APS News

August/September 2019 (Volume 28, Number 8)

Matthew Blackman Named 2019 PhysTEC Teacher of the Year

By Leah Poffenberger

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) addresses a shortage of qualified physics teachers in the United States. Each year, the coalition selects a graduate from a physics teacher preparedness program as Teacher of the Year to recognize outstanding physics educators. This year’s recipient of the national PhysTEC Teacher of the Year Award is Matthew Blackman, a physics and robotics teacher at Ridge High School in New Jersey.

PhysTEC is a joint project of APS and the American Association of Physics Teachers that aims to transform physics departments and support successful models for physics teacher education programs. The Teacher of the Year award, which has one national winner and several local winners, is open to alumni from the 330 PhysTEC institutions to highlight the impact and value of physics teacher preparation programs.

Blackman completed the Five-Year Physics Education Program at Rutgers, a PhysTEC institution, in 2009, earning a joint master’s in education and a teaching certification. Since then, Blackman has inspired both high school physics students and other teachers through innovative educational ideas.

At Ridge High School, Blackman has been instrumental in a dramatic increase in Advanced Placement (AP) Physics enrollment and improved AP test scores. Much of the increase in student enrollment came from Blackman’s efforts to improve participation among female students. Since he began teaching, female student enrollment is now over 50%—up from just 20%.

Blackman has also been working to inspire interest in physics outside of his own classroom: He taught himself to code and has designed five free-to-play educational physics games. Teachers in classrooms across the country and around the world—in nearly 60 countries—have used Blackman’s games to help students explore physics concepts like kinematics, waves, and electrostatics.

At Rutgers, Blackman teaches courses in the graduate education program and also runs a summer workshop for physics teachers, bringing in 20 teachers per year to learn new ways to interest students in physics.

Matthew Blackman photo

Matthew Blackman

As PhysTEC Teacher of the Year, Blackman will receive a certificate of recognition, funding to attend two professional physics conferences focused on education and teacher preparedness, and a grant for classroom materials of $1,000.

The local PhysTEC Teachers of the Year will receive a certificate of recognition as well as an official acknowledgment to their school administrators and local press. These winners are:

  • Aaron Curry, Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School, Salisbury University
  • David Doty, Cattaraugus-Little Valley High School, Buffalo State College
  • Julia Grimes, Westlake High School, Brigham Young University
  • Chad Hobby, Timber Creek High School, University of Central Florida
  • Kristin Kellar, Talkington School for Young Women Leaders, Abilene Christian University
  • Donald Soper, David H. Hickman High School, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Heather Stirewalt, Whittier High School, California State University at Long Beach
  • Jamie Vargas, Edison High School, California State University, Fresno

To learn more about PhysTEC and its member institutions, visit phystec.org.

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik

August/September 2019 (Volume 28, Number 8)

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Articles in this Issue
2020 APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research Awarded to Myriam P. Sarachik
Physical Review Research Publishes its First Papers
APS Membership Unit Profile: The Division of Soft Matter
APS Innovation Fund: Inaugural Winners Selected
Seven Apker Award Finalists Show Off their Research Skills
Matthew Blackman Named 2019 PhysTEC Teacher of the Year
John Robert Schrieffer 1931-2019
Education and Diversity News
This Month in Physics History
Outreach and Public Engagement
Office of Government Affairs
FYI: Science Policy News from AIP
Letters to the Editor
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