September 2022: Larry Escalada
University of Northern Iowa (UNI), Cedar Falls, IA
- Member since 1991
- Professor of Physics & Science Education and Director of Science Education
- Cedar Falls, IA
I have been a member of AAPT for over 30 years. During this time, AAPT has helped me grow professionally as a high school physics teacher, a graduate student, and a university faculty member. My journey into physics and physics teaching began late in my education at Garden City Community College in Garden City, KS, where I had a phenomenal instructor - Warren Fouse. He shared his passion for physics with his students and made learning physics meaningful by making every effort to engage all his students actively. My path, however, did not directly lead to physics or physics teaching. I transferred to Kansas State University to pursue engineering as an undergraduate major but felt this was not a good fit for what I wanted to do. I changed my major to physics and physics teaching due to the profound impact that my community college physics instructor had on me. I was also fortunate to have Dean Zollman, a distinguished physics education researcher, as an advisor. He would later inspire me to get involved in physics education development and research.
I taught high school physics and physical science for four years in Topeka, KS. I maintained contact with Dean Zollman and others as I participated in various professional development experiences. I joined AAPT in 1991 when I was a high school teacher. AAPT not only helped open the door for me to the resources and opportunities available for high school physics teachers but also to a community that has been very supportive. I returned to Kansas State for graduate school to complete my Masters in Physics and Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction in Physics & Science Education. I worked with Dean Zollman and others on many physics education research and development projects. As a graduate student, AAPT provided a means for me to actively engage in physics education research that included facilitating workshops, giving presentations, and collaborating/networking with members of the community. I was exposed to numerous research-based instructional resources and strategies for teaching physics at various grade levels, including high school and university.
As a UNI faculty member, I teach undergraduate physics and physical science courses and secondary science methods courses for future science teachers. I collaborate with my colleagues to provide professional development and instructional resources for existing science teachers, including those seeking a high school physics teaching endorsement. I also work with my peers to facilitate outreach for high school students with a physics competition that involves mouse trap cars, toothpick bridges, catapults, etc. I love my position in that I can teach physics to various audiences, share my passion for physics, and help prepare and provide support for future and existing teachers to teach physics. I enjoy teaching physics in that students are actively engaged in investigating physical phenomena relevant to their real world and then explaining that phenomena with their own ideas and models that can be applied to other situations. AAPT continues to provide me with the means to be actively engaged in physics education research and development with the dissemination of my work, as well as being able to collaborate/network with members of the community. As a result, AAPT has contributed to my success and has helped me become a better teacher, researcher, and colleague. Thanks, AAPT!