AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Winter Meeting Announcements and Highlights

College Park, Maryland, United States, January 18, 2008

For more information, please contact:

Jason Bardi, American Institute of Physics (AIP)
301-209-3091 (office), 858-775-4080 (cell)
jbardi@aip.org

Robert Merz, American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)
301-209-3307 (office), 410-371-7020 (cell)
media@aapt.org

Jan. 18, 2008--The 2008 American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Winter Meeting begins tomorrow and lasts from January 19-23, at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. Scientists, students, and all levels of physics educators from across the United States and Canada will convene to present some 400 talks and posters related to the theme of this year's meeting: "Enriching the Health of Physics Education." These talks are among the most accessible and diverse of any scientific meeting.

Martin O'Malley, Governor of the state of Maryland, has proclaimed next week, January 20-26, 2008, as Physics Education Week in Maryland. The text of Governor O'Malley's proclamation is at: http://aapt.org/aboutaapt/2008_Physics_Education_Week.cfm

Journalists are invited to cover the meeting onsite or by directly contacting the presenters listed below. Some meeting highlights:

SPACE TELESCOPES: THE ONCE AND FUTURE KINGS OF THE SKY
Now in its 17th year, the Hubble Space Telescope continues to provide breathtaking images and deep insights into the nature of our universe. For instance, it has unveiled the smallest galaxies yet discovered; the detailed structure of planetary nebulae; and very thin rings around the planet Uranus.

Carol A. Christian (410-338-4764, carolc@stsci.edu) of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) will talk about the debut of Sky in Google Earth last fall, bringing Hubble's images to a new community of online users who can now explore the furthest reaches of the universe as easily as they can download a satellite image of their neighborhood. (Christian's talk: EE01, "Hubble Now and Again: Recent Results and Future Efforts," will take place from 9:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, January 23, in room Dover C of the Marriott Waterfront Hotel).

Jonathan P. Gardner, Chief of the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (Jonathan.P.Gardner@nasa.gov), will talk about Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2013. Dubbed “the first light machine,” the Webb Telescope will use infrared light to detect the star clusters that formed from the very first stars born in the cosmos. It will also explore how galaxies and black holes form and evolve, and investigate various planetary systems for their potential to foster life. (Gardner's talk: EE02, "The James Webb Space Telescope: Ahead to the Past" will take place from 9:45 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, January 23, in room Dover C of the Marriott Waterfront Hotel).

CLOSING THE GENDER GAP
Studies indicate that girls show interest in math and science in elementary school, but generally lose confidence by the time they hit middle school. After high school, women earn a smaller percentage of bachelor's degrees in science than their male counterparts.

Jennifer Blue (513-529-1380, bluejm@muohio.edu) of Miami University has surveyed 2000 girls in grades 4 through 8 in southwest Ohio. In these surveys, respondents were asked to rate science, math, and other school subjects. Blue will report on some of her more surprising results at the AAPT meeting on Monday morning. (Blue's talk: AD02, "When Do Girls Lose Interest in Math and Science?" will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 21, in rooms Laurel C/D of the Marriott Waterfront Hotel).

Jacob Blickenstaff (601-266-4742, jacob.blickenstaff@usm.edu) of the University of Southern Mississippi will describe his examination of how male and female students interact in a laboratory setting, both in mixed and single-sex environments. His findings revealed some interesting patterns, and different strategies used by men and women. (Blickenstaff's talk AD03, "A Qualitative Examination of Mixed and Single-Sex Cooperative Groups" will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Monday, January 21, in rooms Laurel C/D of the Marriott Waterfront Hotel).

SCIENCE BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN
Scientific progress relies upon the free exchange of ideas among colleagues, regardless of national boundaries or political affiliation. Mikhail Agrest (843-953-1359, AgrestM@cofc.edu) of the Physics and Astronomy Department of the College of Charleston will discuss evidence of how USSR scientists maintained professional relationships with their U.S. colleagues during the height of the Cold War. Specifically, he has found photographs and other documentation of a meeting between renowned American particle physicist Thomas Stix with noncomformist Russian scientists, who risked their personal security to communicate with their U.S. colleagues. (Agrest, who is the president of the Southern Atlantic Coast Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers, received a College of Charleston Faculty Development Grant to support his presentation, AE02, "Politically Nonconformist Scientists Met Behind the Iron Curtain" will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 21, in rooms Essex B/C of the Marriott Waterfront Hotel).

PUTTING PHYSICS IN A CULTURAL CONTEXT
Physics education has come a long way in implementing effective teaching strategies, but many students still lack motivation, and fail to appreciate how central physics is to everyday life. Tetyana Antimirova (416-979-5000 x7416, antimiro@ryerson.ca) of Ryerson University believes that visual arts--photography, paintings, film, even cartoons--can become powerful tools for bringing excitement and relevance to physics instruction, even though they seem at first to be unrelated to the subject. She will present a series of visual art samples (both amateur and profession) that can be tied to various physical phenomena we encounter in everyday life. (Antimirova's talk CA01, "Teaching Physics with Art and Photography" will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 9:10 a.m. on Tuesday, January 22, in rooms Laurel C/D of the Marriott Waterfront Hotel).

AWARDING EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
Mildred Dresselhaus, chair of the American Institute of Physics' Governing Board and Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will add another honor to her 24 honorary doctorates from universities: the American Association of Physics Teachers' most prestigious award. The award, called the Oersted medal, is given "in recognition of her outstanding, widespread and lasting impact on the teaching of physics."

Dresselhaus will receive the award and present a lecture at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, January 22, in Grand Ballroom VI of the Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Her lecture is titled “Expanding the Audience for Physics Education,” which is fitting, since she has been particularly active in helping women break into the once male-dominated field of physics. Dresselhaus, a professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering has directed her formal teaching effort to the preparation of engineering students in the use of fundamental condensed matter and materials physics in their professional careers. She became the first woman to chair the board of the AIP in 2003.

SPECIAL SCREENING OF PBS/NOVA PROGRAM
One highlight of the conference will be a special screening of the PBS program "Absolute Zero," which is part of the award-winning science series NOVA and airs this month on public television stations. AAPT and AIP were both national partners for the production of Absolute Zero, which will be screened for AAPT Winter Meeting attendees at 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. on January 23 in the Laurel room of the Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Watch a preview here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/preview/i_3501.html. Read complete program details and see the broadcast dates here: http://www.absolutezerocampaign.org/press_room/press_releases.htm

ABOUT THE MEETING
The 2008 AAPT Winter Meeting takes place January 19-23 at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. This year's theme is "Enriching the Health of Physics Education." Full meeting program, workshop and job fair information, and directions to the hotel are at: http://www.aapt.org/events/wm2008/

News releases describing this year's plenary lectures, which feature several nationally renowned speakers, and the Second Annual Symposium on Physics Education are posted online at: http://aapt.org/aboutaapt/PressReleases.cfm

MEDIA CREDENTIALS
Members of the press can request information and are invited to cover the upcoming meeting onsite. Credentials can be obtained by sending an email to media@aapt.org or by contacting Robert Merz at 410-371-7020.

ABOUT AAPT
AAPT is the leading organization for physics educators--with more than 11,500 members worldwide. Its mission is to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching. AAPT was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland.

ABOUT AIP
The American Institute of Physics (AIP) is a not-for-profit organization chartered in 1931 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its application to human welfare. It is the mission of the Institute to serve physics, astronomy, and related fields of science and technology by serving its ten Member Societies and their associates, individual scientists, educators, R&D leaders, and the general public with programs, services and publications.

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