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Peter J. Collings
As you can see from contributions to this newsletter, Forum on Education (FEd) members have been busy organizing sessions at the February (April) and March meetings of the American Physical Society. The February meeting is a joint meeting with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), so FEd members have been collaborating with AAPT members in organizing sessions. In some sense, this joint meeting is an experiment. If it works out well for both APS and AAPT, it may become an annual joint meeting, although that cannot happen for a while as both organizations have meetings planned for a few years to come.
In an effort to increase the participation of members in FEd activities, annual events that are organized with cooperation from AAPT were examined in hopes of making them as productive and successful as possible. To that end, a joint meeting of the FEd Executive Committee and the AAPT Executive Board was held during the AAPT Summer Meeting in Ann Arbor, MI. At this meeting, the plenary sessions annually organized by the FEd and one other APS unit at AAPT Summer Meetings were praised by everyone for the quality of the presentations and the high degree of interest in the topics. There was unanimous agreement that these sessions should continue to be organized as they have been in the past, with the FEd being the prime mover in the planning.
The second topic concerned the FEd sessions at the April APS meeting that are supposed to be organized jointly with AAPT. Although this arrangement has been on the books for a while (put there when the joint APS/AAPT Winter meeting ceased), the involvement of AAPT has been largely through the participation of FEd/AAPT members on the FEd Program Committee. The discussion in Ann Arbor therefore centered on how the AAPT Program Committee might play a larger role. Some general ideas were outlined, and after the meeting the AAPT Executive Board discussed it further, putting its ideas on paper. Soon the FEd Executive Committee will discuss these ideas and propose a way to plan for these sessions that is agreeable to both the FEd and AAPT. The hope is to have this planning agreement in force soon enough to affect planning for the 2011 April meeting.
Peter Collings is the Morris L. Clothier Professor of Physics in the Swarthmore College Department of Physics and Astronomy. His research specialties are liquid crystals, light scattering, self-assembly of biologically important molecules, and supramolecular chemistry. He is Chair of the Forum on Education and the APS Committee on Education.