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2006 Area Committee Reports and Review Board Comments

Published April 10, 2007, 2:46 p.m. EDT

Below are the 2006 committee annual reports and the respective comments of the Review Board. Links to previous years can be found below. 


2006

Apparatus
Educational Technologies
Graduate Education in Physics
History and Philosophy of Physics
International Physics Education
Laboratories
Minorities in Physics
Physics in High Schools
Physics in Pre-High School Education
Physics in Two-Year Colleges
Physics in Undergraduate Education
Professional Concerns
Research in Physics Education
Science Education for the Public
Space Science and Astronomy

Teacher Preparation
Women in Physics




2006 Committee on Apparatus

The focus of the Apparatus Committee is apparatus used for teaching physics, and associated knowledge needed to get it to the physics laboratory, lecture classroom, or outreach events for use for teaching physics. In 2006, we sponsored the following competitions, workshops, sessions, workshops, and cracker-barrels in pursuit of our mission.

At the Winter Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, January 2006, Dean Hudek and Bob Horton presented a workshop on photographing the night sky. After some delays due to inclement weather the workshop was done at an off site location and was a big success. Also at this meeting, Alice and Richard Flarend presented a workshop entitled “Activity Based on Units of Instruction for all Ages.” This very successful workshop was attended by a broad spectrum of members.

At Summer Meetings, the Apparatus Committee traditionally sponsors several annual events that are designed to share the extensive knowledge of AAPT’s (and PIRA’s) laboratory and lecture demonstration experts. They impart their knowledge to the AAPT members many of whose jobs require them to teach labs, use lecture demonstrations in their teaching, and in some cases manage these operations and the associated facilities themselves. The dedication of the presenting groups has been remarkable over the years, and to physics teachers, the subject matter is relatively timeless, since new members always need to learn these skills and long time members often need to refresh their curricula.

Dale Stille organized two full-day workshops (Lecture Demonstrations 1 & 2) with a total attendance of 95 split evenly between the two days. Presenters from across the United States teamed up with local host Sam Sampere, whose high level of organization, dedicated hard work, and outstanding demonstration facility helped guarantee excellent, and exciting workshops. The Instructional Laboratories Workshops also had a strong turn out, and a high rate of participant satisfaction. The Introductory Labs were on the first day and the Intermediate/Advanced Labs on day two. Both events, organized by Mary Creason, had many interesting experiments being presented. Attendees got to talk with presenters, try out the equipment, and actually take data.

A special push was made this year to continue active participation and in the annual Apparatus Competition and improve the quality of the entries. These efforts paid off well, with 18 fine, quality entries, with topical and interesting apparatus. All prizes were awarded, continuing the improvements made over the past two years. Kudos are extended to competition organizer Richard Flarend for his hard work, to PASCO Scientific, for the generous prizes provided, and to AAPT for funding the Apparatus Competition programs.

The paper sessions, co-sponsored by PIRA, were a huge success. The subject was Seventy-Five Years of Apparatus, I & II. Presided over by Machele Cable, the first session, was truly moving, with presentations by historical scientific apparatus expert, Thomas Greenslade; famous lecture demonstration author, D. Rae Carpenter; David Vernier, founder and owner of Vernier Software and Technology; and Paul Stokstad, president and founder of PASCO Scientific. These SRO talks all gave fascinating insight into the progression of development of the physics teaching apparatus over AAPT’s 75-year history. They also highlighted the history of many of the people who helped develop the physics lecture demonstration profession over these years, and also the introduction along the way of steadily advancing technology into teaching apparatus. No less fascinating were the human aspects of how these modern day providers of physics teaching technology developed and rose to their current level of prominence in our community. The second paper session on this topic included several interesting contributed talks including Dr. Ron Galli’s mechanical cat.

Dean Hudek organized the Instructional Apparatus Cracker-Barrel, co-sponsored by the Committee on Laboratories, which was very well received. The group shared much useful and enlightening information about instructional apparatus. Dean also organized a cracker-barrel on Professional Concerns of Instructional Resource Specialists as well, which was co-sponsored by the Committee on Professional Concerns.

