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Beth Lindsey, Penn State Greater Allegheny
“I touch the future. I teach.” This quote, commonly attributed to Christa McAuliffe, has always resonated with me as an educator. A desire to improve physics education, to make a difference in students’ lives, and thereby to influence the future, is a large part of what drew me to the field of Physics Education Research. Many of you — physicists with a special interest in education — probably feel similarly. In many cases, our interest in improving the world (or at least in improving Physics Education) has led us to be advocates for some cause. We may start within our department or university as advocates for reform-based instruction, but many of our number move beyond this to be active at the local, state, or national level in advocating for improvements to science standards, for science teacher education, or for science funding.
In this edition of the FEd newsletter, I bring you three perspectives from physicists who have become advocates for physics in other ways: Scott Franklin (currently the Secretary/Treasurer of the FEd) describes his experience meeting with Staff Aides on Capitol Hill, Aline McNaull (a policy associate for the American Institute of Physics) describes more broadly how physicists can interact with Capitol Hill staffers, and Jim Borgardt describes some cultural differences between working in academia and working in government that he has encountered in his role as an AIP Science Fellow working in the Executive Branch. If their experiences inspire you to become more active in policy or advocacy yourself, the APS website includes links to tools and other resources to get you started on their policy web page. An article by Scott Bonham in the Fall issue of this newsletter mentioned another way that physicists can participate in policy or advocacy: by getting involved in the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards now that they have been finalized.
This newsletter marks the beginning of my three-year term as Editor-in-Chief. I’m interested in hearing ideas for articles or theme issues from you, the readers of the FEd newsletter. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me by sending me articles or suggestions that you think would be of interest to the APS FEd community.
Disclaimer–The articles and opinion pieces found in this issue of the APS Forum on Education Newsletter are not peer refereed and represent solely the views of the authors and not necessarily the views of the APS.