AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers


March 2007

From the Editors
Published March 15, 2007; Updated March 21, 8:43 a.m. EDT

This issue includes an enhanced Action Items section (note the many approaching deadlines). Also, a new President's Commentary is now available and there is more News for Members then every before. Lastly, there are 20 physics and education stories from around the web that we think you will enjoy.

If you have a news item or feedback for the AAPT NEWS: Please write and tell us.


Action Items and Notable Dates

News for Members

President's Commentary
What Is AAPT? By Harvey S. Leff

AAPT Area Committee Chairs and Section Reps Planning Group to Meet April 13
A subset of Area Committee Chairs and Sections Reps will meet next month to plan concurrent retreats for all Area Committee Chairs and Section Reps that will be held May 23-25. Details are available here.

U.S. FY 2007 Appropriations Cycle Completed
Within the next few weeks, details will be released by departments and agencies on how  they will allocate their FY 2007 appropriations among various programs. Of note: National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science, NASA, U.S. Geological Survey, and National Institute of Standards and Technology.More details are available at: http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/024.html
AAPT encourages all members to visit our Legislative Action Center and write their Senator and Representative a note of thanks.

Senate Letter Supports FY 2008 NSF Funding Request
A letter in support of the $6.43 billion request for the National Science Foundation is now in circulation on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress are far more likely to sign a letter if contacted by their constituents. AAPT encourages all members to write their Senator and Representative to voice their support. Visit the AAPT  Legislative Action Center to do so. More details on the Senate Letter can be found here: http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/029.html

National Task Force on the Preparation of K-12 Physics and Physical Science Teachers Announced
Details and a nomination form are available here. The deadline is March 31.

Reminder: A Request from the Nominations Committee
Read their open letter to the membership here.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching
These awards are the United States' highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science. The Awards recognize highly qualified K-12 teachers for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. All PTRA should consider applying for this award. For more information and the online nomination form (deadline: May 1) visit: http://www.paemst.org/page.cfm?pageID=3

NCES Releases Two NAEP High School Studies
The National Center for Education Statistics has released two major reports on the academic performance of America's 12th-graders—The Nation's Report Card: 12th-Grade Reading and Mathematics 2005 and America's High School Graduates: Results from the 2005 NAEP High School Transcript Study. To read the highlights from the study, visit this site. And for more info go to http://nces.ed.gov.

Publish Your News Here
Have a news item you'd like to share with the AAPT membership in the April issue? Send it to us by April 5—be sure to include a brief overview and a URL (website address) where readers can go to for more information: aapt-news@aapt.org
News from the National Office

Interactions: March/April Issue Preview
The forthcoming issue, mailing in early April, will feature themes and topics related to undergraduate physics, including a conversation with an award-wining physics professor on teaching introductory physics and an article on rethinking classroom design to support student-centered, active learning. Read more about Interactions and the transition of the Announcer here.

2007 AAPT High School Photo Contest
The early-bird deadline is today, March 15, and the final deadline is May 15. For more details and an entry form, visit the contest homepage.

Audio from AAPT/AAS Joint Meeting Plenaries and Award Sessions
Links to audio files and podcasts (iTunes) are available here.

AAPT Physics Test Preparation Collection on CD-ROM

AAPT has produced the AAPT Physics Test Preparation Collection to help teachers prepare their students to take the screening exam for the Physics Team and the Physics Bowl contests. Students can review past exams and work through actual physics-competition-style problems. For more information about these new CDs, please visit the website.

Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold: AAPT Is a National Partner
AAPT is supporting this upcoming PBS television special and teaching guide.
Visit the campaign site for more details.

Upcoming Conferences, Meetings, Symposiums, and Events 

AAPT Topical Conference: Computational Physics for Upper Level Courses
This conference takes place at Davidson College, NC, July 27-28, 2007 (immediately preceding the AAPT Summer Meeting in Greensboro, NC). The purpose of this conference is to identify problems where computation helps students understand key physics concepts. Participants are university and college faculty interested in integrating computation at their institutions. More details are available here.

AAPT National Meetings: Save the Dates
  • Summer 2007, July 28-Aug 1 (Greensboro, NC)
  • Winter 2008, Jan 19-23 (Baltimore, MD)
  • Summer 2008, July 19-23 (Edmonton, Alberta)
  • Winter 2009 w/AAAS, Feb 12-16 (Chicago, IL)
  • Summer 2009, Dates TBD (Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Winter 2010 w/APS, Feb 11-18 (Washington, DC)
  • Summer 2010 w/ASEE,  June 20-23 (Louisville, KY)
Absolute Zero: The Cold, Hard Facts About the Coolest Stuff in Physics
Nobel Laureate Bill Phillips will host a web seminar from his laboratory at NIST on Thursday, March 22, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. EDT. Phillips, a leading researcher in the physics of ultra-low temperature atomic gases, will explain how and why he and his colleagues made the coldest gases ever seen, provide engaging ideas on how to make the physics of the ultra-cold appealing to middle and high school students, and suggest low-temperature demonstrations. Thisseminar is aimed at educators of grades 5–12. For more information and to register, visit http://institute.nsta.org/AbsoluteZero/zero.asp.

Six Flags America Roller Coaster Design Contest

AAPT and Six Flags America's Annual Roller Coaster Design Contest will take place at the 2007 Physics Day to be held at Six Flags America on Friday, April 27, 2007. To find out how you and your school can enter this exciting contest visit the website.

Team America Rocketry Challenge

The Challenge takes place May 19, 2007 in The Plains, VA. AAPT is the Education Partner. For more details, visit the Team America site.

