Archived Newsletters

Renew Your Membership

Members and friends of the Forum on Education are reminded that the new APS policy requires that they select the forum or forums they wish to join (or renew) with each membership renewal. Do not forget to check off the Forum on Education, to maintain your membership and support its activities. The first two forum memberships are free.

The Editor's Corner

Editorial: Boundaries

Stan Jones

Remember those boundary value problems from your E&M course, the ones we also ran into in Classical and Quantum Mechanics? I loved those things. Really, I did. A well-defined boundary value problem has a unique answer, one you can find by standard techniques, and one whose validity you can easily check at the end. There are many boundaries in the real world. Some are physical boundaries, some are psychological, some are bureaucratic, some are sociological. Some are real, and some are imagined. Some we construct to make life simpler for ourselves, or to avoid the uncertainties beyond that border. There is a boundary to our "comfort" zone, and until we cross that boundary, we do not grow. I want to talk about boundaries I see in our system of Physics Education, and how some of these boundaries can truly get in the way of our goal of giving our students, and the public, the very best.

Some of the physical boundaries that exist in Physics Education are the walls of our departments and buildings, or the confines of our company. Industrial scientists who want to have an impact on education are finding ways to reach beyond their institutions - by going out into the public schools; by bringing the public into their outreach programs; by joining organizations such as the Forum on Education. Physicists at universities are finding they can learn from collaborations with other scientists and engineers, and that education faculty can tell us something about how students learn. And they too are reaching out beyond the confines of the campus. The physical boundaries here are well-defined: it is clear what is inside our department or company, and where the outside world begins. The issue is how we define "our job." We can't make the mistake of allowing these boundaries to become barriers to our involvement in the larger world. There is a great need for greater public understanding of science, and we serve not only the public, but ourselves as well if we venture beyond our "walls' to make our contribution.

In Physics Education at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I also see some boundary problems that to me are artificially set up; problems where the boundaries are not well-defined, and perhaps do not exist at all. They are boundaries that people have set up in order to make physics and physics education a well-defined problem. I can think of three such boundaries. They are the boundary between pure and applied physics; between physics and other disciplines (say, chemistry); and between teaching and research. These boundaries started disappearing a long time ago in our discipline, but remnants remain, and for some educators they continue to get in the way.

In graduate training, we must decide what classroom experiences, and what research experience, to give our students. What role should applications of physics play? What is pure, and what is applied physics, is not always easy to identify. Many of the interesting research problems just happen to have a real-world significance; topics like materials, atmospheric physics, optics, the many aspects of condensed matter physics, magnetic resonance, and so on. Many physicists have learned that there is no particular virtue in avoiding a problem just because it has applications. As funding sources for research have evolved, many scientists have recognized the wealth of interesting new physics discoveries waiting to be made in supposedly "applied" areas. In a sense, we have found that the need to define a problem as pure or as applied is no longer significant. From an educational point of view, the fact that research has an application does not necessarily diminish its value as physics. Our graduate curricula must recognize and incorporate this reality.

In exploring the interesting properties of matter in its varied forms, physicists have found common interests with chemists, engineers, mathematicians, biologists, and more. To say that a problem is physics and not, say, chemistry, is often a distinction we cannot make. Techniques are also blurred. There are some ways of approaching a problem that are clearly physics, some that are clearly chemistry, but the importance of making this distinction has faded, if indeed it ever was important. Insisting, from a purist point of view, that the distinction be made can interfere with our ability to recognize and address very fundamental and intriguing questions. And many problems require an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach if we want to truly understand them. Physics is a discipline where change is rapid and exciting. As educators, we must always be open to this same rate of change. If what we do changes rapidly, what we teach, and how we teach, must also be flexible enough to change. We must be ready to provide our students an introduction to the new interdisciplinary ways of thinking. We must also be ready to help them explore problems that may not be as clearly "physics" as we may have thought was necessary.