The PIRA Resource Room, organized by Brian Anderson, was excellent again this year. Sharing a room with the Apparatus Competition made visitor traffic very heavy for both events for the entire meeting. The room, staffed by the Instructional Resource Specialists of PIRA, featured a vast array of educational items including live on-site demos, books and manuals, and many excellent make and take give away items, notably a huge supply of button batteries and LEDs for making micro-flashlights.

This was year’s meeting was the most exciting one for me in recent memory and a banner year for the Apparatus Committee due to the dedicated hard work of the event organizers and all who helped with their events. It’s been a pleasure to serve as chair these past two years. Many thanks to the Bauder Fund for its continued support of the many of the Apparatus Committee sponsored events. Deepest thanks to the many members of PIRA who were deeply involved in making every event such a success.

—Anthony J. Papirio, Chair

Review Board Response
As documented above, the Apparatus Committee continues to play a crucial role at our national meetings. The 2006 impact of your special sessions marking 75 years of AAPT commitment to the best development and broad use of apparatus in classrooms, labs, and public displays/demonstrations was considerable and reminded us of this long emphasis of AAPT. The 2006 push to reinvigorate the Apparatus Competition was extremely important and should be built upon in the future. Processes used to make contacts for the competition and thereby stimulate strong entries from varied sources (and to ensure the best use of prizes and award recognition) should be carefully documented and strategically passed on to all future competition directors.

The committee was also instrumental in helping us find the best national workers for the advanced laboratories task force that brought its report and recommendations to the summer meeting of 2006. We encourage every effort to stimulate strong advanced lab entries in the apparatus competition in the future and to continue to work with the Laboratory Area Committee in making advanced laboratory workshops annually fresh and appealing to national advanced lab workers.

The Apparatus Committee continues to play an important role in the very positive interface between PIRA and the broader AAPT. We recognize that both organizations profit from this relationship, and we hope AAPT/PIRA interaction can be built even stronger in the future. The formal “topical interest group” modeled and pioneered by PER workers (and the RIPE area committee) could also be explored as a way to strengthen PIRA visibility and its impact on the entire physics community.

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2006 Committee on Education Technologies

The Committee on Educational Technologies (CET) identifies, communicates, and promotes new developments in educational technology and their applications to physics teaching and learning. Our primary means to accomplish these goals are sponsoring sessions, workshops, and tutorials, and operating our two competitions at the national meetings of the AAPT. During 2006, the Committee sponsored 9 sessions and 11 workshops, and co-sponsored 2 other workshops. During the summer meeting in Syracuse, the committee sponsored its annual Photo and Video competitions.

The committee continues to consider its workshop offerings to be among its most important contributions to the AAPT. Our workshops have introduced participants to a variety of basic educational technologies including Web technologies (HTML, XML, JavaScript), and programming tools (Vpython, Excel). Other workshops have focused on technological products and collections developed by the presenters, including Physlets, WebTOP, LAAPHysics, PhET, LT3, and COMPadre. In addition, many of our workshops have introduced participants to best practices and supporting technologies for classroom and lab courses, e.g., personal response systems (“clickers”) and video analysis tools. We encourage any AAPT member with an interest in learning a new technology to contact the committee to suggest workshop topics.

The AAPT/Lexmark Photo Contest continues to be an annual highlight of our activities. We now receive over 500 entries each year, many from students outside the United States. Each year, the top 50 photos in each of two categories are displayed and judged at the summer meeting. Top entries have been featured in AAPT posters and calendars, and on the AAPT web site (http://www.aapt.org/Programs/contests/pc06.cfm). Winners have also graced the covers of The Physics Teacher, and the Announcer. The committee wishes to express our sincere thanks to our contest sponsor, Lexmark International, Inc. This year, Lexmark donated over $10,000 worth of cash and photo printing equipment to the winners, their teachers and their schools. We would also like to recognize Mary Winn, a longtime friend and sometime member of the committee who has handled all of the efforts associated with this project for many years.

