Area Committee Reports 2004

Published April 10, 2007, 2:46 p.m. EDT

Below are the 2004 committee annual reports and the respective comments of the Review Board.



2004 Committee on Apparatus

This committee is focused on hands-on learning and the associated equipment. To this end we sponsored the following sessions, workshops, cracker-barrels, and competitions during 2004.

Greg Puskar organized the session on fluids at the Winter Meeting in Miami Beach, FL. The speakers, Paul Hewitt and Doyle Davis, attracted more than 50 attendees, making this session a real success. The Apparatus Committee sponsored many successful activities at the Summer Meeting in Sacramento, Calif., including the Apparatus Competition organized by Richard Flarend. Unfortunately, the number and quality of entries continues to decline with only eight entries this year. The possibility of holding the competition every other year was discussed. Many thanks to PASCO scientific for its continued support of this event. Dean Hudek organized the Instructional Apparatus Crackerbarrel, which was well received with about 16 participants. Harold Stokes organized the Instructional Apparatus Poster Session.

Hudek also organized the Instructional Laboratories Workshops. With 18 participants the first day and 12 the second day, this event was well received. Attendee feedback was positive. Dave Maiullo organized the Lecture Demonstrations Workshops. With about 35 attendees each day, this event continues to be a big success.

Many thanks to the Bauder Fund for its continued support of the Instructional Laboratories Workshops and the Lecture Demonstrations Workshops.

Physics Instructional Resource Association

This has been a truly successful year for PIRA. The hard work and dedication of our members was evident in the wonderful successes of all PIRA events at the 2004 AAPT Summer Meeting.

Machele Cable was elected Vice President and David Haley was elected Secretary.

The PIRA session "Sports and the Human Body" was organized by Gerald Zani. With 100 attendees the first day and 40 the second, these talks were a huge success.

The PIRA Resource Room, organized by Dale Stille, was a rousing success. It focused on the dissemination of teacher resource materials. Many thanks to D. Rae Carpenter, Jr., Richard B. Minnix, and many others, as well as to the Bauder fund for financial support.

The DCS (Demonstration Classification Scheme) subcommittee continues to keep the PIRA 200 current and available online and the LCS (Laboratory Classification Scheme) committee continues to work towards developing a similar classification scheme for instructional labs. The Salary Survey subcommittee will have its survey online soon and the Constitution Committee continues to research and suggest changes to optimize our constitution. The first newsletter in several years was distributed at the 2004 Summer Meeting. Thanks to all of committee members for their tireless contributions.

The Apparatus Committee and PIRA thank Varney Johnson and his colleagues at California State University Sacramento for doing such an excellent job of dealing with all of our packages and special requests.

The Apparatus Committee continues to benefit greatly from the many valuable contributions made by PIRA and its members. The Committee is also very grateful for the help it receives from its many "Friends of the Committee" and its continued interactions with the Committee on Laboratories.

- Dean Hudek, Chair

Review Board Response

The Review Board believes that the diversity and quality of the activities organized by the Committee on Apparatus and its productive interactions with PIRA are outstanding. Does the PIRA Salary Survey subcommittee coordinate its efforts with the Committee on Professional Concerns?

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2004 Committee on Education Technologies


The Committee on Educational Technologies (CET) identifies, communicates, and promotes new developments in educational technology and their application to physics teaching and learning. During 2004, CET accomplished these goals by sponsoring and leading more than two dozen workshops, tutorials, and sessions at AAPT National Meetings. While we have been very successful in these endeavors, we are concerned about the competing interests of having the meeting be useful to its participants, while at the same time not being too overrun with an overabundance of workshops, tutorials, and sessions. Balancing these two competing interests is difficult for most committees; for CET, this balancing act is made even more difficult because much of our identity lies in sponsoring technology-based activities. Our workshops tend to be very technical, and the more technical they become, the smaller the audience. Despite these smaller turnouts, CET believes such activities are vital to our organization. Additionally, as technology evolves, we must remain flexible with workshop themes and incorporate new topics when appropriate. We are concerned about the costs associated with leasing computers and other technologies used during our workshops because these costs are passed on to our participants and the AAPT. Since many meeting attendees bring personal laptop computers to our national meetings, we designated two tutorials at the Sacramento AAPT meeting as BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop). Participants in these tutorials had a workshop-like experience but without the associated costs.

