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Michael Fauerbach, Florida Gulf Coast University
Fall is usually the time for elections and this year is no different. Soon you will be asked not only to participate in local and national elections, but also cast your vote on the APS governance changes and elect new members to the Forum on Education (FEd) Executive Committee. Tim Stelzer and the nominating committee have been hard at work fielding a strong and diverse slate of candidates. A strong voter turnout is crucial for meaningful elections, so I would like to ask you to take time out of your busy schedule, read through the candidate profiles and statements and actively participate in the Forum elections. When you read through the candidate profiles, questions that I often get asked might come to mind: ‘What exactly does the Forum on Education do? Why should I be (more) engaged in it?’ Well, as usual, there is a short and much longer version of the answer to this. The short version: ‘The FEd represents all aspects of education in the American Physical Society. The forum organizes invited sessions at the March and April national meetings, distributes a newsletter 3 times a year, bestows Awards and selects Fellows’. The longer version of the answer is usually much more personal. To me, education is central to all our endeavors as professional physicists. It might be easy to agree with this statement for those of us engaged in different aspects of K-20 education. However, I strongly feel that my statement is also true for physicists not directly involved in K-20 education, like those working in industry or at national labs. After all, maybe more than other professions we are lifelong learners and are able to adapt to the ever changing work environments. We are all mentors to colleagues and/or students, we ‘educate’ our bosses about the progress our work has made, our products only sell, if we ‘educate’ clients about the advantages of these products over those of a competitor, we ‘educate’ funding agencies on the benefits of our work over those of competing groups. For those of us who have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc., we serve as role models for them, nurture their interest in the world. and showcase the importance of a good education. I could go on, but I hope I showed how education is weaved into our daily lives, whether we recognize it consciously or not.
Now, back to the original question of ‘What does the FEd do?’ Are we really covering all these aspects? Well, we are trying to, but of course, there is always room for improvement. I encourage you to look over the invited sessions the FEd hosted in the past and will host in the future. Collaborations with other units and forums, as well as the AAPT, help us cover a wide range of topics. Randy Knight and the programming committee have worked diligently to not only have a wide variety of topics at the 2015 meetings, but also to invite the best speakers. Still with limited budgets and limited sessions in each meeting judgment calls have to be made. ‘Why should I be (more) engaged in the FEd?,’ because we cannot do it without you!! The forum is only as strong as the members who actively participate in it. If you are reading this, you obviously are reading the newsletter. Our newsletter editor Beth Lindsey is doing a great job, and she always looks for topics that people are interested in. If you liked/disliked an article give feedback. When a call for nominations or suggestions for future sessions goes out, participate in it. If you attend the national meetings, make it a point to visit one -or hopefully more- of our sessions. If you plan to be at the 2015 April meeting, stop by at our business meeting, or come to the reception where we honor or Award winners and new Fellows. Contact me or other members of the Executive Committee with questions, comments, suggestions. And finally tell your colleagues/students about the FEd and why they should be engaged in it.