May 2023: Adam Beehler
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
- Member since 1999
- Lecture Demonstration Specialist
- Salt Lake City, Utah
As an undergraduate student at Kansas State University, my desire was to become an engineer. There were parts of various engineering degrees that I liked but not one that I entirely enjoyed. I realized that it was the physics in each that I really appreciated, so I switched majors during my junior year. Before graduating in Physics and French, I was given the opportunity to teach and then lead physics laboratories, and I guess I was hooked because I have been teaching physics in one form or another since.
It was while a graduate student at Colorado State University that my eyes were opened to the wonderful world of community engagement. I worked closely with Brian Jones in their laboratories, demonstration room, and outreach program called the Little Shop of Physics (LSOP). I owe nearly all of my tie-dye clothing to him; but more importantly, Brian introduced me to AAPT and the Physics Instructional Resource Association (PIRA). It is through these associations that I learned to be a better teacher and more effectively share this passion of mine. It was during my many years there that I established the foundations necessary to sustain myself. I will be forever grateful for the lessons Brian and LSOP taught me and for the resources and friendships, AAPT and PIRA have provided.
If I could not share my fascination of physics with others, then I would not have remained in the field. AAPT and PIRA have given me wonderful tools to productively accomplish this. I have been blessed to work at different universities, as well as with local science museums, summer programs, community colleges, MCAT instructing, science fair judging, planetarium operating, research labs, Science Olympiads, teacher workshops, a school district television program, and many a public outreach presentation. I am aware that one does not always need to understand how things in the world around us work; however, it sure makes me more fully appreciate life. Science seeks after truth and is one forum of mine to discover it. Knowledge really is power. Some would say that getting into the details of science to explain something as beautiful as a rainbow would dampen the experience. I totally disagree, for understanding the science behind a rainbow opens my eyes even more to its beauty.