To better serve AAPT members, the Committee sought ways to specifically address the educational technology needs and interests of its members. To accomplish this, we conducted a survey during the 2004 Summer Meeting to assess the educational technologies members would like to see at future meetings. The survey results indicate that members prefer technology-based workshops (over tutorials and sessions), and stated that cost and scheduling influence their workshop attendance. These results were shared with AAPT’s Committee on Meetings.

- Mario Belloni, Chair

Review Board Response

The Review Board believes that CET has the daunting challenge of keeping pace with technological advances, mastering their idiosyncrasies, and then gently sharing these findings with the larger organization in a timely manner.

Strong leaders and visionary committee members have earned the respect of the AAPT and its members. Through numerous workshops and tutorials, CET continues to provide our members the opportunity to explore innovative teaching technologies, while its sponsored sessions remain well attended.

The committee selflessly serves the AAPT and has taken the lead in designing a survey and other evaluation tools that will improve the quality of future workshops and meetings. CET understands that National Meetings require a delicate balance of our members’ time and resources to provide meaningful workshops, tutorials, sessions, plenary talks, exhibition events, and networking opportunities. In recognizing this, the committee has demonstrated that it is here to serve our members needs and interests first, in addition to providing a positive resource for our organization’s growth and development.

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2004 Committee on Graduate Education in Physics


The Committee on Graduate Education initiated (in 2003) the formation of the a joint AAPT-APS Task Force on Graduate Education. This Task Force was fully staffed by spring 2004 and began its mission to study the status of graduate education in physics and to make recommendations. The Task Force met in College Park in August 2004 and a survey to physics departments, to be conducted by AIP, was reviewed and revised. The survey now has been carried out and the results await the next meeting of the committee, scheduled for early November 2004. It is anticipated that the results of the survey and the broader work of the committee will be reported at the January 2005 AAPT meeting, and then will be disseminated more widely.

The Committee has continued its policy of trying to increase the presence of physics at the AAPT meeting by sponsoring invited sessions on contemporary topics in physics. The necessity for such sessions may be somewhat reduced from a few years ago with the increase in invited research talks by other committees (notably Women in Physics) and plenary research talks.

In addition to physics research-oriented sessions, the Committee co-sponsored a session on Teaching Biological Physics at the January meeting and sponsored one on Information Literacy at the August meeting. A session with speakers from non-academic employment sectors, speaking on the topic of careers in those sectors, is planned for January 2005.

This Committee struggles a bit with membership, and with active participation by members. There appear to be issues preventing some members from attending many meetings. The poor attendance at committee meetings is exacerbated by the scheduling of simultaneous committee meetings. In particular, the CISP meeting should not be scheduled at the same time as the Graduate Education Committee due to the overlap in membership. The perpetual need to recruit new members and the difficulty associated with that task has led to discussions concerning whether this committee should be merged with another committee.

At the moment, there is no clear indication how this could be achieved satisfactorily. The committee seems to function reasonably well even with only two or three active members, but it could accomplish much more of its mission with more active members.

-Renee D. Diehl, Chair

Review Board Response


The Review Board commends the committee for taking the initiative to focus AAPT attention on some large issues that link our concerns with those of the research universities and provide common ground for AAPT and APS to work together. The report is not clear on whether the Graduate Education committee is following closely the work of the task force, on whether it is trying to influence it, and on whether it has ideas on how the task force should shape its work. Reaching out to physics teachers concerned with graduate education in physics is very important. It is to be hoped that the AAPT Committee on Graduate Education will show an aggressive interest in the work of the Task Force and will strive to contribute to it. The Graduate Education committee might also devote serious consideration to formulating other initiatives for how AAPT can be more responsive to the interests and needs of teachers of graduate level physics inside and outside the AAPT. The difficulty of recruiting committee members and then engaging them in important activities is a worrisome problem. Clearly this problem needs the attention of the committee. The Executive Board is likely to be responsive to suggestions for ways to attract more energetic participants to the committee, including further proposals to involve AAPT more actively in graduate physics education.

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2004 Committee on History and Philosophy of Physics

Issues in the history and philosophy of physics are relevant to and implied by many discussions in the AAPT. Hence, the mission of the Committee on the History and Philosophy of Physics (CHPP) is to raise an awareness of history and philosophy and its role in physics teaching. Below is a summary of recent and future activities.

