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2004 Area Committee Reports (Page 2)

Professional Concerns
Research in Physics Education
Science Education for the Public
Space Science and Astronomy
Women in Physics

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2004 Committee on Professional Concerns

The Committee on Professional Concerns (CPC) provides a forum in which to discuss the wide variety of non-classroom issues that physics teachers and physics education professionals encounter. At the 2004 Winter Meeting in Miami Beach, CPC sponsored a workshop "Physics & Civic Engagement." During the 2004 summer meeting in Sacramento, CPC hosted a crackerbarrel, "Professional Concerns of Instructional Resource Specialists." We also cosponsored two sessions "Initiatives in Introductory Teaching" and "Preparing Physics Majors for the Job Market" with the Committee on Physics in Undergraduate Education (CPUE). In addition, we cosponsored a session "Applications of Physics in Radiotherapy and Diagnostic Radiology" with the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. CPC continues to work with CPUE on revising the AAPT standards for four-year bachelor degree programs.

-Lynn Aldrich, Chair

Review Board Response
The Committee on Professional Concerns addresses topics that affect all AAPT members. Sometimes these topics cover local, state, or national issues, while others span the general role physics plays in society. CPC has collaborated with existing AAPT groups and other professional organizations to develop unique programs for our national meetings. The Committee is open to any concerns AAPT members may have, and is willing to work directly on issues or in conjunction with other relevant committees.

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2004 Committee on Research in Physics Education

The Physics Education Research Community continues to show an amazing level of vibrancy and activity. At AAPT meetings committee-sponsored sessions describe exciting new avenues of research with implications for curricular and instructional reform. Sessions are often filled to capacity, with conversations and committee meetings continuing well into the night.

The community’s growth has resulted in the need for more democratic representation in a decision-making body. Stamatis Vokos chaired the PER Election Organizing Committee that proposed the formation of the PER Leadership Organizing Council (PERLOC). Members of this council will be elected from within the PER community and will assume many of the duties beyond the scope of the RIPE committee. These include, but are not limited to, organizing the PER Conference, overseeing publication of PERC Proceedings, compiling periodic newsletters informing PER members of events and relevant news, and organizing internal committees. The AAPT Executive Board has endorsed the formation of PERLOC with elections to be conducted by the end of the 2006 AAPT Summer Meeting.

For the last several years the community has struggled with the question of publication venues. Edward Redish investigated the possibility of an electronic PER journal with an aim towards review articles. A mechanism for this already exists, in the joint AAPT, AAS, AIP, and the APS project, comPADRE. Robert Beichner is the editor and articles for the first volume are due by Nov. 1. The Proceedings of the Physics Education Research Conference published its third volume, the first to be published by the American Institute of Physics, containing 46 peer-reviewed papers. A record 52 papers were submitted to this summer’s fourth volume. Beichner initiated a discussion with Physical Review editors with the result that an electronic Physical Review will likely be published within the coming year. The importance of the Physical Review name associated with PER cannot be overstated.

The Physics Education Research Conference (PERC) held this summer in Sacramento dealt with the theme "Transfer of Learning." Organized by Sanjay Rebello with assistance from Michael Wittmann and Rachel Scherr to rave reviews, the conference drew 219 attendees. PERC continues to expand the community’s vision, with invited talks from Andrea diSessa and Daniel Schwartz, both from departments of Education. PERC’s experience with alternatives to traditional contributed talk sessions will be of use to AAPT as future meetings also experiment with different formats.

Also held over the summer was a Gordon Research Conference on Nonlinear Dynamics and Physics Education. The third in a series (Thermal and Statistical Physics, held in 2000 and Quantum Mechanics, held in 2002), the conference was organized by David Jackson and Harvey Leff. This conference brought together teachers of classical mechanics and nonlinear dynamics, forefront researchers in these areas, and physics education researchers. The goals were to identify ways to effectively teach courses in classical mechanics and nonlinear dynamics at the undergraduate level. The next conference in this series, to be held in the summer of 2006, is being organized by Kerry Browne and will focus on Physics Research and Education—Electricity and Magnetism.

-Scott Franklin, Chair

Review Board Response
The Research in Physics Education (RIPE) committee continues to play a crucial role in providing a primary interface of this exciting and expanding community with the AAPT. Impacts on our national programs are large. PERC conferences add greatly to the excitement and diversity of attendees at our national meetings, and RIPE has been instrumental in guiding AAPT involvement with the new publication venues noted in the report. As has been observed for over a year, the breadth of the PER enterprise is simply too large and diverse for RIPE to provide the necessary guidance within its traditional "town meeting" area committee format. The PERLOC elective procedure and format offer a logical approach to establish a stronger and more representative leadership group. While the RIPE committee (constituted according to AAPT nomination procedures) does not provide such a representative body, it still can be very effective in assisting PER endeavors within our own governance structure. As is clear from its report, AAPT’s RIPE committee has functioned in this way very effectively in the past year, and we both appreciate and applaud their efforts.

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2004 Committee on Science Education for the Public
The Committee on Science Education for the Public (CSEP) has broad interests that reflect the diversity of AAPT and its members. During our Sacramento meeting, five members and eight guests discussed the importance of maintaining our vitality. To strengthen our membership and expand our views, we invited the Physics and Society Education Group (PSEG), an informal association of AAPT members, to become an integrated part of CSEP. PSEG agreed to do so, and its expertise will help us address societal issues involving science as we continue our public outreach work.

Part of our mission statement requires CSEP to seek ways in which physics concepts and the importance of science instruction can be effectively conveyed to the public. At local and national AAPT meetings, CSEP members have presented workshops on topics such as "Teaching Physics with Music, Physics and Toys," and "Physics on the Road" (a primer on how to design and deliver an off-campus physics demonstration show). Members also lead outreach programs to non-science college students. For example, we held a workshop based on the problems associated with the exponential growth of the human population. We also supported several community outreach projects that involved local television media and links with K-12 schools. During 2004 and 2005 our outreach efforts will promote the World Year of Physics.

