AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers

Here are the AAPT announcements from April, May, and June of this year.

June 2007
Executive Board April Meeting Summary
Area Chairs and Section Reps Discuss AAPT Governance

May 2007
Governance Planning Retreat
Executive Officer Crackerbarrels
Obituary: James B. Gerhart
2008 Candidates for the AAPT Executive Board

April 2007
Obituary: H. Richard Crane
Planning Action Group (PAG) Update 5

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Executive Board April Meeting Summary
By Steve Iona, Secretary

June 15, 2007

  1. While the American Chemical Society has chosen to drop its members from Iran, AAPT and the American Physical Society have not chosen to do so.
  2. The Advanced Lab group has established a large and active list serve. Ramon O. Torres-Isea, University of Michigan, has agreed to serve as the Advance Labs website editor.
  3. The Board voted to support the decision to send the U.S. Physics Team to the International Physics Olympiad in Iran in Summer 2007.
  4. The Board voted to 1) restructure some of the membership rates resulting in generally reduced rates for pre-college members and slightly increase rates for college/university members, and 2) link rates for emeritus and retired members to a percentage of their corresponding pre-retirement category. International (outside of North America) members would receive electronic-only journal memberships. Physics Departments can now establish bundled memberships combining some reduced rates for conferences and a collection of individual memberships. The new rates will go into effect in January 2008.
  5. The AAPT “free trial memberships” have attracted more than 300 new members primarily through AAPT’s participation in other society vendor shows.
  6. The new preliminary testing program has resulted in a 100% increase in participation in students participating in the Physics Olympiad.
  7. There is a major effort to evaluate the effectiveness of the New Faculty Workshops from the perspective of the participant and the department.
  8. The upcoming Summer Meeting in Greensboro, NC, has the largest number of abstract submissions ever (more than 500 to date).
  9. The efforts and work of the Fundraising Advisory Committee was acknowledged and will be expanded once a Development Officer is hired at the National Office. The group has helped with a recent launch of fundraising efforts to support the awards program and they developed guidelines to be used for memorial gifts to AAPT.
  10. The Board voted to affirm the appointment of John Mallinckrodt to serve as acting editor of the American Journal of Physics for one-year with Jan Tobochnik serving as an advisory consultant. Jan Tobochnik will be serving as acting Provost at Kalamazoo College, MI.
  11. The Board approved a resolution thanking Dr. F. James Rutherford and applauding his thoughtful and generous support. Rutherford has allowed AAPT to serve as the exclusive distributor of a DVD featuring original footage of Enrico Fermi and leading scientists of his era. This gift will help support AAPT’s efforts to recruit new members and advance its fundraising efforts on behalf of physics education.
  12. The Board established a Public Policy Committee to give counsel to the Executive Officer. The Committee will provide advice on issues of public policy in which AAPT should be engaged, how we should be engaged, strategies to involve our members effectively in public policy discussions and action, methods of developing legislative public policy statements (letters of support and endorsement and opinions on pertinent state or federal legislation), ways to advocate for AAPT’s statements on physics education and pertinent prospective legislation that should be proposed, process of developing communication and programmatic vehicles to strengthen AAPT’s national role in public policy.
  13. AAPT has submitted a grant proposal to the NSF: PTRA—A New Teacher Study. Currently in pre-approval are three proposals submitted by Bob Hilborn dealing with Building Undergraduate Programs for the 21st Century: Regional Workshops ($236,288), SPIN-UP II ($110,000), and SPIN-UP HBCU ($137,000).
  14. A Search Committee will be established to select an Editor and Chief of Online Publications.
  15. The Board approved establishing the Committee for the Interests of Senior Physicists as a permanent Area Committee.
  16. The Board authorized several changes in the awards program including wording changes in the description of the major awards offered and expanding the number and types of awards offered.

Area Chairs and Section Reps Discuss AAPT Governance
By Bernard V. Khoury, Executive Officer Emeritus
June 15, 2007

In late May, about 65 active AAPT leaders met for a two-day retreat to discuss issues in AAPT governance. The participants included most of our section representatives and most of the chairs of our area committees. Several observers and resource people also attended, including five members of the AAPT Board.

The initial stimulus for the governance discussion derived from the retreat held in June 2006 among the AAPT Executive Board and other leaders (view Summary
). That earlier retreat included attention to the effectiveness of our area committees and their relationship to policy issues being considered by the AAPT Board; it also included discussions of how to improve the relationships between the national organization and our 47 sections.

The May retreat was lead by a smaller planning group of about 12 area chairs and section reps that met in April to lay out an agenda and a set of issues to be discussed by the larger group.

The planning group and the retreat participants are still working to develop a report on the discussions. Once the report is drafted, a website with the background materials and the report will be shared with all of our members to assure full opportunity for input and discussion. The report will also be given to the AAPT Governance Review Group for its consideration. On an interim basis, the AAPT Board will be apprised of the status of the effort at its July meeting in Greensboro, NC. Any actions that might result will obviously depend on these planned discussions and input from all AAPT members and constituencies.

While it is clearly premature to anticipate any results of these ongoing deliberations, the retreat considered several issues. With respect to the sections, the primary focus was to ask how the central organization could better serve the sections more effectively and, in turn, how the section reps and sections can serve the central organization more effectively. The group examined membership options intended to make it possible for all section members to join the central organization so that AAPT membership consists of virtually all physics educators, including those with local or regional or national or international perspectives. The group also asked how AAPT resources could be more effectively used to advance the agenda and purposes of the individual sections.

With respect to the area committees, the primary issue was to determine how best the area committees could be aligned and organized so that they could become more engaged in setting and advancing the AAPT policy agenda, as well as continuing to fulfill their crucial role in planning the program for annual meetings. The retreat participants considered grouping some of the committees in ways that would encourage cross-constituency discussions of educational policy issues as they impact teachers, students, and curricula.

Following efforts to consolidate the results of the retreat discussions, broader membership input will be sought. The Governance Review Group will also get a chance for input including reaching out to other AAPT groups. Subsequent steps will be consideration by the AAPT Board, the AAPT Council, and finally the AAPT membership if AAPT’s primary governance documents need to be revised.

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Governance Planning Retreat
May 15, 2007

More than 65 active members will meet May 23-25 at AAPT headquarters for a Governance Planning Retreat. The participants include the 18 area chairs, close to 40 section representatives or designees, and a number of board members and officers. They will explore and discuss more effective ways for the central organization to support its sections and area committees, and for the sections and the area committees to be more engaged in advancing AAPT's mission.
The need to enhance section relations and the role of area committees was discussed at the June 2006 leadership retreat and during the deliberations of the Planning Action Group. This governance planning retreat, which was initiated at the October 2006 meeting of the Board, follows an April planning session led by a group of 12 representing the area chairs and section representatives.

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Executive Officer Crackerbarrels
May 15, 2007

At the upcoming Summer Meeting in Greensboro, AAPT Executive Officer, Toufic Hakim, will preside over two crackerbarrel sessions on Monday, July 30:
  •    Q&A with the AAPT Executive Officer, 6-8 p.m., Colony B-C
  •    AAPT Planning, 8-10 p.m., Colony B-C
We invite all meeting attendees to join Dr. Hakim, Directors from the Central Office, and others and engage in a conversation about the future of AAPT.

Similar crackerbarrels will be on the schedule for every annual meeting.

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Obituary: James B. Gerhart
May 9, 2007

James B. Gerhart, 78, a staff member of the Physics Department at the University of Washington since 1956, died on February 24. He was AAPT President in 1979-80 and a 1985 recipient of the Millikan Award. At Washington and, earlier, at Princeton, Gerhart focused his research on studies of nuclear beta decay. A complete obituary can be found here. (Physics Today subscription required).

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2008 Candidates for the AAPT Executive Board
May 3, 2007

The 2008 Nominating Committee and the AAPT Executive Board are pleased to announce the candidates for the elections that will take place in fall 2007. Those elected will begin their terms of office in January 2008.
(Candidate biographical information is forthcoming).

David M. Cook, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI
Steven Turley, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Robert Teese, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
Paul W. Zitzewitz, University of Michigan, Dearborn

High School Representative
Elizabeth B. Chesick, The Baldwin School, Bryn Mawr, PA
Nina M. Morley Daye, Orange High School, Hillsborough, NC

2008 National Nominating Committee Members
Wolfgang Christian, Chair
John Fitzgibbons
Ken Krane
Laura McCullough
David Wright

About the Nominating Committee Process
Each year the National Nominating Committee identifies candidates for elected positions on the Executive Board and also two members for each Area Committee. Nomination forms are available at http://aapt.org/aboutaapt/nominationform.cfm.

For more information: Nominations and Elections

Nominations may be submitted at any time and are generally considered for approximately two years. Please send nominations to:

Wolfgang Christian
Davidson College
Dept of Physics
PO Box 6926
Davidson, NC 28035-6926

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Obituary: H. Richard Crane
April 25, 2007

Dr. H. Richard Crane, 99, President of AAPT in 1965-66, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a winner of the National Medal of Science in 1986, died April 19 following a brief illness. 

Crane joined the University of Michigan Physics Department in 1934 and built a particle accelerator in a laboratory there in 1938. His columns on How Things Work in The Physics Teacher were published as a book of the same name by AAPT in 1992. The Crane Liberal Arts and Science Building at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is named in honor of Crane and his late wife.

"We are always saddened by the passing of our AAPT members and leaders," said AAPT Executive Officer Toufic Hakim. "We send condolences to former President Crane's friends and family, and celebrate his many intellectual contributions to AAPT and, through it, to physics education. His leadership helped give AAPT the dynamic capacity to grow as a premiere organization on physics teaching. His legacy lives on."

Len Jossem, Professor of Physics Emeritus at The Ohio State University, said, "I think I first met Dick Crane at the Ann Arbor Conferences he organized in the early 60's and I knew him thereafter during the years we were both associated with the Commission on College Physics, and, of course, for many years in AAPT."

"The use of the phrase 'A Gentleman and a Scholar' has perhaps gone a bit out of style these days, but in a very real sense it describes Dick perfectly. It was a privilege and a pleasure to know him and to talk with him. Both as a physicist and as a teacher of physics he brought to his work an uncommon understanding, concern, and inventiveness. His membership in the National Academy of Sciences and his many articles in the AAPT journals about the problems of teaching and about 'how things work' are all testimony both to the breath of his interests and his ability to see things clearly and to speak clearly and persuasively about them."

"I have known few men like him. We will all miss his company, his insights, his wisdom, and his friendship."

A complete obituary is available here.

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Planning Action Group Update 5
April 13, 2007
By Rob Headrick

The Planning Action Group met for its fourth session on March 23-25. The group built on previous analyses and discussions and explored further how to broaden AAPT’s impact on physics education. The set of impact goals, objectives, and strategies that members of PAG have proposed is being completed. It will be presented to the Board at the end of April for review before open discussion with the membership at our 2007 Summer Meeting in Greensboro during a prescheduled cracker-barrel (Look for additional info on this session soon.) The planning process, which started 18 months ago and culminated in a June 2006 retreat, will lead to a strategic framework that will guide AAPT’s decision making and resource allocation for the next few years.

“These discussions continue to expand my understanding of the AAPT culture. I find myself constantly amazed with what AAPT has achieved through its members and has the potential to accomplish,” said Toufic Hakim, Executive Officer. “I am quite grateful to the members of PAG for their ideas and vision, their constructive and critical thinking, and their dedication to AAPT. I must also recognize Karen Johnston for her invaluable assistance during this process and the wealth of information she has brought to it. I also thank Warren Hein for his continued leadership.”

Among the effects of PAG’s work is the review of AAPT governance. Following discussions at the June retreat and decisions of the Board at its October meeting, PAG discussed governance issues at its first two sessions. This led to a gathering of 18 AAPT members at the AAPT central headquarters (April 12 and 13) to plan a governance retreat scheduled for the end of May. The group, which was selected by the section representatives and area chairs on their behalf, engaged in a stimulating discussion about AAPT’s future operation. Its members will lead the retreat of all section representatives and area chairs to propose elements of governance that will enhance AAPT’s effectiveness locally and strengthen its intellectual leadership.

“I thank members of the governance review planning group as well,” Hakim said. “I look forward to continuing my engagement with them and with the area chairs and section representatives. This is by no means the ending of the process: just one small, additional step taken. The work is still unfolding. I trust that the PAG volunteers, chairs and representatives, and many other active contributors to AAPT will stay engaged (and engage others) as we seek new ways to strengthen the association’s impact.”

Participants at the governance review planning session included: Mario Belloni, Alan Gibson, Steve Iona, Todd Leif, Marina Milner-Bolotin, and Mary Mogge (on behalf of Section Reps); Ernie Behringer, Karim Diff, Charles Henderson (who may serve as a substitute if needed for Rachel Scherr), Ingrid Novodvorsky, Marie Plumb, Greg Puskar and Rachel Scherr (on behalf of Area Chairs); and Lila Adair, Alex Dickison, Toufic Hakim, Warren Hein, and Bernie Khoury (AAPT Officers).

Members of PAG include Ruth Chabay, former Board Member; Dwain Desbien and Alan Gibson, Board Members; and Dick Peterson, former President and Secretary; Karen Johnston, former President, as facilitator; and Toufic Hakim and Warren Hein.

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