At the Miami Meeting (Winter 2004), the CHPP sponsored two sessions: "History and Philosophy of Physics and Physics Teaching" and "My Life as a Scientist". The latter session included presentations by the following women leaders in physics: Esther Conwell, Mildred Dresselhaus and Vera Rubin.

At the Sacramento meeting (Summer 2004), the CHPP sponsored its first ever History and Philosophy of Physics Resource Room (in collaboration with the Apparatus Committee and PIRA). Also, the committee sponsored a special session on modern physics entitled "20th Century Appletrees", featuring Gaurang Yodh, Andrew Harris, Virginia Trimble, John Rigden, and Albert Bartlett, and Terry Klopcic. This session was very well attended!

At the upcoming meeting in Albuquerque (Winter 2005), the CHPP will sponsor a workshop by Robert Morse entitled "Franklin and Electrostatics" and an invited oral session entitled "A Selective History of Government Sponsored Science" (which includes speakers from Sandia and Los Alamos Labs).

The CHPP is grateful to the AAPT Program Committee for accepting our nomination of Michael Janssen, University of Minnesota, as plenary speaker for the Albuquerque meeting. Janssen is an expert on the life of Albert Einstein, and will help us to kick off our celebration Einstein’s Miracle Year!

In the future, we will continue to offer sessions on the interaction of the history and philosophy of physics and the physics classroom. Also, we are planning an invited session on the philosophy of science centered on the origins debate.

The Committee continues to disseminate information about its activities through its new website ( This site contains the CHPP mission statement, membership information, a list of CHPP-sponsored workshops and sessions at annual meetings since 1995, a list of recent Physics Today articles on the history and philosophy of physics, and related links.

Through these and other activities, the CHPP will make a collective, determined, and sustained effort to share the belief that the learning of science is supported by learning about science.

-Mark Lattery, Chair

Review Board Response

The committee shows commendable energy and initiative in making valuable contributions to the AAPT National Meetings. Given that it often brings quite distinguished physicists to these meetings, the committee might explore ways to better publicize these people and their accomplishments in advance of the meetings. The committee might also examine what roles it can play beyond its contributions to the national meetings. For example, sponsoring a session of the philosophy of physics and origins would seem to be an opportunity to stimulate awareness of AAPT beyond the associations membership.

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2004 Committee on International Physics Education

The mission of the International Education Committee is to provide a channel of communication between AAPT members and physics teachers and students around the world and to facilitate cooperation with international groups concerned with physics education. To accomplish its mission the committee:

• Sponsors sessions at the summer and winter meetings;
• Invites speakers from other countries to make presentations at meetings; and
• Encourages participation by AAPT members in international meetings related to physics teaching.

The contributions of the Friends of the Committee continue to be essential to the fulfillment of the mission.

The committee continued the tradition of sponsoring sessions entitled "Physics Teaching Around the World" at both the winter and summer AAPT Meetings. At the Winter Meeting the session included several papers based on the VII Inter-American Conference on Physics Education (IACPE) held in Havana in July 2003. The committee was very disappointed that, due to illness, Eduardo Molto (organizer of the Havana conference) had to cancel his presentation. In addition, there were papers contrasting U.S. and international students’ understanding of Gauss’ law and a U.S. teacher’s comparison of teaching the introductory physics course here and in England as a Fulbright scholar. At the Summer Meeting the PTWA session included a large number of papers on a wide variety of topics. The committee was very pleased to co-sponsor two sessions organized by The Committee on Minorities in Education.

Several years ago the committee invited a group of Danish physics teachers to come to an AAPT meeting. This was followed by a visit to Denmark by a group from AAPT. The delegation also went to Sweden where they participated in a meeting of teachers from the Scandinavian and Baltic countries. As a result of the efforts of Jeff Mallow, this relationship has continued. We are planning a second visit to Denmark and participation in the 2005 Science Teachers meeting in Iceland.

The International Group for Physics Education (GIPEP) is a group of physics educators based in Europe. Members of AAPT have been active participants in their meetings for at least 25 years. The next meeting will be held in 2006. The next IACPE meeting will also be held in 2006 in Costa Rica.

