August 2023: Charles Henderson

Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Charles Henderson

  • Member since 1994
  • Professor of Physics and Science Education
  • Kalamazoo, Michigan

About Charles

I have been a member of AAPT for nearly 30 years. At that time, I had just received my master's degree in physics and started teaching high school physics and chemistry in the Minneapolis suburbs. I looked forward to getting The Physics Teacher every month and would read it from cover to cover, absorbing all of the great ideas. I regularly attended the Minnesota AAPT section meetings. My first national AAPT meeting was in 1999 and I have attended nearly every summer meeting and many winter meetings since then.

While I was teaching high school, my interactions with AAPT helped me access the knowledge base about the teaching and learning of physics. And it was really interesting! I happened to be close to the University of Minnesota where Ken and Pat Heller were working as some of the early pioneers in the relatively new field of Physics Education Research (PER). I could see that PER was a good fit for me and started part-time in the Ph.D. program, switching to full-time after a couple of years.

At that time, PER was just getting started within AAPT. I was fortunate enough to be part of that first cohort of graduate students who could get PhDs in PER rather than the founding members of the field who switched over from other areas of physics. I have spent most of my professional career trying to understand how to get good ideas from PER put into practice in college classrooms. AAPT has been a great professional home base from which to do this work. I have been able to contribute to the Physics and Astronomy New Faculty Workshop, PhysTEC, the American Journal of Physics, the Physics Education Research Conference, and the Committee on Research in Physics Education. These experiences have enriched my professional journey and enabled me to make valuable contributions to the field.

Looking back on my long-standing affiliation with AAPT, I am immensely grateful for the support, resources, and camaraderie it has provided me over the years. It has been a privilege to witness the growth of PER within the organization and to be part of its transformational impact on physics education. As I continue to explore new horizons in my career, I remain deeply committed to advancing the teaching and learning of physics through the invaluable network that AAPT offers.