TPT 50th Anniversity book - page 12

My first AAPT national meeting was the 1978
Summer Meeting in London, Ontario. I was 13
years old. My dad took the whole family to the
meeting with him and we vacationed in Canada.
I don’t remember much of that meeting, but I
still have a fossil that I found while playing near
the river during the picnic. It would be another
11 years before I became a member of AAPT
myself and received my first issue of
The Physics
in the mail.
I got my first full-time physics teaching job
starting in the fall of 1990 teaching AP Physics
and regular physics at Niles West High School.
And I have been reading
The Physics Teacher
ever since. I can’t claim to be one of those
members who grabs it out of the mailbox and
reads it cover to cover. Of course, I don’t do that
with any magazine. Most school days I usually
dump the mail on the hall table and head to
my office to plan a lesson, write a test, or grade
one. I’m embarrassed to admit that it usually
collects dust on the magazine rack until I have a
few free moments on the weekend, over spring
break, or during the summer. But when I do
get the chance to flip through an issue, there is
always an article that makes me rethink how I
am teaching. Then I kick myself for not being
more diligent in reading every issue.
I have several “favorite” articles that I
have used to develop classroom activities.
“The Interrupted Pendulum: A Laboratory
Experiment in the Conservation of Energy”
by Herbert T. Wood (Oct. 1994) provided the
inspiration for a lab that has been a staple in my
AP Physics course ever since it was published.
It is a great low-tech lab for any budget and it
involves combining the multiple concepts of
circular motion and conservation of energy.
Another article that is a staple in my classroom
is “Free-Body Diagrams Revisited – I” by James
Court (Oct. 1999). This article shows a simple
rock executing various motions and asks the
students to draw the forces on the rock. I use
this article as a worksheet in all my physics
courses, from regular level to honors and
calculus-based AP. The rock exhibits a variety
of motions from being at rest in equilibrium, to
sliding down an incline, to free fall both with
and without air resistance. I like how looking
at one simple object in different motions allows
the students to focus on the forces rather than
on less important details. There isn’t enough
room in this booklet to list all the articles
and ideas I have gotten from
The Physics
. Suffice it to say, it has provided more
professional development for me than any
education textbook.
One of my proudest moments was when my
colleague Richard DeCoster recommended that
I write up a lab the two of us developed and
submit it to
The Physics Teacher
- “A Potential
Gauss’s Law Lab” (April 2000). I was published!
It was a great moment for me. I was proud
(probably not as proud as Dad!), but I was also
grateful that I was able to give back to both a
journal, and the other authors, who provide so
many great ideas for my classroom. Another
way that I have been able to give back is as a
reviewer of other authors’ work. It is a great
privilege to read another’s work and share
ideas with another author, even if it is done
has changed and grown in the 23 years I
have been teaching. I recently flipped through
the October 2012 issue and found some of the
same great features that it has always had. The
article by Tracy Hood about a demonstration
with a balloon and compass will help me clear
up a huge misconception between magnetism
and electrostatics (p. 398). The article by
Martha Lietz
Martha Lietz has been a physics teacher at Niles West High School since
1990. She has served as president of the Chicago Section of AAPT and is
currently serving as section representative. She has also served as chair
of the Committee on Physics in High Schools. In addition to work with
AAPT, she also works as a consultant for the College Board, helping to
develop their AP Physics courses and exams.
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