From the Chair
The Forum on Education (FEd) continues to do well: informative newsletters, interesting presentations at both APS spring meetings, and a steady growth in membership.
The FEd has developed a strong presence at both APS spring meetings. In this issue Peter Collings previews the many interesting sessions the FEd program committee is putting together for theMarch 16-20 (2009) APS meeting in Pittsburgh and the"April" APS meeting in Denver, May 2-5, 2009. Many thanks to Peter and his committee.
FEd Executive Committee Elections
You will shortly receive your ballot for our annual FEd elections. The open positions are:
Vice-Chair (4 year term, April 2009 - March 2013)
Member-at-Large of the Executive Committee (3 year term, April 2009-March 2012)
APS/AAPT Member-at-Large of the Executive Committee - Must be member of both FEd and AAPT (3 year term, April 2009 - March 2012)
Please take a few minutes and vote! Thanks to this year's nominating committee for an excellent slate of candidates. The nominating committee will then construct the ballot of candidates.
FEd Nominating Committee
Larry Woolf (General Atomics), Chair
Mario Belloni (Davidson College)
Peggy McMahan (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
Rob Steiner (American Museum Natural History, New York)
Michael Thoennessen (Michigan State University)
The Editor of this issue is Professor Thomas (Tom) Rossing, retired from Northern Illinois University, and currently a visiting professor of music at Stanford University. Tom has said this would be his last newsletter. Tom has been a FEd newsletter editor since the Forum was begun, nearly 15 years ago. Besides his major contribution to the Forum of putting together these timely and interesting newsletters (all archived and indexed on our FEd web page), Tom has regularly written the column "Browsing the Journals" which is widely read and appreciated. The newsletters are our most important function in terms of reaching our large and extended membership. We owe Tom a tremendous debt and many thanks for producing and contributing to these many newsletters.
Middle School Science
Why should the American Physical Society be concerned with middle school science? In order for there to be physicists in the future and a scientifically literate public, there must be young people informed about and motivated to learn physics. This process begins before high school. It is very easy for a high school student to graduate without being introduced to a high school physics course. Because middle school science is interdisciplinary, the APS should be concerned that the physical science topics (in the broadest sense) are taught well and integrated into a science program that increases student interest in science. Additionally the science program should be integrated with a mathematics program that prepares students for further study in science. Middle school age students learn about science and science careers not only in the classroom but also in science museums, in after-school activities, (science clubs, 4-H, Scouting, Boys and Girls Clubs, summer camps) numerous science outreach programs including APS outreach and in the media. Many of these programs target females and students from groups underrepresented in STEM disciplines.
An outstanding APS education outreach program aimed at middle schools is PhysicsQuest. I am exploring the implementation with APS staff of a suggestion made by Judy Franz at our FEd Executive Committee meeting at the St. Louis meeting that the 4,600 member Forum on Education could be a resource to help with PhysicsQuest. Can FEd and APS staff working together foster connections between the local middle school teachers who have APS PhysicsQuest kits and local APS-FEd members? We have begun by selecting a few of these "coincidences" (using zip codes for middle schools with kits and FEd members) as a "pilot" project.
The goal is to increase the number of APS members helping as volunteers to improve middle school science teaching. We realize that there are hurdles to surmount in fostering productive relationships. Using phone calls, emails and written guidelines we will try and work our way through these challenges.
In my last message I made a pitch to you to become involved in FEd activities. Newsletters would benefit from more discussion and controversy. There are divergent views on many topics. Write a Letter to the Editor!
Mini-grants of up to $500 are available and the turnaround is fast. Examples of past mini-grants are providing a prize for an essay competition among high school students at a Section meeting or partial support for a community physics day for high school students and teachers with a guest speaker.
As in any volunteer organization we welcome new blood to participate in FEd activities. Right now a particular need is for newsletter editors. If you think this is something you would enjoy doing, let me know.
Ernest Malamud, retired from Fermilab, is currently a member of the Adjunct Faculty at the University of Nevada in Reno. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This letter is not peer refereed and represents solely the views of the author and not necessarily the views of APS