Notices of international meetings are posted on the committee’s web page and listed in the Announcer. Any member of AAPT who is interested in what is happening in physics education in other parts of the world is invited to attend the sessions sponsored by the committee and the committee meetings.

-John FitzGibbons, Chair

Review Board Response

Physics as a science is independent of geological and political boundaries, but the teaching of physics is influenced by these boundaries. There is no one best method for teaching, and we can all learn valuable lessons from each other. To do that we must interact and communicate what we are doing and how effectively our students learn this challenging subject. The Committee on International Physics Education and its many Friends continue to do an excellent job of fostering our international interactions on the subject of teaching physics, keeping us informed of opportunities for interactions at international conferences and meetings, and organizing sessions at our national AAPT meetings.

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2004 Committee on Laboratories

The goal of the Committee on Laboratories is to advance the pedagogy of the laboratory setting throughout the student’s physics experience. We work closely with the Committee on Apparatus and with PIRA to achieve this goal.

We continue to sponsor workshops and sessions to help the AAPT membership improve their teaching within the laboratory environment. In Miami Beach, a very interesting session on radiation safety was scheduled over the dinner hour, but still managed to pull a small audience. In Sacramento, the theme of Physics of Sports and the Human Body was also the theme of several sessions, all of which were well attended. Examples included using skydiving, bicycles, and human vocal cords to help our students learn physics. These examples illustrate the growing trend of using the human body and biology applications in the physics teaching laboratory. The committee also sponsored a cracker-barrel session on performance assessment. This session generated a lively discussion and the committee is sponsoring future workshops and sessions to explore assessment in the teaching laboratory.

The Committee on Laboratories has partnered with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to sponsor workshops and sessions to help the AAPT membership secure Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) grants. This program is tailor-made to help undergraduate institutions develop and disseminate outstanding programs. NSF Program Directors Duncan McBride and Theodore Hodapp generously led sessions and workshops at the Miami Beach Winter meeting of the AAPT, and we will sponsor similar workshops and sessions in the future.

The committee continues to generate interest and explore funding avenues for LabFocus II. In 1993, the first LabFocus conference was held to educate attendees about the new computer interfaces and educational impact of them. Ten years later, there is a new need to refocus the physics laboratory. The organizing committee continues to plan LabFocus II and we welcome input from all members of the physics community.

The Committee on Laboratories lost one of its members this past year.  J. William (Bill) Dawicke passed away on July 19, 2004. He was the chair of the Chemistry and Physics Department at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). Dawicke taught physics for more than 35 years and won MSOE’s Oscar Werwath Distinguished Teaching Award as well as the appreciation of many students. Dawicke was an active and creative member of the committee and will be missed by all who knew him.

-Tom Foster, Chair

Review Board Response

Your sponsored sessions and workshops encouraging CCLI proposals (and also reports from CCLI grants) have been especially successful and important in both meetings of 2004, and they directly show the AAPT’s involvement with two and four year institutions – from introductory to advanced lab programs. The Review Board agrees with the Committee that the past decade of pedagogical and technological lab progress has made the time ripe for a LabFocus II type conference, and we look forward to your recommendations. Finding one or two people to really write the proposal and direct the conference will be key. The Committee on Laboratories seems to work very positively with the Apparatus Committee and PIRA—and we applaud these interactions and the leaders involved.

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2004 Committee on Minorities in Physics


Mission 1. Seek more effective means of recruitment and retention of minority members of society in physics classes and physics related careers.

Miami Beach, Winter 2004

SEES (Students to Experience Engineering and Science) had one member of the COMP (D. Smith) to participate in its annual winter meeting science demonstrations for school children. D. Smith, introduced about 120 Miami-area middle school students to the surface tension of water via several hands-on experiments.

At the COMP 2004 winter meeting, copies were distributed of the diversity statement that grew out of the American Geophysical Union-sponsored Joint Scientific Society Conference on Diversity in the Earth and Space Sciences. The diversity statement was discussed in the COMP meeting and there were some criticisms of it, but no decision was made to endorse the statement. The key elements of the statement are, in part,

  • Make diversity a priority in the use of their organizational resources….
  • Endorse and help to implement key recommendations outlined in the Task Force on National Workforce Policies for Science and Engineering Report (National Science Board, 2003).
  • Coordinate efforts to foster diversity in Earth, ocean, atmospheric, space and physical sciences….

