November 2021: Maajida Murdock
Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
- Member since 2020
- Physics Lecturer
- Baltimore, MD
My journey into physics started with my first love - Astronomy. My love of looking through the telescope as a young girl and wanting to travel to space led me to write a letter to NASA. How can I be an astronaut? From the response letter, I decided to pursue physical sciences. My parents encouraged me and brought science kits for me to “play with.” By the time I was in high school, I had inspiring physical science and physics teachers. During my undergraduate years at Morgan State, I had great professors that inspired and encouraged me to take summer internships. After spending summers doing physics at Fermilab, NASA/ Goddard, and IBM, I was hooked, and I knew this was what I wanted to do.
My journey into teaching physics was from my first physics teaching assignment during my graduate studies. My job was to tutor a group of underrepresented engineering students in physics. Because of the success of the number of students passing the physics class, this experience opened the door to create opportunities for me to teach. With a small investment, I opened an education center that offered tutoring and enrichment programs in math and physical science. Besides running my business and homeschooling my children, I taught physics and math classes at the local colleges /universities. Fast forward to today, I am a math instructor at Randallstown High, a physics lecturer a Morgan State University, and a STEM Advocator. My favorite thing about teaching is the student getting the ‘ah ha’ moment. For me, I did my job!
My journey to AAPT came to me through a challenge. A colleague knew of the work that I did on and off-campus. She asked me how I know what I am doing is working. Can I reproduce the successful results? Can I explain to others the how’s and the whys of my practices? Simmering over her questions, I enrolled in a science education program to gain more knowledge. This was when I began to understand the instructional practices I had incorporated, such as backward design, interactive demonstrations, cultural relevance pedagogy, and social justice. Looking for the environment to grow professionally, I joined AAPT to network with members to learn and share. I have presented papers and met some great people working to help teachers teach physics better, such as members of PTRA I love.
My contribution to physics education comes in different forms. I am a member of Baltimore County Public School’s team of physics curriculum writers. From my first love with science, I am honored to be a Solar System Ambassador with NASA/JPL and share the science of space. This past summer, with an agreement with Enoch Pratt Library at Forrest Park, I created physics kits for kids to do simple physics experiments to teach physics concepts. Also, during this summer, Dr. Willie Rockward and I created a successful pilot program using Quantum Literacy with a small group of students. Bring opportunities to engage youth or teachers in physics/ science concepts is something I enjoy doing. Therefore, being a member of Quantum for All.org, the Micro-Nano Education team, and a member of the Committee on Education – American Physical Society allows me to make a difference.