The committee continues to sponsor sessions that cover a range of educational technology topics. We have concluded that each national meeting should have a contributed session on “Best Practices in Educational Technologies.” We encourage members who have developed beneficial applications of educational technology to consider presenting in this session. In addition, we have recently sponsored sessions on particular technologies (clickers, video, web-based, virtual labs, audio analysis…) on assessment of educational technology, on use of educational technologies for informal education, etc. This year, we had a highly successful experimental session on Computation in the Undergraduate Physics Curriculum. The session consisted of a mix of invited talks and posters, and the presenters at this session were invited to submit papers to a special edition of the journal Computing in Science and Engineering. That issue was published in Sept./Oct. 2006, and included approximately 20 contributions based on our session.

The meantime, the AAPT community is encouraged to attend the Committee’s meetings during the national meetings, and to forward suggestions or requests to the committee chair (Michelle Strand of Southeast Community College).

—Andy Gavrin, Chair

Review Board Response
The Committee on Educational Technology (CET) had a highly active and successful year in 2006. Its numerous diverse workshops were of high quality and its sponsored sessions offered much to AAPT meeting goers. The CET's work with the Photo and Video Contests is much appreciated. In particular, the AAPT/Lexmark Photo Contest has grown impressively and using winning photos on the AAPT calendar has brought these students' work to thousands of teachers. We commend the CET for its significant accomplishments.

The CET's activities have clearly addressed its mission statement goal to "identify new developments in educational technology and new applications of educational technology to physics teaching and learning."

The activities have also addressed in part the goal to "communicate these new developments and applications to the AAPT membership through a variety of means, including print and electronic publications, workshops, and sessions at national and regional meetings." We applaud having papers from CET's "experimental" session published in Computing in Science and Engineering.
The CET's contests meet the CET goal to "conduct competitions, as appropriate, to recognize, promote, and reward worthwhile contributions to the uses of educational technologies for physics education," and its co-sponsored workshops help to "coordinate with other area committees, organizations, and institutions in the development and dissemination of new ideas for the use of various educational technologies in physics education."

Recommendations for the Future:
  • The Review Committee recommends that the CET continue to do the successful things it has been doing. These efforts are commendable.
  • The Review Committee recommends that the CET address, and report on, the following recommendations made by the 2005 AAPT Review Committee:
    • Perhaps it is time to consider expanding these or similar competitions (e.g., simulation, website, etc.) to post-high school students. Another option would be to have the competition and judging done electronically.
    • The CET is encouraged to seek ways to offer workshops, tutorials, etc. for members who are not able to attend national meetings. Perhaps the committee could apply for a grant to provide regional workshops sponsored by a consortium of AAPT sections or via distance learning.
  • Along these lines, the 2006 Review Committee urges the CET to consider presenting a pilot workshop to a potentially international audience via the Internet. This would be a wonderful demonstration of the power of new technology to teach new technologies to people who cannot attend AAPT meetings.
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2006 Committee on Graduate Education in Physics

The main activities of the committee concentrated on the discussion of the 2005 joint report of the AAPT-APS Task Force on Graduate Education in Physics. Michael Thoennessen, as the chair of the committee, together with Janet Tate and Chandralekha Singh from the APS Education Committee and Ted Hodapp, APS Director of Education and Outreach, are currently organizing a conference on “Graduate Education in Physics: Which Way Forward?” where the status and future of graduate education in physics will be discussed. The conference will take place at the American Center for Physics in College Park, MD, and is tentatively scheduled for July 18-20, 2007. The organizers of the meeting wrote a proposal to the National Science Foundation for funding which is currently being reviewed.

Following the publication of the Task Force Report, Charlie Holbrow wrote a response called “Opportunities Analysis of the Report of Graduate Education Task Force” where he suggested several action items. The committee has started to implement some the recommendations. A session on “Information Literacy in the Physics Curriculum” chaired by Pat Viele had already been scheduled for the Summer Meeting in Syracuse. It was very well attended, and it is obvious a topic of high interest and as recommended in the opportunities analysis should warrant a topical conference. At the Seattle meeting we organize a panel to discuss “The Future of the Core Curriculum in Graduate Education.” We invited all graduate students of the University of Washington to this panel to offer them the chance to voice their opinion on this topic. It will be interesting to see if this is an opportunity to increase the involvement of graduate students in the AAPT activities. For the next Summer Meeting we are planning to continue with issues from the Task Force Report with a session on “Demonstration of Mastery: The Future of the Exams” and a workshop on “Preparation of Ethics Courses.”