Albuquerque, Winter 2005

COMP has proposed a workshop for high school physics teachers of Native American and Hispanic students to be held at the winter meeting in Albuquerque, NM. Native American and Hispanics suffer chronically from low educational attainment compared to the rest of the United States. The proposed workshop will transmit new tools and knowledge to teachers that will help them to do a better job of serving these underserved populations. Fred Begay of Los Alamos National Labs has secured funding for the workshop, to be held on January 8th. AAPT is providing significant help with the logistics.

COMP is also sponsoring the session "Physics and Astronomy in Native American and Hispanic Cultures." Besides enlightenment of the AAPT members, this session will give teachers of these underrepresented populations new ways to make connections between science and the cultural heritage of their students.

Mission 2. Seek methods of aiding minority physicists to overcome barriers to career development.

Juan Burciaga attended a Project Kaleidoscope conference on diversity in October 2003 as a representative of the AAPT. The focus of the conference was what role could professional societies play in promoting diversity. Some conference attendees made these suggestions for the AAPT:

  • Work on changing the image of a bachelor’s degree in physics so that engineering firms and other large employers will look more favorably on physics graduates.
  • Prepare a booklet on diversity content for authors and publishers of textbooks.
  • Prepare a brochure on careers in physics (at the bachelors level) for middle and high school.
  • Focus on the recruitment and training of minority teachers.
  • Promote a more flexible, balanced criteria for tenure decisions so that those who work in outreach or mentoring can be given appropriate credit for their work

COMP has not responded to these suggestions.

Mission 3. Communicate to the AAPT membership and to the community at large the findings of the committee, through approved AAPT channels.

Sacramento, Summer 2004

COMP was a co-sponsor of the session "Pacific-Rim Women in Physics" with the Committee on Women in Physics. A highlight of the session was the talk by Yan-Lai Yan on a set of high-quality Power Point lectures on frontier physics that she has developed for students who have completed a university-level course in general physics in Shanghai, China.

"Physics Education in Africa," co-sponsored by COMP and the International Physics committee, was popular enough for two sessions thanks to Ken Cecire of Hampton University and other AAPT members who suggested speakers. One session highlight was a comparison of conditions in Zambia 40 years ago to conditions today.

Other COMP members have suggested scientists and engineers who are members of underrepresented groups to be included in the video series under development by James Stith, Vice President for Physics Resources at the American Institute of Physics, highlighting the work of individuals in all fields of science. The series is called Discoveries and Breakthroughs-Inside Science TV (DBIS). Some of the past work is at

COMP attendance is much better in summer than in winter (10 vs. 5), New committee members have been appointed recently whose terms expire in 2007. We expect that the new infusion will generate fresh ideas in helping the committee to reach its goals.

-Daniel M. Smith, Jr., Chair

Review Board Response

Sometimes one hears that the problems of diversity issues in physics are so overwhelming that one simply does not know where to start. Following some extraordinary recent work of COMP, this excuse for inaction has been taken away. The Project Kaleidoscope conference suggestions are especially practical, and it seems COMP could help prioritize them for the AAPT Board and make some quite specific suggestions for action. The importance of strengthening the career image of B.S. level physics for first generation college/university physics students is clear. M.S. and Ph.D’s will follow if that is the individual’s desire. Secondly, how can the AAPT help promote more flexible, balanced criteria for tenure decisions so that those who work in outreach or mentoring can be given appropriate credit for their work?

The national program work of the committee (and other co-sponsoring area committees) has been very strong. The program anticipated for Albuquerque is both creative and exciting and should singularly draw folks to this meeting. The Alaska meeting of 2006 may provide venues for further development of physics and physics education perspectives from Native Americans of that locale.

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2004 Committee on Physics in High Schools


The high school committee has had a very productive year and is anticipating many new and exciting challenges for the future. Committee meeting attendance is at an all time high, and we benefit greatly from the active participation of the friends of the committee and the support provided by the Executive Office staff and the Executive Board. The committee provides leadership in communication and support of high school teachers of physics and astronomy. Recognizing the rapidly changing needs of the high school community, the committee coordinates its efforts with many committees within AAPT and organizations outside of AAPT.

