August 2019: Wendy Adams

Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado

Wendy Adams

  • Member since 1995
  • Research Associate Professor
  • Golden, Colorado

About Wendy

I first became an AAPT member in 1995 while in graduate school, at the University of Colorado, after winning a free membership. My department had kindly nominated me for a graduate teacher award. I had previously attended a few AAPT meetings as an undergrad, but really had no special connection to AAPT nor did I understand how AAPT could support my teaching efforts. But a free membership did the trick and my AAPT identity began to take shape. As an adjunct faculty for seven years I maintained my membership and enjoyed my copies of The Physics Teacher, the calendar and annual poster!

When I returned to graduate school, I learned about a completely different aspect of AAPT. Now I had research that I could share and found the feedback at poster sessions and talks to be critical for my research. My work would have been so much less without the feedback I received from the community. The meetings also provided a very efficient venue for taking in what others were working on. By the end of each summer meeting, my brain was completely full! At this time I was also a member of the PhET team and we learned that we could be an exhibitor even though we didn’t have anything to sell – only FREE PhET sims.

Seven years after I became a physics education researcher I was hired on as the education coordinator for the Acoustical Society of America. This immediately showed me an entire new facet of AAPT I had been completely naïve to after fourteen years of membership. I met the PTRAs – Physics Teacher Resource Agents – and learned about giving workshops. I was also now a tenure track faculty member with teacher preparation responsibilities. Turns out AAPT has a body of members who know about teacher preparation and recruiting physics majors. I also discovered committees! High School, Pre-High School, Teacher Prep, RIPE. I met folks like Gay Stewart and Duane Merrell, and learned about PhysTEC. In fact, nearly every year I learn about new programs that AAPT has that have helped me grow and make my job easier.

Here we are another eight years down the road. Now I have the good fortune of working with yet another great group of AAPT folks plus several like-minded individuals outside of physics to develop the Get the Facts Out recruitment campaign for physics, chemistry and math teachers. I wonder what I will discover about AAPT next?