The committee continued to organized “Hot Topics in Physics” sessions. Following the popular session on “The Physics of Global Warming” in Anchorage, a session covering biological physics, national security and environmental science was organized in Syracuse. In Seattle, a very interesting session on “Hot Topics in Nanoscience” will be chaired by Melissa Eblen-Zayas. In addition, co-sponsored by the Committee on Research in Physics Education, David Rosengrant held a Cracker-barrel on “The 3 Stages of a Graduate Students Life” in Syracuse, and Pat Viele also chaired a workshop on “Mining the Internet” at Seattle.

This is the last year of Ari Turner’s membership as a graduate student on the committee. Ari was very active and productive on the committee, and he deserves a special “thank you,” as he demonstrated that a graduate student can play a very important role on the committee. Next year the committee does not have a graduate student member, and it would be highly desirable to appoint a graduate student to the committee again in the future.

—Michael Thoennessen, Chair

Review Board Response
We are delighted to see useful discussion and actions resulting from the initial task force report and recommendations (and the Holbrow response), and joint society planning for the July 2007 graduate physics conference should serve to keep the ball rolling. Inter-society planning for ongoing discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of current graduate physics programs is one of the most important outcomes from the initial graduate task force effort. In the midst of these discussions, it is important to spot those aspects of graduate education in which AAPT can most directly contribute. As current directions and future trends are articulated for graduate programs, AAPT may have special interest in implications for undergraduate physics tracks (including applied physics and engineering physics), along with the goals of upper-division courses and associated laboratories. Thus our Committee on Undergraduate Physics shares with the Graduate Committee the opportunity to impact articulation policies and processes as students move through the increasingly diverse graduate school tracks in physics, physics education, applied physics, and engineering.

We agree that graduate student representation on the Graduate Committee is very appropriate, and this is especially so as AAPT seeks to expand its service and visibility among graduate students who serve as teaching assistants or who aspire to teach physics in the future. The Graduate Committee could serve us well by bringing some specific recommendations regarding desired AAPT services for graduate students. And how can we best assist graduate students that will soon be applying for teaching positions in two-year colleges, liberal arts colleges, or comprehensive universities?

Finally, we thank the Graduate Committee for continuing assistance with recommendations for excellent plenary speakers and invited sessions at our national meetings. The newly established Meetings Committee aims to further our close interactions with large universities in the vicinity of national meetings, and we welcome your continuing suggestions in that regard.

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2006 Committee on History & Philosophy of Physics

An understanding of the history and philosophy of physics can make the study of physics both a more human and humane experience. It can provide insight into the analysis and reasoning used to develop and advance our understanding of nature. It can also suggest the assumptions and implicit and explicit rules present in that process. The History and Philosophy of Physics Committee attempts to provide a forum for such considerations.

At the Syracuse meeting the committee sponsored a contributed session on Benjamin Franklin. This featured a 40 minute invited talk by Robert Morse and incorporated several contributed papers on other related topics. At the Anchorage meeting the Committee sponsored an invited session, Lessons from the Good Friday Earthquake, which featuring three experts from the Anchorage area. There was also a contributed session on the History of Physics. All were well attended.

Robert Morse conducted a H&PP Committee sponsored workshop on Franklin and Electrostatics at both Anchorage and Syracuse. David Maloney held a workshop at Syracuse on the “Game of Science” and will also do so at Seattle. All the workshops were well attended and well received.

Future plans include an invited/contributed session on Historical Apparatus at the 2007 Summer Meeting (Greensboro), an invited session on early graduate education in physics at the 2008 Winter Meeting (Baltimore), and a possible poster session in Baltimore. We would hope to repeat Robert Morse’s workshop in Baltimore and sponsor a new workshop by Don Metz on Historical Experiments at the 2008 Summer Meeting (Edmonton).

