Physics to Go: the outreach Compadre collection

Ed Lee

Physics to Go, the Compadre collection for informal physics learning, is a general-interest physics digital library that debuted in 2004. Visitors can search and browse more than 920 cataloged websites on introductory physics and related fields. These sites include articles about physics research, simulations to help people understand physics principles, “hands-on” activities for learners of various ages, and more. These sites are chosen to be reputable and accurate; most are produced by a university physics or engineering department, a national lab, or a physicist.

Homepages. Each Physics to Go homepage contains two images. For example, below is part of Issue 34, Death ray/solar power. 


The homepage feature Physics in Your World offers images from more-or-less everyday life, as in the example above, and From Physics Research offers images from physics, astrophysics, astronomy, and engineering. On a given homepage, both images illustrate the same or related phenomena. The other two homepage features are Physics at Home, typically featuring hands-on activities or computer simulations on the same topic as the two images, and Worth a Look, which offers additional links to sites on the same topic or a related one. New homepages appear every month or so and stay up for about two weeks; during the other half of the month, archived issues shuffle on and off the homepage, staying up for four days at a time.

Archive. The 100+ old homepages are archived for easy browsing and searching Physics. and art is an important theme of the Physics to Go collection and is featured in more than 10% of the archived homepages. For some examples, see Issue 65, Mirrored room, and Issue 83, X-rays in art & science. Teachers can send students to relevant sites in the collection to work with a simulation or read an article, such as those in Issue 72, Crash test/ion drive, or Issue 114, Free fall. Students could also do research for homework or special projects.

In summary, Physics to Go is an outreach website with a dual identity– it’s both a collection of physics sites for informal learning and a monthly illustrated physics mini-magazine.

Ed Lee retired from the American Physical Society in 2010, after 12 years of work in education and outreach. His prior work includes 12 years of teaching, five years of museum education, and work on several curriculum development projects.

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.