2009 Summer Meeting Highlights


      Summer Meeting 2009 Highlights    


      Summer Meeting on the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Campus    


      The 2009 AAPT Summer Meeting was held on the campus of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, July 25-29. The campus provided a beautiful setting and practical venue for nearly 1,000 participants who attended the meeting. Myron Campbell and Candy Styrk, together with many students and faculty from the University of Michigan Physics Department were gracious hosts and worked tirelessly to facilitate a successful meeting. Supporting the theme, “Discovering the Universe: From Democritus and Galileo to Fundamental Particles and Cosmology,” attendees celebrated the International Year of Astronomy with viewings of the PBS documentary, “400 Years of the Telescope” and a display of the University of Michigan’s original Galileo Manuscript, a letter Galileo drafted explaining the usefulness of the telescope. The Manuscript was later used to analyze data and conclude that Galileo had discovered the moons of Jupiter.    


      The Summer Institute of the Rural PTRA Initiative was held in the UM Physics Department prior to the Summer Meeting. Participants included 80 Physics Teaching Resource Agents (PTRA) who attended an intensive week of workshops presented by their fellow PTRAs and other professional educators. The PTRA program is extending into more rural areas by establishing Rural Centers at colleges and universities throughout the United States with funding from a National Science Foundation grant.    


      The Topical Conference on Advanced Laboratories preceded the Summer Meeting on July 22- 25. The conference featured 17 Sessions, including vendor workshops, advanced lab demonstrations and posters. Participants in the conference included 155 Registrants and 15 Exhibitors.    


      About 215 graduate students and faculty attended the PERC2009 Conference at the end of the AAPT meeting. The Physics Education Research Conference (PERC) is designed to provide a format where Physics Education Researchers can share information and discuss a variety of physics education research issues. Poster sessions and breakout groups were utilized to encourage participation and aid in exchange of ideas. The conference organizers are publishing proceedings from the conference and additional information is available on the conference website http://www.compadre.org/per/conferences/2009/.    


      Workshop and Continuing Education Opportunities    

    There were 671 registrants for the 40 workshops and tutorial sessions that were offered during the two days prior to the paper presentations. Popular workshops included: Bringing the Universe into Your Classroom, Learning Physics While Practicing Science, Teaching Physics for the First Time, Haunted Physics Laboratories, NIPSTERS: Research Based Conceptual Reasoning Tasks for Introductory Mechanics, Energy in the 21st Century, The Physics of Supernovae, and Piaget, Beyond “Piaget.”

      Members of the Physics Instructional Research Association (PIRA) presented a two-day lecture demonstration workshop. Designed to cover the complete year of demonstrations needed for a typical physics course, the workshops included approximately 100 demonstrations. The list of demonstrations is online at www.pira-online.org.    


      No visit to Michigan would be complete without visits to the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University, the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village, and Detroit with its world-renowned Motown Historical Museum. Summer Meeting attendees enjoyed visiting them all.    


      The National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University is a world leader in rare isotope research and nuclear science education. NSCL scientists and researchers employ a wide range of tools for conducting advanced research in fundamental nuclear science, nuclear astrophysics, and accelerator physics.    


      Visitors at the Henry Ford Museum toured a variety of exhibits including Heroes of the Sky, an inspiring reflection on the people and stories from the first 40 years of American aviation and the Automobile in American Life, a look at the ways this invention has influenced and changed a century of life in America; Greenfield Village, an 80-acre step back in time that takes you back to the sights, sounds and sensations of America’s past.    


      Detroit, or Motor Town, is also home to Motown Music. Founded in 1985, the museum’s mission is to preserve the legacy of Motown Record Corporation and to educate and motivate people, especially youth, through exhibitions and programs that promote the values of vision, creativity and entrepreneurship. Celebrating 50 years of the Motown sound, the museum exhibits trace the roots of Motown’s remarkable story and chronicle its impact on 20th-century popular culture and musical styles.