The History and Philosophy Committee because of the varied background of its members has had interesting and informative meetings that have produced a similar array of sessions, tutorials, and workshops. We would hope to continue that tradition.

—Steven Hoffmaster, Chair

Review Board Response
This committee continues to enrich national meetings with workshops and sessions, most notably drawing on the expertise of Robert Morse about Benjamin Franklin in the tricentennial of the latter's birth. Two years ago the Review Board responded that, "The committee might also examine what roles it can play beyond its contributions to the national meetings. For example, sponsoring a session of the philosophy of physics and origins would seem to be an opportunity to stimulate awareness of AAPT beyond the association's membership." This response and recommendation would seem to continue to hold true today.

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2006 Committee on International Physics Education

Our mission is to provide communication and cooperation between AAPT and physics teachers  throughout the world and to participate in joint activities with international groups involved in  physics education.

Communication
The committee continues to sponsor sessions on international physics education at the national meetings. These include physics teachers from around the world and U.S. physicists teaching abroad. Virtually every area of the world has been represented. We have sponsored both paper and poster sessions with each working best for different types of presentations.

We have coordinated efforts with the AAPT staff to send welcome e-mail messages to international attendees of AAPT meetings. Thanks to Toufic Hakim and the Board, we offered complementary registrations to some of the international registrants to the Seattle meeting. We will send a committee representative to the “First Timers Meeting” to greet the first time international attendees. Others will be invited to our committee meetings via the welcoming e-mail message.

We are expanding our list of international contacts that inform the Committee on Physics-related events in their country and to be a resource for any physics teacher traveling to their country. An e-mail letter describes the role of international contacts and the reciprocal nature of the agreement.

Ongoing Projects
We have solicited articles for the Announcer by authors from outside the United States. This consists of a call for approximately one-page articles on international education topics to be published in the Announcer.

B. Khoury and the editors of AJP and TPT have endorsed the idea of providing web-based journal issues to underdeveloped countries, selected by the same criteria as for the Fuller Fund awards. There is a precedent provided by the American Institute of Physics (AIP). The AAPT Communications and Publications Director, Rob Headrick, was contacted by the chair and will coordinate efforts with Amy Flatten of APS. There is a simultaneous project being pursued by APS in Africa. An approach involving journals on CD-ROM is being pursued.

We continue to nominate international physics teachers for the Fuller Fund Award, a two-year complementary AAPT membership to a teacher in an underdeveloped country. The AAPT staff notifies the committee chair as to the nominees and awardees.

We are planning outreach activities with international physics teaching organizations. These include: establishing web links to other international teaching organizations, posting annotated conference proceedings on our web site, and establishing topical working groups with our international colleagues in common areas of interest.

We continue to build a committee nominations list for the AAPT Nominating Committee. This allows CIE participants who are interested in committee membership to be recommended for consideration.

Participation
Our members and friends have participated in international physics teaching conferences in India, China, Costa Rica, Japan, Holland, Greece, and Hungary. It was suggested that the Executive Board send a representative to the Inter-American Conference on Physics Education in 2009 in Medellin, Columbia. This would enhance our contacts with international colleagues in Latin America.

Many of the conference participants reported on their experiences in our sponsored sessions. Some provide copies of CDs including papers and events held at these conferences.

Members and friends of the committee have been involved in ongoing international programs and activities in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America as well as the International Olympiad, which rotates locations annually.

Other Activities and Discussions
We have discussed a chair/vice chair structure for the committee. The vice chair would be appointed in the year prior to taking over as chair. This would provide the chair with additional assistance and would be a training period for the new appointee. This topic will be brought before the Executive Board.

The feedback on use of the listserve for committee business has been positive. It stimulates discussion and feedback on issues pertinent to the committee and expedites committee business.

