It is a pleasure for me to work with the APS Forum on Education (FEd) to help make our community more aware of the many education efforts being undertaken predominately by scientists and engineers who volunteer their time and effort out of a true concern for the future of our scientific enterprise. The course that science in America takes is deeply dependent on the intellectual and skill base of the technological workforce and the attitudes about science of voters and decision makers. The effectiveness of the global educational systems that build the capacity of the labor pool plays a critical role in our future. These interests drive several cross-cutting issues in professional or learned organizations: (1) efforts to continually develop the talents and skills of the membership (Professional Development and Certification), (2) efforts to increase the quality and quantity of educational experiences for students (Preschool through PhD) in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), (3) efforts to provide STEM outreach programs for the general public, (4) efforts to increase the diversity of the STEM workforce, and (5) efforts to positively influence public policy and increase support for STEM.
AIP is a federation of ten Member Societies (http://www.aip.org/aip/societies.html) representing a wide spectrum of the physical sciences. AIP supports their efforts with print and e-publishing services, as well as a range of membership services and physics-related resources. In these ways AIP is able to amplify its Member Societies' common activities and create a united front to achieve shared goals. AIP carries out the program services primarily through the AIP Physics Resources Center (PRC) with five divisions: the Center for the History of Physics, the Statistical Research Center, the Media and Government Relations Division, the Career Services Division, and the Education Division. (http://www.aip.org/resources.html)
The Education Division provides information and services for students, alumni, academic departments, and corporate research interests in the physics and allied science communities. It also acts as a catalyst for the efforts of the AIP Member Societies associated with education and human resources. The mission of the division is stated as follows:
Support the highest quality science education for all students.
To provide student services and support programs within the broad physics community that will identify, promote, and enhance high-quality, student-centered, and societal-relevant educational practices and initiatives that positively impact students and their learning of physics, astronomy, and allied sciences and technology.
AIP directly supports three “other member organizations:” the Society of Physics Students (SPS), Sigma Pi Sigma, the National Physics Honor Society, and the Corporate Associates program (http://www.aip.org/education). AIP staff members maintain close and productive relationships with several federal agencies and Congressional interests that support the STEM enterprise and with other national umbrella organizations with mutual interests.
The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a professional association explicitly designed for students and their mentors. Membership, through collegiate chapters, is open to anyone interested in physics. SPS offers awards programs, outreach opportunities, social activities, and extensive web services, encouraging a diverse population of students to study physics. SPS has over 700 chapters on campuses across the country. About 5,000 national members and thousands more local members take part in chapter activities each year (http://www.spsnational.org/). Within SPS is Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honor society, which inducts members on the basis of outstanding academic achievement. There are 450 chapters of Sigma Pi Sigma, with over 75,000 inductees throughout its history (http://www.sigmapisigma.org/). You may want to learn more about the Quadrennial Congress of Sigma Pi Sigma that will meet with the APS 4-Corners Section. (http://www.sigmapisigma.org/congress.htm)
The AIP Corporate Associates program serves the industrial physics community by improving the effectiveness of people and organizations in advancing corporate goals through the use of physics; and it facilitates interaction between the industrial, academic, and federal segments of the larger physics community. The Corporate Associates program sponsors the annual Industrial Physics Forums that examine relevant interests of industry, policy issues, and cutting-edge research. (http://www.aip.org/ca/2004/04mtg.htm).
Each AIP Member Society has one or more committees, councils, or fora that focus on education and human resources issues. Some organizations have professional staff dedicated to work on education and human resources issues. AIP works hard to support the projects and programs of its Member Societies including consultation and direct help in proposing and securing extramural funding and managing large projects. Examples of large scale efforts include PhysTEC (The Physics Teacher Education Coalition) lead by APS; ComPADRE (the Community of Physics and Astronomy Digital Resources in Education) lead by AAPT, the National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics (NTFUP) and its report entitled “SpinUP,” and the Joint Society Conference on Increasing Diversity in the Earth and Space Sciences (IDEaSS Conference) lead by AGU.
The AIP Liaison Committee on Physics Education meets annually to provide a forum to share information and examine mutual benefits of overlapping goals and learn from shared experiences (http://www.aip.org/handbook/educ_lia.htm). The committee is always pleased to hear about the wide variety of education and outreach efforts of APS including those of the FEd. Prepared for APS FEd members, the following set of articles provides information about and promotes awareness of efforts and successes in four AIP Member Societies other than the APS. These are examples of the many excellent projects, services, products, and programs that you might find by exploring the websites and publications of all ten AIP Member Societies.
I hope that you will learn about various programs from these articles, be encouraged to learn about other programs from professional organizations, and be encouraged to work with the APS FEd in collaborative efforts. Please contact me at the AIP Education Division (email@example.com) with comments or questions when you think that I can help.