      The Paper Sessions    


      The meeting offered 151 invited papers, 252 contributed papers, and 237 poster papers, organized into 105 sessions. David Saltzberg, physics consultant for “The Big Bang Theory” presented a very popular session, A Physicist Scattering on Hollywood. The committee on the Interests of Senior Physicists hosted Enabling Us All: The Broad Physics Legacy of H. Richard Crane. A number of well-attended sessions were devoted to pedagogical issues such as sessions entitled Giving More than One Test: A Closer Look at Physics Students’ Understanding and Reasoning, Reforming the Introductory Physics Course for Life Science Majors, Issues in Student Problem Solving (dedicated to the memory of Cornelius Bennhold), Particle Physics in High Schools, The Art and Science of Physics Teaching, and Teachers in Residence (TIR): Adding Reality to Physics Teacher Preparation Programs.    


      Award and Plenary Sessions    


      At Monday’s Ceremonial Session, Arthur Eisenkraft, University of Massachusetts-Boston, gave the Robert A. Millikan Medal Lecture, Physics for All: From Special Needs to Olympiads. Eisenkraft developed the Active Physics Curriculum Project and was one of the first supporters of the U.S. Physics Olympics Team. The Millikan Medal recognizes teachers who have made notable and creative contributions to the teaching of physics.    


      The Klopsteg Memorial Award was presented on Tuesday, July 28 to Lee Smolin, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, Canada, who delivered the Klopsteg Memorial Lecture, The Role of the Scientist as a Public Intellectual. The Klopsteg Award acknowledges outstanding communication of contemporary physics to the general public.    


      Deborah Roudebush, Oakton High School in Herndon, VA, recipient of the Excellence in Pre-College Physics Teaching Award, presented an entertaining and educational address, What Your Mother Never Told You About…Physics Teaching.    


      The Excellence in Undergraduate Physics Teaching Award was presented to Mario Belloni, Davidson College, Davidson, NC. His address, Using Technology to Increase Student Engagement Inside and Outside of the Classroom, opened our eyes and minds to the possibilities technology brings to the teacher’s toolbox.    


      Distinguished Service Citations were presented to Alan Gibson, Dave Maiullo, Bruce Mason, Mary Winn, and Mel Steinberg (posthumously).    


      The Symposium on Plasma Physics featured two well known physicists. John Goree from the University of Iowa's Department of Physics and Astronomy, spoke on The Electrical Charge and Motion of Objects Inserted into a Plasma. Cary Forest from the University of Wisconsin addressed Turbulent Liquid Metal Dynamo Experiments.    


      In the concluding plenary session K.C. Cole, author and professor at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism, spoke about the life of Frank Oppenheimer in her address, Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and the World He Made Up.


      Exhibits and Demos    


      The 2009 High School Physics Photo Contest was a very popular attraction with attendees voting on the top 100 semi-finalist photos and essays. The entries were conveniently located just outside of the main exhibit hall. Vernier Software & Technology, long-time sponsor of the photo contest, provided the prizes for the winners. View 2009 Photo Contest Gallery & Winners


      The exhibits were displayed in three separate halls where vendors displayed their products. Special events such as the Welcome Reception, Happy Hour, and an Ice Cream Social provided a good opportunity to meet colleagues and browse the exhibit halls. The poster sessions were displayed throughout the day, giving attendees more time to browse the presentations.    


      The AAPT Committee on Apparatus conducted the annual apparatus competition (View pictures and descriptions of the entries). The apparatus competition entries were on display during the meeting in the PIRA resource room. PASCO Scientific Company provides prizes for the apparatus competition.    


      In Conclusion    


      In spite of the summer thunderstorm, attendees at the Summer Picnic enjoyed a Carillon Bell Tower Concert and the “Open Mike” talents of gifted physicist musicians and comedians before heading out for the Demonstration Show. The Demonstration Show was open to the public and was a popular attraction for meeting attendees and local families. The show was interactive, offering many opportunities for children in the audience to participate in the demonstrations.    


      As the events of the 2009 Summer Meeting unfolded throughout the week, the overarching theme was that physics educators teach students, not physics, and they reach them one at a time. We send a huge thank you to all of the volunteers and sponsors who made the meeting in Ann Arbor so memorable and successful. Enjoy the memories through the Facebook photo album.