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2010 Winter Meeting Highlights

When we remember this meeting we will remember great mounds of snow.  Just prior to the Joint AAPT/APS Winter Meeting in Washington, DC the mid-Atlantic area was covered with snow from two separate record-breaking storms leaving the city with more than four feet of snow to remove from airport runways, streets and sidewalks.  Thousands of residences and businesses were without power and Washington, DC was, literally, closed down for a week.  Thanks to the heroic efforts or an army of road and power crews the main roads were opened and power restored to most of the area just days before the meeting was scheduled to begin.

The AAPT’s Meetings team and worked closely with communications to provide the latest news on area conditions while working with vendors to circumvent problems created by the remains of the storm.  Most of the registered members braved the elements and arrived in time to participate in the meeting. David Sokoloff, Program Chair and the National Office Staff provided an outstanding learning opportunity. The sharing of sessions, plenaries, hotel, and exhibit space provided extraordinary opportunities to attendees from both organizations.

In spite of record snowfalls that closed airports, schools, and roads, more than 2,000 physicists and physics educators gathered at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel February 12 - 17 to share and learn from an outstanding and diverse program that included invited and contributed paper sessions, poster presentations, workshops, and plenary sessions.

The AAPT Winter Meeting for 2010, February 12 – 17, was a joint venture with our sister organization, APS. It was an exciting week with featured workshops, sessions, plenaries, and the Symposium on Physics Education.

Mayor Adrienne Fenty declared February 14-20 Physics Education Week in Washington, DC! AAPT and several attendees tweeted their experiences during the meeting, and three events were broadcast live on UStream.

The event started with workshops at the University of the District of Columbia.  Busses shuttled between the hotel and UDC bringing attendees to more than 30 workshops on topics selected by the AAPT Area Committees such as Behind the Scenes at the Smithsonian, Multimedia Modern Physics for High School Teachers, Tutorials in Introductory Physics, Using Easy Java Simulations for Physics Teaching, and Laboratories with Biomedical Applications.

Additionally, much of the business of AAPT took place at this meeting with Executive Board meeting several days to receive reports, consider recommendations, and provide direction to the association that will strengthen our community as we move to enhance physics education and inspire physics educators.  Many of the attendees were also about the business of AAPT serving in roles such as Area Committee members and Section Representatives.  They met to share information and plan new initiatives that will benefit the association and the larger physics community.

Poster Sessions continued to be very popular and were presented at two separate times with presenters available to answer questions for 1/2 hour during each Session.  The Monday posters addressed Labs and Apparatus, , Teacher Training, and Lecture/Classroom.  Tuesday posters focused on Physics Education Research, Technologies, Astronomy and Energy, and Environment Courses.

Popular Paper sessions included “International Issues in Physics Education,” Bridging the Gap in Physical Science-Teaming H.S. Teachers and K-8 Teachers,” Teaching with Technology,” “PER: Topical Understanding and Attitudes,” “Unconventional Laboratories,” “The Things Accomplished Teachers Do in Their Classrooms-Who Prepares Them?,” ”Exploring the Nation’s Attic,” “How To Advocate for Science Locally, Regionally, and Nationally,” and “Physics Education Research Around the World.”

The Symposium on Physics Education, Educating Physics Teachers:  A Call to Action for Physics Departments, presided over by Phillip (Bo) Hammer, was dedicated to the memory of Dr. E. Leonard (Len) Jossem. The session presenters discussed Teacher Preparation through UTeach, Science Teaching as a Profession, and Transforming the Professional Preparation of Physics Teachers in the United States: Findings and Recommendations of the T-TEP Report.

AAPT’s awards program was showcased in the presentation of two awards, the Melba Newell Phillips Medal was presented to Mary Beth Todd Monroe and the J. D. Jackson Excellence in Graduate Education Award  to Eugene Commins.  Distinguished Service Citations were presented to Beverly T. Cannon, Karen Williams, and Patrick Whippey.  The Society of Physics Students Presented the Outstanding Chapter Advisor Award to Diane Jacobs of Eastern Michigan University.

Mary Beth Monoe’s Melba Phillips Medal address, The Faces of AAPT, reflected on the contributions that Phillips and previous recipients of the Medal have made to AAPT.  She honored all of those who have mentored her though her career noting that “AAPT's greatest resource is its members. Among our 10,000 members, only 1000 attend national meetings and a few hundred more only attend section meetings and/or publish in AAPT journals. Yet, all of us need to exchange ideas and know about one another's work. Therefore it behooves you and me to reach out to a colleague, a new faculty member, or even a student and persuade them to ‘interact with colleagues to engender collegiality.’ The AAPT will be stronger, the faculty member will be a better teacher, the student will be a more-informed student, and the physics education community will be richer. She closed with a reminder that the Melba Newel Phillips Medal is really a tribute to the many physics educators who have consolidated their skills and talents as physicists and as teachers “to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching.”
 “Some Personal Reflections on Physics Graduate Education” was the title of Eugene D. Commins’ talk as he received the J.D. Jackson Excellence in Graduate Education.  Re reflected on his life as a graduate student and then as an instructor in the Columbia University Physics Department, and as a mentor of Berkeley physics graduate students.

The Joint APS/AAPT Plenary on Monday, February 15, featured Norman R. Augustine, Retired Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation speaking on A Space Program Worthy of a Great Nation; Naomi Makins of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, speaking on Nucleon Spin Puzzle; and Judith Lean from the Naval Research laboratory who spoke on Surface Temperature Responses to Natural and Anthropologenic Influences: Past, Present, and Future.

The Kavli Foundation Joint Plenary included talks directed toward Re-Energizing America’s Focus on STEM Education, with Linda Slakery, Acting Executive officer of the Education and Human Resources Directorate, NSG, speaking on Catalyzing Widespread Implementation of Good Teaching Practices; Shirley Malcom for AAAS on the Value of Diversity in STEM, and Robert Moses of the Algebra Project on The Algebra Project’s Strategy to Accelerate the nation’s Bottom Quartile Students’ Math Education and Get Them Ready for College Math.

The LaserFest Lecture, given by Nobel Prize winner, Theodore Hänsch, Director of the Max-Plank-Institute Fur Quantenoptik and Professor, Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München Germany, was “From Edible Lasers and the Search for Earth-Like Planets: Five Decades of Laser Spectroscopy.”

The final plenary session of the 2010 Winter Meeting was the presidential transfer session with outgoing President, Alexander K. Dickison, handing over the responsibilities of AAPT leadership to David M. Cook.  President Dickison noted the great progress the organization has made and that he was leaving office with most of his goals reached.
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