May 2022: Rachel Scherr

University of Washington Bothell, Bothell, Washington

Rachel Scherr

  • Member since 1995
  • Assistant Professor of Physics
  • Bothell, Washington

About Rachel

I fell in love with physics as a high school "explainer" (like a docent) at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, a museum of science and perception, where I learned that science learning should be delightful and learners should be able to make their own choices. My first physics class in high school was later, and it was a frustrating turnoff – which showed me how much teaching matters to one’s experience of a subject. When I discovered physics education research (PER) in graduate school, it was like reconnecting to the Exploratorium for me! I still love how PER is about physics and how people experience physics.

AAPT has always been a primary home for the PER community, and conferences are one of the most important ways that I stay connected to the national community of physics education researchers. Some of these relationships go back almost 30 years!

Thanks to the connections that AAPT helps me sustain, I collaborate widely to study the teaching and learning of physics along with physics disciplinary culture and practices. My AAPT connections have helped me support generational efforts to improve instruction in introductory physics, develop novel tools for teaching energy in physics, and collaborate to address racial inequity in physics education.

Presently, one of my major projects is helping high school teachers explore energy learning to promote discussions of energy justice and energy equity globally and in our local communities. This year, I am bringing high school teacher partners to AAPT with me for the first time. I cannot wait to introduce them to everyone!