The third boundary I listed above is that between teaching and research. I don't think I need argue very hard that one of the finest ways to learn is by doing, and that whenever students can become part of a research project everyone benefits. Research can be teaching. And teaching can be research. We should be learning from our students: how they think, how they understand or misunderstand the principles we discuss. In so doing we ourselves increase our understanding. And as we learn how students learn, we should be changing how we teach in order to be more effective. The debate over the relative priority of teaching and research, which has lasted through the ages, is based on a false dichotomy; the two go hand in hand.

I would argue this: whether or not boundaries exist, increasingly it is those who go beyond the boundaries who are making the changes in this world. Willingness to ignore boundaries, whether real or of the mind, marks the creative person. Defense of the boundaries is often a decision which binds one to the past.

In this issue there are several articles which highlight the blurring of boundaries. J.W. Harrell describes a new approach to the introductory course, a coordinated multi-departmental effort. Alexis Wynne relates her learning experience at an NSF REU site last summer. Mort Kagan compares the industrial to the academic life in a personal reminiscence. Bob Williams describes the outreach programs at the U. of Illinois. And so on. You can find elements of reaching across boundaries in much of this issue.

(webmaster's note: A couple of the articles referred to here were not contained in the electronic copies received for posting. We are attempting to get copies.)

Election Results

Congratulations to the newly elected officers of the Forum on Education. The results are:

  • Vice Chair: Andrea Palounek;
  • Forum Representative to the APS Council (Councillor): James J. Wynne
  • Member-at-Large of the Executive Committee: Barbara Gross Levi
  • Member-at-Large of the Executive Committee with Joint APS/AAPT Affiliation: David G. Haase

573 ballots were cast.

A Vassar Girl Does Physics In The Mid-West

Alexis Wynne
Vassar College

The night after I decided to participate in the REU at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, some friends of mine and I were sitting around in my room trying to figure out where Nebraska is. There were four Vassar girls in one room, and not one of us knew. This was quite daunting, since I was about to spend the summer there and would have to come back and say, "I spent my summer in Nebraska," and everyone would say, "Nebraska? Where is that again?" But, then I thought about it and decided that I would instead come back and say, "I spent my summer doing physics research in Nebraska," and this would certainly cause the response to be, "Physics? Wow!" -- one which I am already used to hearing.

So, I went to Nebraska, and it was flat and hot and people often listened to Garth Brooks, but I had a fabulous summer. I had the opportunity to do things that aren't available at Vassar. I worked in a big lab with a graduate student and learned what life as a physics grad student is really like. The laboratory environment was exciting and challenging. I met other undergraduates from around the country who had similar interests. This is quite different from Vassar, where most students study humanities, and, as soon as you say the word "electron", their eyes glaze over. And I learned a ton of physics and made some great friends.

I had my own project to work on, which gave me an opportunity to challenge myself and apply what I had learned in my courses. I worked on an experiment whose purpose was to understand the "chiral dissymmetry of the terrestrial biosphere." Or, in English, we were attempting to understand why biotic molecules (e.g., sugars, DNA) are chirally asymmetric or "one-handed". The goal of the experiment was to produce a beam of spin polarized electrons and look for spin-dependent scattering in a vapor of chirally asymmetric molecules. I worked mostly on the front end optics of the experiment, trying to produce a beam of laser light that would change its polarization without changing its intensity. I had taken a course in optics at Vassar, and it was fascinating to see practical applications of all the equations and theory I had studied.

REU is a wonderful program because it gives students like me the opportunity to do research at a large university, meet people with similar interests, think seriously about graduate school, and make some money. I am planning on participating in another REU somewhere else this summer, and I encourage students, especially those at small, four year colleges, to do the same. It really is a great opportunity.

The National Science Foundation provides support for undergraduates to join research projects during the summer. The principal vehicle for such support is the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program. REU "Sites" exist in all fields of science, mathematics, and engineering. Each Site operates for about ten weeks and consists of a group of undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution.

Complete List

The NSF Divisions of Physics, Materials Research, and Astronomical Sciences support a total of over 100 such Sites. For more information on the NSF-REU Program, contact Rolf M. Sinclair, Program Director for Special Programs, Division of Physics, NSF, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington VA 22230.

