AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers
President's Report on Seattle Meetingrheadric
January 19, 2007
By Harvey Leff

Dear Colleagues,

The Joint Winter 2007 AAPT/AAS Meeting in Seattle was a great event. AAPT folks had the opportunity to hear the latest research news in astronomy in AAS sessions, and the AAPT program was chock-full of interesting talks and posters. The overall quality level of the meeting made me feel ultra-proud to be a member of AAPT—and even more proud to be your 2007 AAPT President. Our new President-Elect, Lila Adair, is working hard to make the the Summer 2007 AAPT Meeting (July 28 - August 1, 2007) in Greensboro another intellectually stimulating and fun event. Mark your calendars!

The AAPT Executive Board met three times in Seattle, spending nearly 14 hours on AAPT business. One goal is to maintain the high quality of AAPT's successful endeavors, such as our two preeminent journals, the American Journal of Physics and The Physics Teacher. In addition we hope to enhance our services to the physics teaching community and to work toward expanding our domain of activity in the United States and abroad.

Our ambitious goals will require a sequence of small, well-placed steps. An important initial step is to increase the level of interaction between AAPT's national office and its 48 Section Representatives and 18 Area Committee Chairs. To accomplish this, a retreat for each group is being scheduled at the American Center for Physics. A main objective is to assess how these groups can become more directly involved in AAPT governance and the execution of AAPT initiatives.

Our new Executive Officer, Toufic Hakim, has been busy developing ways to make AAPT's national office function more efficiently and effectively. He is also generating ideas for actions that will propel AAPT forward. This is an exciting time at AAPT, a time filled with much opportunity and hope. I intend to work as hard as I can to help AAPT find and follow paths that will help us meet our worthy goals. I ask you to join in this effort by sharing your ideas, working as an AAPT volunteer in your local section, and/or volunteering to serve on an AAPT Area Committee.

Thanks and best wishes,
Harvey

Back to top.

Go to Presidents' Commentaries & Reports page.



Summary of Board and Council Actions Taken During the Seattle Meeting
January 19, 2007
By Mary Beth Monroe

Dear AAPT Members,

The following is a report of some of the actions and discussions taken by the Executive Board and Council during the 2007 Winter Meeting in Seattle. Minutes of the Board meetings will be posted on the AAPT.org homepage in April.

1. During the 2006 Fall elections the AAPT membership elected Alex Dickison (Seminole Community College) as Vice-President, Steve Iona (University of Denver) as Secretary, and Gordon Ramsey (Loyola University Chicago) as the At-Large Member representing four-year colleges and universities. Their terms began at the close of the Seattle meeting.

Two members of the Board are elected by the Section Representatives, not the general membership: the Chair and Vice Chair of Section Representatives. During the Seattle meeting the Section Reps elected Mary Mogge (Cal Poly) as Vice Chair. Her term began immediately at the close of the meeting and Al Gibson (Adams High School) rotated to the Chair position.

2. The 2008 Nominating Committee completed their nominations for the Fall 2007 elections:
For Vice-President
  •     David M. Cook (Lawrence Univ.)
  •     Steven Turley (Brigham Young Univ.)
For Treasurer
  •     Robert Teese (Rochester Inst. of Tech.)
  •     Paul W. Zitzewitz (Univ. of Michigan Dearborn)
For High School Representative
  •     Elizabeth B. Chesick (Baldwin School)
  •     Nina M. Morley Daye (Orange High School)

3. On the recommendation of the Publications Committee, the Executive Board reappointed Dave Keeports (Mills College) to a second term to The Physics Teacher

4.The Membership Department at the National Office reported that as of November 30, 2006, there are 10,152 AAPT members, including the 13% who are international members. High school teachers constitute 31% of AAPT membership but these only represent 14% of all those who teach pre-college physics in the United States. Similarly, 25% of two-year college teachers in the country are members of AAPT.

5. The Executive Board endorsed an impact goal for AAPT to embark on a comprehensive effort to graduate twice the number of physics bachelor’s degrees in the United States. The National Office was charged with developing a plan of action for implementation, complete with strategies and timelines, and with a detailed description of how the partnership with APS and other societies will operate. This doubling initiative will be included as a primary goal within the AAPT strategic framework currently under development by the Planning Action Group (PAG). The Area Committees on Undergraduate Physics, Two Year Colleges, Pre-College Physics, Women in Physics, and Minorities in Physics will be involved in the development of specific objectives and strategies addressing this impact goal.

6. Much discussion occurred within the Board concerning new efforts to more actively involve the 18 Area Committees in the development and implementation of AAPT initiatives and to enhance the synergy between the national AAPT and the 48 AAPT Sections. As Harvey Leff reported earlier in this issue of AAPT News,two retreats are being planned for early Summer, one for Area Committee Chairs and one for Section Representatives, to address these goals.

