TPT 50th Anniversity book - page 20

My first contact with
took place when I
was a graduate physics student at the University
of Maryland. I had taken a position at a nearby
high school to teach one class of physics and
learned that
and its founding editor, Jay
Buchta, had an office in Washington. I spent an
informative hour with Buchta, a very gracious
and avuncular physicist, and signed on as an
AAPT member to receive
, then being sent
without charge to high school teachers, courtesy
of NSF. After Buchta’s death several years later,
Phil DiLavore and Bob Detenbeck filled the
breach splendidly on a temporary basis.
In 1966, SUNY-Stony Brook physicist Cliff
Swartz became the new editor. I had been
Cliff ’s student and was teaching PSSC Physics
at Cold Spring Harbor High School when I was
invited to join the faculty at Stony Brook to
serve as associate editor, with half of my time
devoted to the journal and half to university
teaching. The
files were shipped up to us
and we proceeded to set up the Stony Brook
office, assisted first by Jane Kahn and later
by Helen Johnston. Both were good editorial
assistants and whizzes with an IBM Selectric
typewriter, a marvel of electromechanical
engineering that made very satisfying
sounds. The American Institute of Physics
(AIP) handled design, layout, and printing
arrangements, rendering fine service.
editorial board in those early years
consisted of a mix of outstanding high school
teachers like Donald Roberts of Oak Park
and River Forest High School in Illinois, Jon
Vickery from Perrysburg High School in Ohio,
and university physicists like John Toll, the
physics department chairman at the University
of Maryland who would become president of
Stony Brook University a few years later, and
Melba Phillips of the University of Chicago, a
distinguished theoretical physicist who would
later become President of AAPT.
Our main responsibility at Stony Brook was
to solicit, review, and edit manuscripts before
sending accepted pieces to AIP for production
and mailing. There was one small problem:
we had only a handful of manuscripts to work
with, barely enough to fill our first issue. Most
high school physics teachers had not majored in
the subject, had little time to write, and taught
other subjects in addition to physics. It did not
take us long to realize that we could not just sit
and wait for articles to come flooding in.
Cliff ’s solution was to declare, with approval
from the AAPT board, that
would be
a journal devoted to the teaching of the first
physics course whether in a high school, two-
year college, four-year college, or university.
With that hunting license, we began to write
to persons speaking at AAPT, AAAS, NSTA,
Les Paldy
Les Paldy is Distinguished Service Professor at Stony Brook University,
where he has taught since 1967. His work focuses on international efforts
to eliminate nuclear weapons and includes service on U.S. arms control
delegations in Geneva and at the United Nations.
We hoped that by featuring a piece by
Feynman, others might consider
as a
good vehicle to highlight their work.
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