We continue to make progress in extending our activities and outreach to all areas of the world. Our members and friends are to be commended for their contributions to the committee. Further information can be found on our Web site, linked from the AAPT home page: http://physics.luc.edu/aapt

—Gordon P. Ramsey, Chair

Review Board Response
This committee continues to develop effective and active connections with physics teachers in other countries. AAPT has significant potential to increase our numbers of international members and this committee will be central to any such effort. The use of electronic communications and web-based services will facilitate our effort to persuade non-U.S. teachers to obtain services and benefits from AAPT. In turn, AAPT will be a stronger association for all of our members.

While some AAPT members retain strong and effective involvement with the Inter-American Conference on Physics Education, it is surely good advice to AAPT that this conference have increased visibility in our organization and within the Executive Board. Toward this end, the International Committee should bring specific and timely information and recommendations to the Board about upcoming events in planning this Conference series.

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2006 Committee on Laboratories

The Committee on Laboratories sponsored several interesting and well-received workshops and sessions this past year. Often, these are co-sponsored with other committees and groups, such as Apparatus, High School, and PIRA. We have benefited through these interactions and look forward to working with other committees in the near future.

While we have continued to sponsor sessions and workshops, the primary function of the Committee on Laboratories is to act as a forum for discussion of pedagogical issues related to the laboratory at any educational level.

In the upcoming year, a drafting committee is being formed to compose a “Goals for the Advanced Laboratory” document. To date, Stephen Luzader of Frostburg State University, MD, and Robert DeSerio of the University of Florida have volunteered to begin work on a first draft. This goals document will complement the Goals of the High School and Introductory Laboratories documents and complete the upper end of the “Goals of the Laboratories” series. In addition, to address the Executive Board request for a review of the mission of all committees, we will be reviewing and revising (as needed) the goals of the Laboratories Committee.

—Gregory Puskar, Chair

Review Board Response
Since its formation, the Laboratory Committee has a tradition of helping formulate statements of pedagogical goals for laboratory systems—high school, introductory, and advanced labs. We strongly applaud your plans to work toward a more formal statement of advanced laboratory goals, especially in light of the recommendations that have come forward from the ALTF (Advanced Laboratory Task Force) in 2006. We hope a draft statement can see discussion and debate within the context of the 2007 Summer Meeting (Greensboro) and AAPT would be happy to publish a statement of consensus on this issue electronically in the future.

The recommendations of ALTF also noted the need for building a strong tradition of advanced laboratory sessions (workshops and papers) at AAPT national meetings. Some of these workshops/sessions would be hardware and apparatus oriented and would especially fall under the auspice of the Apparatus Committee, while other aspects would be distinctly pedagogical and would rely strongly on Lab Committee initiation in the future. Indeed the pedagogical models for advanced labs vary from “stand-alone courses” to labs and projects that are allied to other distinct advanced courses. We need a hearing of such issues within our national meetings, and the Laboratory Committee can play a very helpful role.

A desired interface between high school labs and their introductory counterparts at two-year and four-year institutions is of increasing importance as inquiry-based labs at both levels may have striking similarities. Support for a national forum or conference that addresses these introductory lab issues, desired conceptual and analysis levels, and underlying pedagogical goals in the midst of change, seems increasingly needed—and the Laboratory Committee may be able to help guide AAPT in addressing this need.

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2006 Committee on Minorities in Physics

The mission charge for the AAPT Committee on Minorities in Physics is as follows:

  1. Seek more effective means of recruitment and retention of minority members of society in physics classes and physics related careers.
  2. Seek methods of aiding minority physicists to overcome barriers to career development.
  3. Communicate to the AAPT membership and to the community at large the findings of the committee, through approved AAPT channels.

Toward these mission goals, the following activities were completed or are in progress for 2006.

Anchorage and Syracuse Meetings
A session was held at the Anchorage meeting on “Physics in Africa.” For the Syracuse meeting, the Committee sponsored a session on “Minor Changes, Major Results.” A workshop, “Experiencing the Pedagogical Process” that had been planned for the Syracuse meeting was rescheduled for the Seattle meeting.

Seattle and Beyond
In addition to above the workshop, the Committee has sponsored one session at the joint meeting with AAS in Seattle on helping college faculty and pre-college teachers become more adept at working with underrepresented groups. The committee will also cosponsor a session by the Teacher Preparation Committee on recruiting the next generation of physics teachers.