Ongoing projects for this year include many successful sessions, workshops and cracker barrels at national meetings, along with the popular Physics Photo Contest, Physics Video Contest, Share-A-Thon, assistance with the NSTA physics strand, and the Outstanding High School Student Certificate program. The high school committee is actively supporting the work of the comPADRE project and is again encouraging AAPT to feature the photo contest winners on the cover of TPT and to provide a 2005 AAPT calendar.

Some changes have been made in the Innovative High School Teacher Grant. The 2005 grants will be limited to projects promoting the World Year of Physics. Beginning next fall, proposals will only be accepted from members of AAPT. In addition to the cash award, the committee is discussing the idea of providing a year of free membership to winners, which could be used by the winner or given as a gift to a colleague.

The revision of the New Teacher Handbook is due in January 2005. Work has begun on our new publication dealing with the alignment of the Physics First program within the existing physics curriculum. The committee gathered valuable information in our sessions in Sacramento and will be looking at pros and cons of the program in our two follow-up sessions in Salt Lake City. Although AAPT is not endorsing Physics First, this booklet is to serve as a guide for teachers who are considering Physics First for their schools.

We continue to have concerns in the areas of teacher preparation, mentoring of new teachers and retention of retired teachers in AAPT. In our ongoing search for solutions to these problems, we are co-sponsoring sessions on teacher training with the Committee on Teacher Preparation, and we continue to provide input and seek assistance from the Committee on Concerns of Senior Physicists. We have begun to nominate one veteran teacher and one new teacher for committee membership each year with the aim of maintaining a balanced committee that serves the needs of all members of the high school community.

Long-range goals involve production of a document on physics content standards and a physics lab resource guide. We recognize the need for continued cooperation with AAPT committees, various science organizations, as well as state and national agencies to coordinate efforts on these documents and other ongoing projects of the committee.

-Lila M. Adair, Chair

Review Board Response

The Review Board commends this committee for supporting many projects that involve students as well as high school teachers, for attending to the top issues facing AAPT members from the high school community, and for surveying members about under utilized AAPT services.

The Review Board suggests the committee develop a specific time-line and responsible individual or group (perhaps sub committee) for the "long-rang goals" of the committee. This is particularly important for the development of documents (e.g., "Importance of the Laboratory," "High School Physics Curriculum," "Support for the Beginning Teacher") that the committee supports.

It would be helpful to identify members of the committee interested in the "Long-range goals ... "listed with the name and e-mail address of a contact. Similar suggestions are appropriate for New Teacher Handbook and Physics First efforts.

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2004 Committee on Physics in Pre-High School Education

The mission of the Committee for Physics in Pre-High School Education is threefold:

  1. Serve the teachers of K-8 students and improve the physics learned in grades K-8.
  2. Work with the college teachers whose students are the future teachers of children in grades K-8.
  3. Sponsor sessions and workshops on programs and curricular materials for pre-service teachers in grades K-8.

This committee must serve three diverse masters while attempting to achieve its mission. It must respond to the needs of K-8 teachers who are already in the field. The committee needs to provide assistance to pre-service teachers before they begin their practice. Finally we need to work with those institutions and instructors charged with developing the future teachers.

Fortunately the members and friends of the committee are enthusiastic and committed to accomplishing this threefold mission. Attendance has been good even with our usual 7:00 a.m. meetings.

In the last year the committee has proposed and conducted workshops, sessions and cracker-barrels intended to meet the wide range of needs that our mission requires. We have had success addressing some needs, yet feel frustrated when trying to meet others. We have worked with the evolving Committee on Teacher Preparation to organize popular sessions and cracker-barrels addressing topics in teacher preparation. Members of the committee were active in initiating an AAPT response to the possible limitations to hands-on science instruction in California. The committee has been able to help bring topics such as the effects of high stakes testing into discussion at AAPT meetings. We can feel somewhat satisfied with our efforts in these areas and we feel a commitment to continue in this direction. However we realize that we are only reaching Association members that attend national meetings with these efforts. We need to develop other methods to reach the rest of those we wish to serve.

We will continue to attempt to reach practicing pre-high school teachers at national meetings and provide worthwhile workshop experiences for them. We ask for ideas from the Board on how we can solve problems such as coordination with local schools and recruitment of local teachers. We are attempting to coordinate with the Committee for Science Education for the Public