Press release

New APS Survey: Public Engagement Enhances Physics Careers

May 23, 2023

Barriers Remain, Especially for Underrepresented Groups

Many APS members engage with the public and overwhelmingly report a good experience, stating that public engagement positively impacts their teaching, professional development, and research, according to results of the Society’s recent Public Engagement Survey.

Public engagement activities can include conducting scientific demonstrations, lecturing, and sponsoring activities that help the public appreciate basic concepts of science. According to the APS survey results, nearly seven out of 10 members reported facilitating or leading a public engagement activity, and similarly, physicists stated that it’s important for them to engage with the public.

Respondents noted, however, some barriers to engagement: members of underrepresented groups, for example, are more likely to need additional financial resources to carry out their public engagement activities.

“The survey results strongly support our mission of promoting the excitement of physics and communicating the essential role that physics plays in the modern world,” said CEO Jonathan Bagger. “We also understand that barriers are keeping some of our members from participating in public engagement, and therefore, APS remains committed to ensuring that opportunity is available to all physicists.”

The survey results offer suggestions for how APS can support members in their public engagement efforts, including increasing recognition awards and raising the visibility of invited talks about public engagement at APS meetings.

APS has a long history of public engagement, including equipping physicists with skills to address misinformation about science; connecting physicists to classrooms across the country through its Physicists To-Go program; and introducing students to basic concepts of physics through fun activities associated with its PhysicsQuest K-12 lesson plans program.

Jessica Hoehn, director of public engagement and education research for the JILA Physics Frontier Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said her involvement in public engagement has had a profound impact on her life.

“Finding a community of physicists at APS who value and prioritize public engagement has been so refreshing and meaningful,” she said. “I am excited to continue working with other physicists and public engagement practitioners and researchers to further elevate the role of public engagement in physics.”

Learn more about the survey results and how to get involved in public engagement activities.


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