Thomas D. Rossing
As we advance in years, most of us spend
more time thinking about the past and less time thinking about the
past. That even happens to physicists. Although the future of physics
has never presented a greater spectrum of interesting challenge, the
writing of mature age practitioners of the art tend to reflect on the "golden
age" of physics past. Our papers in journals are heavily loaded with
references to past work by our colleagues, perhaps a commendable feature.
With that brief apology, I look back
at the ten-year history of the APS Forum on Education, which was founded
10 years ago. Drasko Jovanovic, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory,
was elected the first chair, and the Executive Committee of the Forum
on Education held its first meeting on October 25, 1992. The goals
of FED were given as:
channels for all interested physicists, including those not directly
involved in teaching, such as those working in industrial and government
labs, to become involved with physics education
attention on the importance of good and universally available education
to the health of the physics research enterprise and the quality
and quantity of future researchers
two-way communication between the physics research community and
the physics education community
cooperatively with other organizations for a sustained national effort
in science education.
These goals have not changed appreciably
over the past ten years.
The first FEd newsletter, prepared by
Ken Lyons and dated February 1993, advertised for an editor. The second
issue in October 1993, edited by Gerry Wheeler, noted that 15 applicants
had answered the ad. The Forum decided on a troika composed of Stan
Jones, Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, and Thomas Rossing, each editor to take
the lead on one of the three issues of the year. In 1997, Sam Bowen
succeeded Diandra as editor, and in 2000 Ernest Malamud took over Sam's
position. Stan and Tom continue their editorial duties. Webmaster Ken
Lyon began putting the Newsletter online, beginning with the Spring
1994 issue Since Spring 2001, the newsletter have been placed online
only, thus saving printing and mailing costs. Jim Wynne, website administrator,
now posts the newsletter both in html and PDF formats.
The editors often ask the questions:
Are most of our members reading the Newsletter? Do they like what they
read? Could it be improved? We don't get much feedback, but the lack
of complaints probably means that it is satisfactory to most readers.
Probably the most important function of the FEd is to arrange sessions
on physics education at AS meetings. However, a relatively small fraction
of our membership get to attend these sessions, and so the Newsletter
is the main source of information about physics education and the APS
role in improving education. We maintain close ties to the APS Committee
on Education and to the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT).
(For example, the authors in this issue include the President, the
Vice-president, and a former president of AAPT, all of them active
in ASA as well).
Some issues of the Newsletter have focussed
on a particular theme, for example Outreach and Informal Education
(Fall 1996), ABET (Summer 1998), Reform in Physics Education (Spring
1998), and Teaching on the Web (Fall, 2001). The articles and letters
have treated a wide range of topics of interest to teachers and others
interested in physics education. We welcome ideas for themes, and we
would also welcome an offer to guest edit a special issue on a theme.
The Fall 1996 issue carried an index
of authors for the years 1993-96. In researching this article, however,
I discovered that no index had been prepared since that time. In keeping
with the anniversary theme, I have prepared an index for all 10 years
of the Newsletter. The list of authors reads almost like a Who's Who
of physics education. One of our authors, a former chair of FEd (Rush
Holt), is now in the Congress. I suppose there are neat ways to do
indexes with a computer, but I'm not too familiar with them, so I have
done it by hand. That probably means that I have missed an author or
two and misspelled others, and for that I apologize.