Forum on Education of the American Physical Society
Exciting FEd Sessions Planned for the APS March Meeting in New Orleans
Ernest Malamud, Chair, FEd Program Committee
The FEd Program Committee of Olivia Castellini, Peter J. Collings, David G. Haase, Paula Heron, Ken Krane, Andrew Post-Zwicker, and Larry Woolf, has been hard at work planning an exciting series of FEd Session and other events at the March and April APS meetings.
At the March 10-14 Meeting in New Orleans (Monday through Friday) the FEd will sponsor four sessions you won’t want to miss. Mark your calendars!
Ken Krane has organized a focus session, Tuesday March 11, from 11:15 to 2:15: “How to develop an Education Component for an NSF Proposal.” Randy Ruchti, returning to Notre Dame after a rotator position at NSF, will lead off with an invited talk followed by “CAREER” NSF awardees who will give contributed talks about the education component of their projects.
On Tuesday, March 11 from 11:15 to 2:15 will be the first of two sessions (J7) “Undergraduate Nanotechnology and Materials Physics Education” organized by Peter Collings and Larry Woolf. Invited speakers include Robert Chang (Northwestern University), Greta Zenner (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Jeffrey Collett (Lawrence University), Fiona Goodchild (University of California, Santa Barbara), and Pradeep Haldar (University of Albany).
The second of these sessions (Q7) will follow on Wednesday at the same time. Speakers include Emily Allen (San Jose State University), Gregory Salamo (University of Arkansas), Chris Hughes (James Madison University), Michael Dubson (University of Colorado, Boulder), and Janet Tate (Oregon State University).
The confluence of three recent trends has opened up opportunities for innovation in undergraduate materials-related physics education. First is the increasing amount of interdisciplinary materials science and technology at the interface of physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, nanotechnology, and engineering that is relevant to the undergraduate physics curriculum. Second, much has been learned about how students learn, and this knowledge has affected both physics instructional materials and methods. Third, many new educational approaches have begun at the undergraduate level, covering new instructional materials, teaching styles, courses, and ways of organizing departments and colleges. These trends are occurring in small and large institutions, in different departments, across departments, and in interdisciplinary research centers.
These sessions explore recent advances in undergraduate education in the areas of nanotechnology and materials physics. Topics covered include new curricular developments at the introductory, intermediate and advanced undergraduate level, incorporation of nanotechnology and materials physics research into undergraduate programs, and teaching and learning issues associated with nanotechnology and materials physics programs. Speakers represent a wide range of disciplines, several types of institutions, and very different programs.
For Thursday morning (March 13), from 8 to 11, Olivia Castellini, Senior Exhibit Developer at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry has put together a session (U7) “Physics Demonstrations and Strategies for Teaching and Public Outreach.” Wendy Crone, Professor of Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will begin the session with a talk “Bringing Nano to the Public.” Until recently Crone was the Director of Education for the Interdisciplinary Education Group (IEG) of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). The IEG develops educational materials on nanotechnology and advanced materials for formal classrooms (middle school through undergraduate) and for public outreach. The IEG collaborates with researchers, industry, museums, and teachers to produce cutting-edge curriculum tools, demonstrations, exhibits, teacher training programs, student internships and web dissemination of nanoscale science and technology. Over the past 3 years, Wendy has been a contributing partner in the Nanoscale Informal Science Education (NISE) Network, a museum partnership to develop exhibits, visualizations and public forums for public audiences.
The other four invited speakers are educators in the greater New Orleans area. Murty Akundi is Chair of the Physics and Engineering Department at Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically black college located in New Orleans. His talk is “Preparing students for successful undergraduate science careers.” XUL is extensively involved in outreach and has two key summer programs aimed at improving student performance in college level physical science courses. The first program is for incoming college freshman; the students complete a short course that reviews basic science and prepares them for the challenges and critical thinking skills of their college coursework. The second program is aimed at high school teachers and focuses on giving teacher strategies to better prepare their students for science courses on the collegiate level.
Stephen Collins teaches physics and astronomy at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, an independent preparatory school for girls in New Orleans founded in 1887. He will present a talk “Fundamentals of Science Teaching.” Following him, John Thacker from the nearby LIGO observatory where there is an outstanding outreach program, will present “Gravity – The Engine of the Universe.” Robert McGuire is a senior member of the education department staff at SciPort Discovery Center, a hands-on science museum located on the riverfront in Shreveport and will present “Sparks Fly With Physics.”
A major focus of the FEd is to improve the teaching of physics on all levels by connecting researchers and educators. Leading educators from both formal and informal science education communities will present effective techniques for presenting science to both classrooms and public audiences. By having such a diverse group of speakers, the FEd offers March Meeting attendees valuable insight into innovative ways of teaching physics that the scientific research community can utilize in their own teaching and outreach. James McGuire, Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Tulane University, will chair this session.
There are also a set of interesting contributed papers on “Physics Education, In and Out of the Classroom” to be presented Wednesday, March 12 from 11:15 to 2:15 and Poster Papers on Education topics in Poster Session K1.