The Physics Teaching Resource Agents Fund Supports Physics Teacher Professional Development

Your support of this program will ensure that high quality professional development will persist for high school physics and physical science teachers across the US. All gifts to this fund will be used to train PTRAs to provide professional development to their peers. Make your gift online.

The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) initiated the Physics Teaching Resource Agents (PTRA) Program in 1985—with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) —with the mission of improving the teaching and learning of physics and physical science for all teachers and students in the United States. AAPT/PTRA has been nationally recognized as one of the premier professional development (PD) programs in the country.  PTRA offers support for teachers K-16 in the content area of physics and physical science as well as research based pedagogy. In addition to traditional content areas, through partnerships with the Perimeter Institute and the Institute for Quantum Computing, PTRAs are also qualified to provide unique PD in non-traditional areas such as black holes, quantum concepts, and relativity.

PTRAs are required to participate in annual PD institutes in order to maintain high quality PD for their peers.  All AAPT members can apply to be a PTRA with the understanding that they will use resources obtained from the leadership institutes to support and enhance understanding for their peers. PTRAs are encouraged to develop partnerships with university and college physics or education departments, as well as local AAPT sections,  to provide support for local PD activities.

Potential national PTRAs are selected based on physics content mastery, creativity, successful teaching experience, familiarity with physics education research, and the capacity for professional leadership. 

APS award 2011b_sm

Front L-R: Karen Jo Matsler, Larry Badar, Jan Mader
Back L-R: George Amann, Jim Nelson, Robert Clark

The PTRA program was awarded the 2011 APS Excellence in Physics Education Award. The award recognizes and honors a team or group of individuals (such as a collaboration), or exceptionally a single individual, who have exhibited a sustained commitment to excellence in physics education.

Because it matters, our program goals are ambitious:

  • To provide all physics teachers the opportunity to continue growing professionally and become not just competent, but creative and effective in their teaching.
  • To identify outstanding leader-teachers, tap them as PTRAs, and engage them in the annual Summer National Leadership Institutes.
  • To develop print and electronic resources and modules designed to serve not only as workshop resources but also as long-term references for practicing teachers.
  • To be recognized as a leading provider of accessible, high-quality in-service programs in physics and physical science for pre-college teachers at all levels and for all academic backgrounds.