate Research, a member of the APS Committee on Education, and a long-term member of the American Association of Physics Teachers.
Before coming to APS, Hodapp served for two years as Program Director for the Division of Undergraduate Education of the National Science Foundation (NSF). One of his major accomplishments was organizing a national meeting, "Invention and Impact," funded by the NSF's Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement Program, on innovations in undergraduate education.
Hodapp is pleased to come to APS because he sees it as a "unique opportunity to further the goals of education." He pointed out especially the need to get more minorities involved in science. "There's a vast untapped potential that could be contributing to the workforce," he said. One key to tapping that potential is education, said Hodapp.
As Director of Education and Outreach, Hodapp will oversee all APS education programs. In particular, Hodapp plans to devote a considerable amount of his time at APS to the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) program. At the PhysTEC participating institutions, physics and education departments work together to introduce changes that improve education for future teachers. PhysTEC focuses on encouraging a student-centered, inquiry-based approach to learning.
Hodapp's predecessor, Fred Stein, started the PhysTEC program in 2001. Hodapp said he believes PhysTEC has been very successful, and he plans to continue it and try to expand its reach, and will welcome new ideas as appropriate. Hodapp said he would also work to "continue to build bridges between APS and other societies, such as AAPT and AIP, in order to capitalize on resources, ensure good communication, and mobilize people.
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