For the 2007 Summer Meeting (Greensboro), the Committee has several activities planned. A special effort will be made to attract HBCU faculty to the meeting, since there are several HBCUs within driving distance from Greensboro, NC. There will be sessions on Physics Education at HBCUs and Physics Research at HBCUs. Additionally, a workshop for High School teachers is planned, possibly paired with HBCU faculty. There will also be a cracker-barrel on Professional Concerns of Minorities in Physics.

—Floyd J. James, Chair

Review Board Response
We very much appreciate the committee’s effort to make the Greensboro summer meeting a singular event for a diverse physics teacher population within driving distance of Greensboro. This has very directly impacted many aspects of the developing program and the keynote speakers.

Especially as we approach this Greensboro meeting, the organization recognizes it has much to learn from the real strengths in teaching and retention of future physicists that are exhibited by HBCU’s. As AAPT aims to serve a much larger portion of the physics teaching community, it is clear we must parallel our pioneering research in how to be teach physics concepts with equally important best practices for helping a very diverse student population prosper in our classrooms and labs. AAPT leadership and staff are very anxious to make progress on this goal, and we especially welcome the wisdom and guidance that can come from this committee.

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2006 Committee of Physics in High Schools

“Progress, not perfection” summarizes the activities of the High School Committee in 2006. Through sessions, subcommittees, sponsored workshops, and special programs, the Committee sought to meet our mission to improve physics education at the high school level.

To encourage better teaching practices, the committee sponsors a minimum of four sessions at each national meeting to provide opportunities for teachers to share how they plan, organize, and assess student learning. Always popular is the High School Physics Share-A-Thon that was attended by more than 80 people in Syracuse.

To provide new resources to physics teachers, the committee actively sponsors sub-committees to develop materials that will help nurture physics education at the high school level. Two examples include the New Teacher Handbook and “Physics First” pamphlet. Portions of the New Teacher Handbook have been uploaded to The Physics Front on comPADRE and hard copies of the Handbook and the Physics First pamphlet are now available to members through the AAPT Homepage. Three other sub-committees include groups looking at Physics Standards (Laura Nickerson), High School Physics Laboratories (Olga Livanis), and the Qualifications for High School Physics Teachers (Patrick Callahan). While the Standards and the Laboratories components are in their embryonic stages, the High School Committee has teamed with the Teacher Preparation Committee to rewrite the physics pamphlet “Role, Qualifications, and Education of High School Physics Teachers.” That joint committee has been very active and is making significant progress toward the goal of producing a resource to focus discussion on a key issue affecting the most important resource for teaching physics: the teacher.

To provide professional development opportunities to the physics community, the Committee sponsors a minimum of four workshops at each national meeting. Workshops tend to be well attended and there are usually more requests from educators to lead workshops than there are slots available.

Three other standing projects supported by the Committee are the High School Photo Contest (Mary Winn), the High School Video Contest (Trina Cannon), and the High School Teaching Grant (Diane Riendeau). Both the Photo and Video contests continue to grow in popularity with over 600 pictures and 10 videos submitted for the 2006 contests. Key factors in the growth of the Photo Contest are the sponsorship of Lexmark and the publication of the award winning pictures by AAPT online, as postcards, and as a calendar. The High School Teaching Grant was revised to attract more applications. Three were received this year versus no applications in 2005. New initiatives for the Committee in 2006 included opening up the High School Listserve to Friends of the Committee to allow easier communications and sharing of ideas among members of the high school physics community. A major initiative for 2007 will be to update the High School Physics webpage to reflect current programs, projects, and policy initiatives supported by the Committee.

In summary, the High School Committee in 2007 will continue to make progress toward providing resources to the high school physics community to help improve physics education at the high school level, encourage best practices and professional development, and to help inspire future generations of physic teachers.

—Wayne Fisher, Chair

Review Board Response
The High School Committee is to be commended for its activities and programs supporting high school teachers and students. The two new publications, sponsored by the High School Committee, "Physics First" and New Teacher Handbook will be useful to the high school community. We appreciate the work of your sub-committees and the continued output of your committee. The review board looks forward to the results of the sub-committee work on Physics Standards, High School Physics Laboratories, and The Qualifications of the High School Teacher. We are pleased to note the committee is involving other committees when appropriate in deliberations.