7. The Board heard a report from Charlie Holbrow, Chair of the Publications Study Committee, of the committee’s conclusions and recommendations regarding current and potential AAPT online publications. The committee also made recommendations concerning the job description and search for an AAPT online publication editor. The Executive Board accepted the committee report and voted to initiate the search for such an editor. Other members of the Study Committee were Bob Beichner, Roger Stuewer, Rob Headrick, and Toufic Hakim (exofficio).

In closing, I would like to say it has been a pleasure for me to serve as your AAPT Secretary for the past six years.The time went by quickly it seems. I value the opportunities I had to work more closely with many of you in many different ways as we endeavored to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching.

Thank you all,
Mary Beth Monroe

Back to top.


Planning Action Group (PAG) Update 3Toufic Hakim
January 19, 2007

by Toufic Hakim, AAPT Executive Officer

The Planning Action Group met in Seattle and discussed impact goals (for advancing education in physics in general) that will be proposed for AAPT to undertake. Those ambitious goals deal with (a) significantly enhancing the academic preparation, recruitment, and retention of undergraduates in physics and of future teachers of physics along demographics that reflect the larger society; (b) strengthening professional development of physics pre-college teachers and college faculty; and (c) leading development and reform efforts of undergraduate and graduate curricula for physics majors, of university-level physics service courses, and of physics teacher education. The Group meets again in March to identify specific strategies in support these goals. Following that, different membership groups will be invited to give input.

Also while in Seattle, PAG drafted the following statements of vision, values, and constituencies (two separate short and elaborate versions) and request your reactions. These statements are to represent our system of beliefs and commitments as an Association. PAG has drafted them as part of a strategic framework for the next phase of AAP
T that it is developing, which includes organizational AAPT goals and major impact goals in physics education. The goals will be shared with you for input in the upcoming months. We request that you review these statements and send your comments to future@aapt.org.

Our VISION—The Horizon

[SHORT VERSION]
AAPT aspires to be the leading voice and driving force in physics education,serving and advocating for professionals who teach physics at all levels and in all settings.

[ELABORATE VERSION]
Drawing on its rich heritage as an association of physicists seeking to advance physics through effective teaching, AAPT aspires to a more visible leadership role on behalf of those who teach physics and care about physics education at all levels, serving as their leading advocate, the leading voice in physics education, the leading forum and resource for physics teaching and learning, and the leading catalyst for innovation in physics education. More generally, AAPT aims to strengthen physics education, broaden its reach, and deepen its impact on society in general.

Our VALUES—The Guiding Principles

[SHORT VERSION]
Recognizing that an understanding of physics is critical to the well-being of society, AAPT is committed to serving its members and the larger community by promoting effectiveness in physics education for diverse audiences and in various settings, with the strong belief that successful physics teaching is based on solid physics content and effective pedagogy and that students of diverse backgrounds have the capacity to understand physics. AAPT highly values collaboration and dialogue among physics educators at all institutional levels and strives to facilitate such interactions.

[ELABORATE VERSION]
Throughout its long, continuing tradition in promoting excellence in the teaching of physics, AAPT has brought together members and supporters who are bound by a passion for physics and a commitment to teaching. This dual interest, in physics and in education, is the core characteristic of AAPT.

Dedicated to advancing physics through teaching, AAPT recognizes that the experience of learning, discovering, and promoting physics can be enriching to our minds and lives; that careers in physics can be professionally rewarding; and that physics itself plays a critical role in bettering our well-being as a society.

AAPT embraces the belief that solid knowledge of physics, coupled with attentiveness to student learning and good pedagogy, is the basis for effective education, which in turn leads to advancing physics learning and physics itself. With the perspective that effective teachers of physics are themselves engaged in the scientific process and in cultivating their own learning, AAPT strongly supports ongoing professional development for all who teach physics. AAPT further acknowledges that physics education at all levels can be enhanced by research findings in the learning and teaching of physics, and encourages the application of those findings.

AAPT affirms that pre-college teacher education is a critical factor in the advancement of physics and a scientifically literate citizenry. Therefore, AAPT vigorously promotes teacher preparation and professional development in physics and physical science.

The success of AAPT in meeting its goals and objectives depends on its members and the work of its volunteers. AAPT is committed to providing them with the highest-quality services, always fostering collegial and collaborative relations throughout its activities.

AAPT further acknowledges the importance of having among its members practicing educators and supporters of physics education at institutions of all types (including middle and high schools, two- and four-year colleges,research universities and laboratories, science museums, and funding and policy organizations) and strives to sustain collaboration and open dialogue among them.

AAPT’s work and interest are informed and influenced by how it interfaces with many other organizations and institutions. As such, AAPT remains committed to nurturing a sense of community and promoting meaningful interactions among all stakeholders in physics education. AAPT also recognizes the significance and value of strategic partnerships within the science and science education communities, and will develop and join such partnerships whenever appropriate.

