2012 Annual Report
Awards and Grants
Awards and Citations
Hans Christian Oersted Medal
2012 Awardee: Charles H. Holbrow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Making Physics Make Sense - Narratives, Content, Witz
Holbrow has been Visiting Professor of Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell
University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Visiting Physicist at Brookhaven National
Laboratory, Visiting Scientist at SRI International, Molecular Physics Laboratory, Guest Scientist
at SUNY Stony Brook, Department of Physics, Visiting Associate in Physics at California Institute
of Technology, Guest Scientist at Gesellschaft für Schwerionen Forschung in Darmstadt, Germany,
and Gast Professor at the University of Vienna, Austria. He has been an active participant in
physics education, serving as a member of the Steering Committee of “The Research Physicist in
Undergraduate Curriculum Development: A Joint Program of the AmericanAssociation of Physics
Teachers and the American Physical Society. He has also been a member of the APS Forum on
the History of Physics program committee, of the APS Committee on Education, of the Board of
Directors of the American Institute of Physics, of AIP’s Liaison and Advisory Committee on Public
Policy, and of the
advisory committee. He was also Co-chair of the 2012 Gordon
In 2009 AAPT presented Holbrow with the Distinguished Service Citation in recognition of his
many contributions to the Association.
Robert A. Millikan Award
2012 Awardee: Phil Sadler, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Separating Facts From Fad: How Our Choices Impact Students’ Performance and
Persistence in Physics”
Sadler has made substantial contributions to the teaching of physics over several decades. His
work on student conceptions led to the production of the award winning documentary series,
“A Private Universe” and “Minds Of Our Own,” with colleague Matthew Schneps, videos that
continue to influence classroom practice. This work has also furthered scholarly knowledge on
students’ understanding of physical science and astronomy. As F.W. Wright Senior Lecturer in
Astronomy, he teaches Harvard’s oldest undergraduate course in science, Celestial Navigation.
He directs one of the largest research groups in science education in the U.S., based at the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In 1999, Dr. Sadler won the Journal of Research
in Science Teaching Award for work on assessing student understanding in science. His research
interests include assessment of students’ scientific misconceptions and how they change as a result
of instruction, the development of computer technologies that allow youngsters to engage in
research, and models for enhancement of the skills of experienced teachers.
His invention, the Starlab Portable Planetarium, has enabled many schools to provide active
learning experiences for students who are studying astronomy. Before this device was available
only those school or colleges that were located near an existing planetarium could offer such
experiences, and then they were limited by the expense of travel to the facility. Materials and
curricula developed by Sadler are used by an estimated twelve million students every year.
Established in 1936, the Oersted Medal honors the Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851). This pretigious award is
presented annually to a person who has had outstanding, widespread, and lasting impact on the teaching of physics.
The Robert A. Millikan Medal, established in 1962, recognizes teachers who have made notable and creative contributions to the
teaching of physics. The honoree is asked to make a presentation at the Ceremonial Session of an AAPT Summer Meeting and
receives a monetary award, the Millikan Medal, an award certificate, and travel expenses to the meeting.