To keep AAPT members aware of the importance of communicating science to the public, CSEP has hosted cracker-barrel sessions, sponsored invited talks. CSEP has also contributed to the large-scale physics demonstration show that accompanies the AAPT picnic dinner.

-John White, Chair

Review Board Response
The Committee on Science Education for the Public enthusiastically welcomes all AAPT members to join them in their mission of making science, particularly physics, an accessible, fun, and meaningful component of their daily lives. CSEP is eager to show AAPT members how to prepare and present fascinating demonstrations that are educationally rich, safe, and simple to do. Committee member Tom Zepf recently published "The Haunted Physics Lab" (The Physics Teacher, October 2004, p. 404), an article that provides a step-by-step guide on how to design an on-campus physics show … perfect for Halloween or your department’s next open house.

Several committee members are prolific in mobile physics outreach programs and are available for those who wish to learn how to design and orchestrate such endeavors. CSEP has already taken (and will continue to play in 2005) an active role in science education outreach projects associated with AAPT’s 75th Anniversary, the Physics Talent Search, and the World Year of Physics.

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2004 Committee on Space Science and Astronomy
(Note: As of March 2004, The Committee on Astronomy Education has been renamed the Committee on Space Science and Astronomy.) 
At its annual strategic review at the 2004 summer meeting, the committee noted that space science and astronomy are quickly becoming a popular framework for teaching science in general and physics in particular. Opportunities for formal space science and astronomy offerings, especially at the high school level, have multiplied through the efforts of NASA and intensive efforts of the astronomy community. This means that an increasing number of AAPT members will be required to teach space science and astronomy courses, which often attract a different student demographic than the traditional introductory physics sequence. This committee has voted to conduct a survey of AAPT members who are teaching space science and astronomy courses. The results of this survey will guide our development of workshops and the organization of meeting sessions that will address these new students and courses.

The survey aims to give us a clear picture of the needs of those of our members who are teaching space science and astronomy. We want to know in what type of school they teach, how often they have to teach a space science or astronomy course, what is the demographic of their classes, what books or other content sources they use, what assessment materials they use. The survey is being conducted by former committee member and committee friend Gina Brissenden, University of Arizona, and committee friends Erin Dokter, University of Arizona, and Jordan Raddick, Johns Hopkins. Committee members Andrew Fraknoi, of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and Susana Deustua, of the American Astronomical Society, have also offered their help. We expect to have the first round of mail-outs before the 2005 Winter Meeting.

The committee is happy to note that interest in space science and astronomy and participation in this committee’s work has been steadily increasing over the last five years. Committee meetings, especially at the winter meetings, have attracted increasing numbers of participants, with more friends of the committee volunteering to help. The astronomy crackerbarrel sessions, have had attendance quadruple over that same period.

-Isidoros Doxas, Chair

Review Board Response
The Review Board commends the Committee on Space Science and Astronomy for voting to survey the membership to find and meet the needs of those AAPT members teaching space science and astronomy courses. They are quite correct in noting that space science and astronomy are an important venue for the teaching of physics. The committee meetings do attract an active and passionate group of members and friends.

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2004 Committee on Women in Physics

The AAPT Women in Physics Committee had an interesting year that began at the 2004 Winter Meeting with a “Women in Physics” day. All of the sessions were very well attended, with some presenters attending their first AAPT meeting. The calendar of events was sent to all members and friends of WIP.

At the Multicultural Luncheon, co-sponsored by WIP, special tables were reserved for women attendees to meet with women featured in the invited sessions. After lunch, a session featured three prominent women in physics: Judy Franz, Helen Quinn, and Myriam Sarachik. Plenary Session II featured Maya Tolstoy, a geophysicist, who talked about her research in dynamic ocean processes. Sherry Savrda led a crackerbarrel session—most of the comments were concerned with equal pay, equal status, and recognition.

WIP initiatives continued with SEES (Students to Experience Engineering and Science), co-sponsored by the AAPT Committee on Minorities. Florida International University College of Engineering and Vernier Software provided nearly 125 minority

Miamipublic school students and teachers with take-home materials and lunch. Wednesday also included a session on “Latin American Women in Physics” organized by the Society of Hispanic Physicists, and co-sponsored by WIP and Minorities.

At the WIP committee meeting, the 25th anniversary of WIP Committee along with the AAPT’s 75th anniversary were discussed. Like the AAPT anniversary celebration, the WIP celebration has been postponed until after the World Year of Physics. The committee also discussed the AGU diversity statement. Members wanted a clearer picture of what is proposed and what AAPT would be expected to do.

In Sacramento, WIP began by sponsoring a workshop on Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) by Kathleen Falconer and Daniel MacIsaac. Monday began with an invited session on the history of nuclear physics, and on Tuesday with a session on “Programs for Women in Engineering and Science.” The group affirmed its desire to honor AAPT outstanding women at a special event during the 75th anniversary celebration. WIP has had a very successful year and participation by many women in physics.

-Betty Preece, Chair

Review Board Response:
WIP has served in 2004 as an especially effective coordinating force for broadening the diversity of the AAPT within the venue of our national meetings. Attaining external support for the continuing SEES program(s) has continued to have a wonderful impact on the spirit of Winter Meetings in a manner that visibly follows from the long altruistic traditions of our organization while also directly serving students of the local host community. The Board appreciates your plans for recognizing the 25th anniversary of WIP, and we will try to assist with efforts to coordinate such plans within our own 75th anniversary schedule in 2005. Within the 25 years, the committee has never had more impact than at present.

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