AAPT believes that all students, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or economic background, have the need and capacity to appreciate and understand physics.

AAPT upholds high ideals of excellence and integrity in its policies, programs and practices; values the diversity of intellectual perspectives and fosters gender, racial and ethnic, and economic background inclusiveness among its members, volunteers, and professionals.

Our CONSTITUENCY—Whom we serve and represent today


Through its suite of programs and publications, AAPT provides at the present time direct services to those who practice the teaching of physics at high schools, two-year colleges, four-year colleges and universities. AAPT will pay increasing attention to several subgroups, including new physics faculty across all levels, pre- and in-service physics teachers, graduate teaching assistants, laboratory/demonstration professionals, chairs of physics departments, and the community of researchers in physics education.

While high school students may benefit directly from AAPT’s current programs (or via the above constituencies), AAPT serves certain groups only indirectly, among them pre-college and college students, and elementary and middle school teachers.

In collaboration or in parallel with its sister societies, and as deemed consistent with its mission, AAPT serves and interfaces with industry, government, and the public through outreach efforts and informal physics education.

Again, your comments and suggestions are welcome at future@aapt.org.

Lastly, planning retreats are also being considered at the American Center for Physics in the next few months for area chairs and AAPT section representatives. The objective of these retreats is to explore and adopt as deemed fit new governance models through which the members could be more effectively engaged in the AAPT impact agenda and which enhance AAPT’s agility and public leadership role.

Back to top.
 

A Request from the Nominations Committee
January 19, 2007

Dear AAPT Members,

The AAPT area committees listed below play a major role in guiding the
Association's activities. At the end of each year, about a third of the
members of these committees finish their terms. The AAPT Nominations
Committee is responsible for identifying new members and seeks your
help. We are writing to urge you to nominate AAPT members who in your
opinion have the necessary expertise and interest.

Many of our committee vacancies each year are filled by AAPT members
nominating themselves. If there are committees that are of special
interest to you, we urge you to submit a self-nomination.

Send your nominations to the chair of the Nominations Committee using
the online form under the About AAPT menu at:
http://www.aapt.org/aboutaapt/nominate.cfm.

If you prefer not to use the web form, you may instead send an email to
Wolfgang Christian, wochristian@davidson.edu, identifying the person you
are nominating, providing background on the individual, and stating why
you feel the nominee is particularly well suited for the position.

We very much appreciate your help with area committee nominations.

Wolfgang Christian (Chair), John FitzGibbons, Ken Krane, Laura
McCullough, and David Wright

AAPT Area Committees on:
Back to top.
AAPT Area Committee Chairs and Section Reps Planning Group to Meet April 12-13
February 16, 2007

A subset of Area Committee Chairs and Sections Reps will meet this spring to plan a full meeting of all Chairs and Reps to be held in advance of the summer meeting in Greensboro. This planning group will be informed by the work of the Planning Action Group (PAG), particularly the impact goals that have been identified. The individuals attending the April meeting are:
 
Area Committee Chairs and Past-Chairs
  • Ernie Behringer, Physics in Undergraduate Education
  • Karim Diff, Physics in the Two-Year College
  • Ingrid Novodvorsky, Teacher Preparation
  • Marie Plumb, Women in Physics
  • Greg Puskar, Laboratories
  • Rachel Scherr, Research in Physics Education
Section Representatives
  • Mario Belloni, North Carolina
  • Alan Gibson, Michigan, Chair of the Section Representatives
  • Steve Iona, Colorado-Wyoming
  • Todd Leif, Arkansas-Oklahoma-Kansas
  • Marina Milner-Bolotin, British Columbia
  • Mary Mogge, Southern California, Vice-chair of the Section Representatives
Back to top.

Advanced Laboratories Site Now Available; Suggestions Welcome
February 15, 2007

AAPT has launched an initial website dedicated to Advanced Labs. When fully implemented, it will provide a central, comprehensive information base for college/university faculty who teach upper-level undergraduate laboratories. The site currently includes an AJP Guest Editorial on "What happened to the Advanced Lab?", recent announcements, and links to additional material. Suggestions are being solicited on what materials and links should be included, and how to assure that published articles, experiments, equipment reviews, and the like are of high quality. Please share your ideas. Access the site at: http://www.aapt.org/advlabs

Back to top


National Task Force on the Preparation of K-12 Physics and Physical Science Teachers Announced
February 8, 2007

In October 2006, the AAPT Executive Board enthusiastically expressed support for establishment of a National Task Force on the Preparation of K-12 Physics and Physical Science Teachers as proposed by the committee on Teacher Preparation. The AAPT will take the lead in this effort. The Task Force will be charged with conducting a multi-year study that synthesizes data and research on the Preparation of K-12 Physics and Physical Science Teachers.

