APS News

Education Corner

Physics Teacher Video

APS and the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation recently produced a short video profile of Mary Lee McJimsey, a physics teacher who graduated in 2006 from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, which received substantial funding under the APS-led PhysTEC project to improve its teacher preparation program. The video seeks to showcase a young, dynamic physics teacher who will inspire future undergraduates and high school students to pursue a career in teaching. In the video, McJimsey explains why she loves teaching physics, and describes the impact that PhysTEC and her Knowles Fellowship had on her preparation to be a teacher. PhysTEC is a partnership between APS, the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), and the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

The video can be viewed on the PhysTEC website and also on YouTube.

Education special events at the April Meeting

Future Physicists Day
All undergraduates attending the April Meeting are invited to participate in Future Physicists Days. Events will include undergraduate poster and oral sessions, a “Careers for Physicists” lunch session, and an awards session recognizing the outstanding oral and poster presentations of undergraduates. Registration for the meeting is free for undergraduates. For more information, please see the April Meeting page on the APS website or contact Cathy Mader.

Nuclear Forensics Workshop at Teachers’ Day
The 2009 April Meeting Teachers’ Day will feature a new workshop on nuclear forensics, inspired by the 2008 APS/AAAS Nuclear Forensics: Role, State of the Art, Program Needs report. The workshop is part of an effort APS is leading to develop the first-ever nuclear forensics curriculum for high school students. The development team, which includes APS and AAAS staff members, high school science teachers, nuclear scientists, and experts in nuclear forensics, plans to produce about 10 hours of classroom activities. At the workshop, participants will utilize gamma ray spectra to identify hypothetical unknown radioactive materials that have been interdicted at a border crossing.

For information and schedules for both the March and April Teachers’ Days. APS members are welcome to visit.

Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement Program

The next round of proposals to the NSF’s Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) are due May 21st. The CCLI program has, for several decades and under a number of program names, been one of the most significant funding sources for the improvement of undergraduate science and math education. Innovations in physics education, the development of many of the most significant pedagogies in use today, and renovation of a large number of classrooms and laboratories have received funding from this program. According to the NSF, the program “funds projects that develop faculty expertise, implement educational innovations, assess learning and evaluate innovations, prepare K-12 teachers, or conduct research on STEM teaching and learning.”
For more information, go to NSF Website and search on “ccli.” 

New Faculty Workshops

Department chairs are invited to nominate recently hired faculty to attend the next APS, AAPT, and American Astronomical Society (AAS) New Faculty Workshop, which will be held from June 25—28, 2009 at the American Center for Physics (ACP) in College Park, Maryland. “Recently hired” means faculty in the first few years of their initial tenure-track appointment. The ideal nominee would be one who has been teaching for a year or two and who is beginning to realize that good teaching may be a more difficult enterprise than he or she originally thought.

The nomination deadline is April 1, 2009.  For more information, see New Faculty Workshops.

Education Research Report in Science

In the January 2, 2009 issue of Science, editor-in-chief Bruce Alberts wrote that the journal “now plan[s] to build on this strong beginning [Science’s three-year-old Education Forum] by recruiting high-quality articles on education from the world’s best experts for every section of the magazine.” Accordingly, the magazine included one of its first education research reports, entitled “Why Peer Discussion Improves Student Performance on In-Class Concept Questions.” The article, authored by a team of researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder that includes Physics Nobel Prize laureate Carl Wieman, describes a study the team performed to determine whether peer discussion had a lasting impact on the conceptual understanding of students in an introductory science class.

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Alan Chodos