The ATE Program for Physics Faculty Project Offers Workshops
Two workshops for two-year college and high school faculty have been announced: Adaptable Curriculums for Introductory Physics, April 12-14, at Florence-Darlington Technical College in Florence, SC; and Data Visualization Techniques and Strategies, June 28-30, at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA. Applications forms, workshop descriptions, and other information are available at: http://www.physicsworkshops.org

Activity-Based Physics Faculty Institutes
Are you interested in increasing your students' understanding of the physical world? Two-year college, four-year college, and university faculty are invited to attend one of the NSF-sponsored Activity Based Physics Faculty Institutes to be held at the University of Oregon in June 2007 and at Dickinson College in June 2008. For more information and an application, please visit the website.

International Workshop on Historic Scientific Instrument Collections
The University of Mississippi will host the second Scientific Instrument Collections in the University, or SICU2, workshop June 21-24, 2007. This workshop aims to solidify the foundation for finding, describing, organizing, preserving, and using the vast resource of historic instrument collections available in academic institutions worldwide. SICU2 is sponsored by the Scientific Instrument Commission of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science and by the University of Mississippi, with funding from the National Science Foundation. Visit the website for more details.

Summer Updating/Retraining Program for Elementary, MS, and HS Teachers
The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Ball State University will host nine  one-week courses this summer. The courses are presented in a hands on laboratory format and demonstrate science teaching methods, stress the use of technology, and provide new content instruction. For more information visit http://www.bsu.edu/physics/summer/

Physics and Everyday Thinking/Physical Science and Everyday Thinking Workshops
This summer, workshops on PET and PSET will be offered in Tennessee and California to prepare faculty from universities and two-year and four-year colleges to teach the guided inquiry courses. These workshops are free and are supported by the National Science Foundation. Information about the workshops, the two courses, and how to apply is at: http://cpucips.sdsu.edu/workshops

Nuclear Workshop: "Hiroshima and Nagasaki for College Teachers"
This one-week Workshop takes place June 25-29, 2007, and will be guided by Raymond G. Wilson, Ph.D., Emeritus Associate Professor, Physics Department, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington. For more details visit: http://titan.iwu.edu/~physics/Hiroshima.html

Dual Conferences on Gravitation
The 18th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation and the 7th Edoardo Amaldi Conference on Gravitation Waves will take place July 8-14, 2007, in Sidney, Australia. These conferences will bring together the world's leading scientists working in the fields of General Relativity and Gravitation. More details are available at http://www.grg18.com and http://www.amaldi7.com.

Cosmos in the Classroom 2007
This three-day, hands-on symposium on teaching astronomy to non-science majors, will be held August 3-5, 2007, at Pomona College in Southern California. The meeting is sponsored by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, with co-sponsorship by a range of astronomical and educational organizations. For updated information and to get on the mailing list for the meeting, visit this website.

International Conference on Multimedia in Physics Teaching and Learning
This conference takes place, September 13-15 in Wroclaw, Poland. Its aim is to exchange trends, research results, new materials and experiences with regard to the use of multimedia in physics education and is sponsored by European Physical Society. Visit the website for more details: http://mptl12.ifd.uni.wroc.pl/

Physics and Education News

A selection of recent stories of interest to our members.*

The Association for Women in Science Announces Election Results
Source: AWIS (Press Release, PDF)

Key to the Quantum Industry
Source: PhysicsWeb

Cassini Spacecraft Images Seas on Saturn's Moon Titan
Source: NASA

Are Public Universities Losing Ground?
Source: Inside Higher Ed

Prediction Proved: Light Speeds Up An Asteroid as It Spins
Source: The New York Times (Free Registration)

Decade of Blacks in Science
Source: The Benjamin Banneker Institute for Science and Technology

Video of the Month
Stardust: A Comet Comes to the Lab
Source: Science/AAS

A Hidden Twist in the Black Hole Information Paradox
Source: ScienceDaily

March 14, 1879: Mr. Big
Source: Wired

The Case for National Standards in American Education
Source: Education Week (Limited free subscription)

The Hole Story
Source: Discover (Subscription required)

Puzzle of the Month
Source: Scientific American

Opinion: The Power of U.S. Universities
Source: The Indianapolis Star

All Physics Great and Small: Explorations in String Cosmology
Source: The New York Academy of Sciences (Free Overview)

Mystery of the MegaFlood
Source: NOVA/PBS

Spacecraft May Surf the Solar System on Magnetic Fields
Source: NewScientist

Google to Handle Telescope Data
Source: Physics Today

Michigan Science Teachers Reaffirm Evolution
Source: National Center for Science Education

Photo of the Month
1,000 Black Holes Revealed in New Sky Survey
Source: National Geographic

Famous Physicists Online
Source: American Institute of Physics

Recommended Reading 

American Journal of Physics
Article of the Month
"Feynman's Wobbling Plate" by Slavomir Tuleja, Boris Gazovic, Alexander Tomori, and Jozef Hanc.
(AJP online subscribers only, PDF)

The Physics Teacher
Article of the Month
"Why Physics First?" by Bob Bessin
(TPT online subscribers only, PDF)

Career Center

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AAPT NEWS is a service to members of the American Association of Physics Teachers and is produced by the AAPT National Office. It is published monthly on or about the 15th. All issues are archived here. Other stories of significance appear in our
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* Links to non-AAPT sites are intended as a service to readers interested in AAPT, physics, and education. These links do not reflect an endorsement of any content or product. Also, due to the evolving nature of websites, some external links referenced in the AAPT NEWS may expire over time.