We suggest consulting with the AAPT webmaster as you implement changes to the High School Physics Webpage. Congratulations on a good year.

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2006 Committee on Physics in Pre-High School Education

The mission of the Committee for Physics in Pre-High School Education is to:
  • Serve the teachers of K-8 students and improve the physics learned in grades K-8,
  • Work with the college teachers whose students are the future teachers of children in grades K-8, and
  • Sponsor sessions and workshops on programs and curricular materials for pre-service teachers in grades K-8.
New members in 2006 were Dewey Dysktra and Tom Foster, who joined Eugene L. Easter, Lisa L. Grable, and Robert H. Poel whose terms expire in 2008 and Herb Gottlieb, Beverley Taylor, Lezie DeWater, whose terms expire in 2007. Paul Zitzewitz served as chair for a second year. The Committee continues to have a balance of members who are involved in pre-service K-8 teacher education and university and high school teachers working on professional development for in-service K-8 teachers.

The only activity at the 2006 Winter Meeting (Anchorage) was a two-hour Tutorial, “Physics for Elementary Teachers: A New Curriculum,” by Steve Robinson. For the 2006 Summer Meeting (Syracuse) the committee sponsored three workshops, Dewey Dykstra’s "Piaget Beyond 'Piaget' for Physics Learning;" Ray Turner and Beverley Taylor’s "Physics and Toys II: Energy, Momentum, Electricity, and Magnetism;" and Fred Goldberg, Steve Robinson, and Valerie Otero’s "Physics for Elementary Teachers." The committee also sponsored two sessions, "Successfully Preparing K-8 Teachers to Teach Physics Topics," organized by Joan Mackin, and "Implications of Standards-Based Education for Elementary and Middle School Physical Science Education," organized by Bob Poel.

Four workshops and three sessions are being sponsored or co-sponsored at the 2007 Winter Meeting (Seattle). All three sessions are directed at middle-school curricula, one on the teaching of nanotechnology, the second on optics, the third on astronomy. One workshop is on a textbook for grades 8 or 9 and two on the education of K-8 teachers.

Thus the sessions and workshops sponsored by the Committee reflect a balance of its goals of supporting the teaching of physics in K-8 and the education of K-8 teachers. It has had less success developing programs discussing policy issues in K-8 education.

—Paul W. Zitzewitz, Chair

Review Board Response
The Review Board commends the Physics in Pre-High School Education Committee for its work in support of pre-high school teachers and those that interact with them. The workshops and sessions by this committee at AAPT meetings are appreciated and valued by this community. The committee is especially effective in working with those providing programs for pre-high school teachers.

We suggest that the committee consider outreach to pre-high school teachers, particularly by sponsoring workshops and sessions at meetings of organizations that pre-high school teachers are likely to attend. The committee might want to encourage traveling "branded" workshops or sessions to be presented at state science meetings. We reiterate previous Review Board suggestions that the committee form sub-committees to provide position/white papers related to its mission. ComPADRE could be used to disseminate these papers.

The Physics in Pre-High School Education is doing a great job reaching those attending AAPT meetings. The Review Board looks forward to continued growth of this relatively new committee.

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2006 Committee on Physics in Two-Year Colleges

2006 marked another very productive year for the TYC Committee. We continued in our effort to educate TYC faculty on the availability of both NSF Grants and CRD Grants. A workshop was held at the Syracuse summer meeting in order to introduce TYC faculty to the procedures necessary in preparing grant requests. We hope to continue this effort throughout the coming years.

The committee branched into new discussions involving professional concerns, including a cracker-barrel at the 2006 Summer Meeting (Syracuse). The committee hopes to explore new arenas such as workshops for new TYC faculty, career development, and professional development.

As a last issue, the committee has taken up the changes proposed by the Executive Board. We intend to propose that the TYC committee remain intact, as we believe we will continue to be a necessity a