Greetings from Ted Hodapp, APS Director of Education and Outreach
Earlier this year, Fred Stein announced his retirement as Director of Education and Outreach Programs at the APS. I was happily concluding a 2-year stint at the National Science Foundation as a Program Officer in the Division of Undergraduate Education and looking forward to returning to the classroom and my lab at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. Upon hearing about and then contemplating this job, it seemed at first a bit daunting given the number of extensive projects already in motion. It also seemed like it would be an interesting challenge, so, with a few conversations back in Minnesota to put my academic position on hold for a few more years, I decided to jump in.
The biggest effort by far is to continue the NSF and Department of Education funded PhysTEC project (www.phystec.org) started several years ago by a cooperative effort between the APS, AIP, and AAPT. Further expansion of this project is now continuing through funds raised by the APS. The project is up and running at 8 institutions across the country and we are learning a great deal about the challenges of bridging the gap between physics departments and schools of education. The active learning methods being implemented at these institutions are producing appropriately modeled instruction for future teachers of all grade levels as well as introducing education research-tested techniques to help excite and engage students of introductory physics. We will continue to build upon the successes already in place and we are actively working to provide convincing evidence of the effectiveness of this model. The challenge ahead is to build, through combined efforts of the three sponsoring organizations, a national coalition to help share and build upon best practices and innovative ideas that effectively prepare future teachers. You will be hearing more about this coalition in coming months.
Beyond PhysTEC, I will be working on and with a number of projects in education at all levels including the National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics, the task force on graduate education, minority scholarships, and others. One of my goals will be to continue to build bridges between the APS and the AAPT to make best use of the talents and strengths of both our societies.
I look forward to continuing to work with the Forum on Education and welcome your input and ideas as the American Physical Society moves forward with its education programs.