From the Editor

Larry Woolf

The goal of the Forum on Education (FEd) newsletter is to provide useful and thought- provoking articles over a wide range of physics education topics. To that end, this issue includes articles ranging from computer based tutorials for introductory physics students to errors propagated in physics textbooks, from information literacy to education outreach, as well as two very different perspectives on the graduate education of a physicist: a summary of a conference on graduate education and a personal reflection based on a varied life in industrial physics. Standard fare will also be recognized including an article from the chair, announcements, Forum on Education news, and articles on teacher preparation.

The FEd encourages submissions of articles or letters about physics education topics of concern to members, and there are a variety of pathways that are exemplified in this newsletter. Pat Viele expressed concern about information literacy in physics education to FEd members and was then invited to write an article. Similarly, an article by Chandralekha Singh is included because she informed us of her desire to share her tutorial efforts. Each of the other articles has their own story. As a major fan of Craig Bohren’s popular books as well as textbooks, all of which are truly unique, I asked that he write an article about his views on textbooks. After finding his letter to the editor in the March 2008 issue of Physics Today thought provoking, I requested that Martin Gutzwiller expand on his thoughts. FEd executive committee members suggested that I ask Janet Tate to review the results of the conference on graduate education. The final article is a reprinting of an inspirational memo by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) director, Elias A. Zerhouni, to all NIH grant recipients about education resources and roles scientists can play in revitalizing K-12 science education. This memo includes a discussion of a wonderful guide for scientists (Scientists in Science Education) who want to become involved in K-12 education outreach. This guide is a greatly expanded version of an article that appeared in the Fall 1998 FEd newsletter and is one of the most downloaded files from the newsletter archive. So if you have ideas for articles or letters, or would like to suggest others whose opinions, programs, or experiences would be appropriate for future newsletters, please contact one of the newsletter editors.

One of the main roles of the Forum on Education is to organize physics education related sessions at the March and April meetings. However, only those who attend the sessions learn about the results presented. To increase the diffusion of this information, I asked each FEd invited session organizer to write a summary of their session and to request that their presenters provide an electronic version of their presentation. I am grateful to all of the session organizers and presenters for spending the time and effort to provide these. (Not all presentations are represented either because of the desire of the presenter not to post their presentation, or because there was no electronic version used.) So if you could not attend a session or a meeting, you can now read about the session as well as view the slides presented in most of the presentations. Whether this new feature becomes a staple, expands, or contracts in future summer newsletters will depend on feedback from FEd members as well as the desire of future newsletter editors.

Larry Woolf ( is a materials/optical physicist and program manager at General Atomics and the vice-chair of the FEd. He has been active in many aspects of K-12 science education outreach and curriculum development for over 15 years. For more details, see: