SM11 Theme:  Communicating Physics Outside the Classroom

Thank you!

We thank everyone who attended the meeting and helped make it a success!  Check out the highlights and photo gallery from the meeting.  Creighton University, host of the 2011 Summer Meeting in Omaha, has created a video about the meeting.

We hope you will plan to join us in Ontario, California, for the 2012 Winter Meeting.


Plenary & Awards Ceremony Recordings

Visit the 2011 Summer Meeting USTREAM Channel to see videos of the plenaries and awards ceremonies.  

Alternative Access Session Recordings

Two sessions at this meeting were part of an Alternative Access Pilot Project to test the feasibility of providing session content to those who were not able to attend.  The Educational Technologies Committee's session, "Best Practices in the Use of Educational Technologies ll" and the Physics in High Schools Committee's session, "Alternative Assessments and Practicums" were our test sessions.


Competition Results

The Apparatus Competition, sponsored by the Committee on Apparatus and Pasco Scientific, and the High School Physics Photo Contest, sponsored by Vernier Software and Technology, were very successful.  Thank you to everyone who contributed to these projects.


Save the dates and join us in Ontario, California
February 4 - 8, 2012




Klopsteg Memorial Award Lecture

James E. Hansen, 2011 recipient of the Klopsteg Memorial Award will deliver the Klopsteg Memorial Lecture. The award recognizes outstanding communication of the excitement of contemporary physics to the general public. Hansen, known as "the father of global warming" heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and is the author of "Storms of My Grandchildren."  Lecture attendees will have the opportunity to purchase an autographed copy of the book.  Read more...



The 2011 AAPT Summer meeting will be held on the campus of Creighton University. A block of rooms have been reserved at the Doubletree Hotel and Executive Conference Center(shuttle buses will run between the two locations) and campus dorm rooms will also be available to those looking for alternative sleeping accommodations.

Map of Creighton University        Omaha Interactive map       Omaha map with Search

About the Meeting

Physicists speak a special language. We pride ourselves on defining our terms in a very precise and consistent way. And yet, to much of the world what we say is unintelligible. Likewise, it’s sometimes hard for us to hear the physics in what nonscientists are saying. At this meeting we will focus on the art (possibly even the science?) of talking about the science we love with that larger audience beyond the students who come to our classes intent (or at least attempting!) to learn the language of physics. Whether it is at a planetarium, during a baseball game, or in a blog or a popular movie, we will reflect on the most effective ways to communicate the beauty and power of physics.



  • Science and Religion: Recent interchanges between science and religion have sparked serious interest and no little heat. Science educators have an investment in these discussions, not just because they impact public school curricular policy - curious students and colleagues often raise questions whose answers require examining subtle distinctions.


  • Communicating Climate Change: Jim Hansen, the “father of global warming” will present the latest in communicating with the public on this critical issue from the Late Show to his book, Storms of My Grandchildren, in the Klopsteg award plenary. Signed copies will be awarded to randomly chosen attendees.
  • Spacetime Physics: One of the greatest challenges in communicating the physics of relativity is the unfamiliar concept of spacetime. Panel participants Edwin Taylor (Exploring Black Holes), Anne Cox (Physlet Quantum Physics), and Thomas Moore (Six ideas that Shaped Physics) will present their insights into teaching spacetime physics.
  • Educating the Larger Public About Science - Lessons from Public Institutions: A number of public scientific institutions (national laboratories, museums, planetariums, etc.) make extraordinary contributions to improving the science literacy of members of the citizenry at large. This session focuses on some of the successes achieved (and challenges faced) by people doing science outreach in these settings, and the present relationship between more traditional forms of science education and what happens in these public venues.
  • Energy and the Environment

Click here to view all sessions and abstracts.

Click here to use the meeting scheduler.


Tours (Please see the registration page for date, time and cost):

Visit Creighton University's "Haunted Physics Lab"

The Haunted Physics Lab is a unique learning experience originated at Creighton University.  In it, you will confront electrical, mechanical and optical phenomena in the context of Halloween.  Among the 30 interactive exhibits are a modern version of "The Kiss" and an original application of the giant Mirage called "The Dracula Illusion".  If you dare, enter the chamber of the body-less, "Physics Department Head!"  It lives in a box!  It talks!  It's alive!

Omaha Energy Tour
Strategic Air & Space Museum
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo Tour


How Safe is your Laser Pointer?

Bring it to the AAPT Summer Meeting in Omaha and visit the PIRA Resource Room to find out. Our expert physics equipment personnel will test your pointer to determine its power. This service will be available from 8 AM until 5 PM each day of the conference. Check your program guide for the location.

High School Physics Teachers Day for First-Time Attendees

If you are a high school physics teacher who has not attended a national meeting, we want you!

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Some photos courtesy of