AAPT is committed to the selection of Task Force members who possess special expertise in one or more critical areas in the professional preparation of physics and physical science K-12 teachers. To assist in the identification of the broadest possible pool of candidates for membership in the Task Force, AAPT requests that you nominate a well-qualified individual (this could include yourself) for consideration as:
  1. Possible member of the Task Force, or
  2. An expert advisor to the Task Force, or both.
Nominations will be reviewed and the members of the Task Force will be selected by AAPT with input from APS and AIP. A nomination form can be downloaded here (PDF).

Back to top.
2006 Lotze Scholarship Winners Announced
February 2, 2007

Winners ($2,000 and an AAPT student membership)
  1. Alex Silverman, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia
  2. Logan Kimberly, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wisconsin
  3. Brianne Boland, Marquette University, Wisconsin
Honorable Mentions (an AAPT Student membership)
  1. Joseph Heidenreich, Purdue University, Indiana
  2. Matthew R. McPheeters, Missouri State University, Missouri
  3. Justin Riffle, University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri
More information about this scholarship is available here.

Back to top.


Obituary: Reuben Alley
March 19, 2007

Dr. Reuben E. Alley Jr., 88, President of AAPT in 1993-94 and a 1996 recipient of the Melba Newell Phillips Award died March 9 in a fire at his Annapolis home. His wife, Helene W. Alley, died the following day from injuries received in the fire. "Reuben Alley always had a deep commitment to physics teaching and especially to AAPT. He served many years as a leader among our sections and at the national level. He guided our finances, influenced our priorities, and led our organization. His death was a tragic end to a long and fruitful career," said Bernard Khoury, AAPT Executive Officer, Emeritus.

"Reuben Alley was a giant among AAPT leaders, having served eight years as the Chesapeake Section Representative—including four years as Chair of AAPT Section Representatives—four years in the AAPT presidential chain, six years as AAPT Treasurer, and finally, he was AAPT Historian. He will be sorely missed," said AAPT President Harvey Leff.

AAPT Past President and close friend, Howard Voss, added "I hold it as a treasure that Reuben Alley was a friend and principled compass through much of my professional life. The physics teaching community and I are deeply indebted to him for his many years of strong leadership at all levels, his constant willingness to serve wherever needed (He even served as a volunteer EO for a time!), and carefully considered advice. He will be missed but AAPT will always be better because of his efforts and character.

Dr. Alley was an emeritus electrical engineering professor at the U.S. Naval Academy.

A complete obituary is available here.

Online condolences can be made at www.johnmtaylorfuneralhome.com


Back to top.


Toufic HakimPlanning Action Group (PAG) Update 4
March 14, 2007
By Toufic Hakim

The Planning Action Group will have its fourth meeting on March 23-25 to discuss further the proposed impact goals and planning efforts by the National Office, the Area Chairs and Section Representatives (a pre-planning meeting for Chairs and Section Reps is set for middle of April, to plan the retreat schedule for May 23-25). The expectation is that a document will be circulated to the members to start gathering reactions and input.

Three external reviewers will also weigh in on the plan, evaluating our vision and goals within the national and international contexts of secondary and higher education, in general, and science and science education in particular.

The reviewers are Neal Abraham, Mary Herrmann and Don Langenberg.

Neal Abraham is Executive Vice President, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at DePauw University (formerly professor of physics at Bryn Mawr College and Swarthmore College; taught at seven universities in Europe and China). Neal is a leading researcher and a Fellow of OSA and AAAS among other societies. Among his many leadership roles, Dr. Abraham served as editor of Optics Communications, and associate editor of a number of major research journals, including Physical Review E; as former president of the Council on Undergraduate Research, and a founding member of Project Kaleidoscope, and as an inaugural member of the National Research Council's Committee on Undergraduate Science Education.

Mary Herrmann is Superintendent of Barrington Community Unit School District 220 in Barrington, Illinois. She has served as a Teacher, Counselor, Assistant Principal, and Principal in several schools in Wisconsin and Grosse Pointe, Michigan. More recently, Mary held the position of Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. Among her leadership roles, Dr. Herrmann serves as President of the Mid-American Association of School Superintendents and on a number of boards, including the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce. She is heavily involved in a number of executive leadership programs at Harvard University and Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Donald Langenberg is Chancellor Emeritus and Professor of Physics and of Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland. He served previously as Chancellor of the University of Illinois, Chicago, and as a physics faculty member and vice provost at the University of Pennsylvania. He helped advance science and physics in his previous roles as Deputy Director of NSF, President and Chair of AAAS, and President of APS. A major advocate for K-16 education, Dr. Langenberg is currently a PI on a major MPS grant project, has been involved in intro physics reform, is very active in public policy issues and is a leading designer of a new online graduate program for physics teachers. He has served on many boards of foundation, universities and national initiatives.

Back to top.