(webmaster's note: See the Directory of Undergraduate Research Opportunities for information on a wide variety of other such programs.)

Field Testers Needed for a Chart Addressing Nuclear Physics

The Contemporary Physics Education Project (CPEP) is a non-profit organization of scientists and teachers working together to bring contemporary physics into the classroom. CPEP has a proven track record with previous Wall Chart projects: the Particle Physics Chart, which has sold 100,000 copies since 1988, and the new Fusion Energy Wall Chart, available since mid-1996.

A Nuclear Science Wall Chart is being developed as the third in this series, to complement the former two. Development of the new chart is being supported by the American Physical Society's Division of Nuclear Physics, the Mike Nitschke Foundation, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The Nuclear Science Wall Chart and accompanying materials would cover the basics of nuclear science, give a taste of contemporary research in the field, and present applications of nuclear science to everyday life.

Field test sites are urgently needed to help us improve the situation of nuclear ignorance by developing the chart as well as evaluating curriculum material for chemistry and physics classrooms at the high school and introductory college level.

Teachers who join the project as field testers will receive a packet with the following material in early April:

  • a poster-sized copy of the Nuclear Science Wall Chart
  • a classroom set of student charts
  • a preliminary copy of a Teachers' Guide, which will include additional materials and references
  • sample two-week lesson plans for high school chemistry and physics classrooms
  • a detailed questionnaire

We will ask field testers to use the chart and accompanying material in their classrooms before the end of this school year, and return the questionnaire by June, so that we can incorporate the results into a final version of the chart we hope will be published in 1998. Detailed instructions will be included in the packet.

For more information, contact Dr. Peggy McMahan at (510)-486-5980 or write her at MS-88, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, 1 Cyclotron Rd., Berkeley, CA 94720. 

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Physics Outreach at the University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign

Bob Williams
The University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign

The Physics Department at the University of Illinois has initiated a number of outreach activities that may be of interest to other departments. The following is taken from the Physics Department newsletter.

The faculty, staff and students continue to donate their time to the Department's Partnership Illinois effort. Our goal is to share the concepts and excitement of physics with students and teachers from K-12. We show that physics not only lies at the core of modern technology, but is also accessible, and that it can be fun. In 1996, the Physics Department Partnership Illinois program completed its first three years. Since 1993, we have offered monthly sessions with researchers in the Saturday Physics Honors Program for selected Central Illinois high school seniors, a traveling Physics Van Show, and a series of physics workshops for teachers of grades K through 12.

Physics Van Show
Almost 6,000 children and 250 teachers in Central Illinois and inner Chicago have enjoyed the 63 Physics Van shows between the program's inception in the spring of 1994 and the spring of 1996. We have received hundreds of "Thank you" letters inviting the Van to return and asking questions about the experiments. In 10 years, we hope some future physics undergraduates will remember the Van as an experience that made them consider looking at physics as their future profession. To get a better grasp on the science of Physics Van demonstrations, elementary school teachers asked for Physics Van sessions for teachers. Assistant Professor Mats Selen, the mentor of the Van program, gave a series of three workshops for teachers, Fun with Physics, and the 90 spaces available over the three-week series were filled immediately. The undergraduate students who staff the Van program consider it one of the better parts of their University of Illinois experience. This gave Selen the idea to propose a University Discovery Course for freshmen on how to teach science to children. The Discovery courses, limited to 20 students, were introduced at the UIUC campus to help freshmen integrate into campus life and to meet the faculty. We hope to bring into this course future teachers and other undergraduates, not only physics majors. The course was a great success. Each student prepared a demonstration and the class gave a show to a 3rd grade class of the Leal Elementary School in Urbana. Some of the undergraduates liked the course so much that they joined the Physics Van program crew. The Van program has generated interest at other physics departments from California to Israel. Selen received a 1995 Young Presidential Faculty Fellow Award for his research and outreach activities. While President Clinton was in California during the Award ceremonies, Selen left a Physics Van t-shirt for him with the members of the Cabinet attending the ceremony.

Cyber Club
This year, we started Cyber Club, an after-school math program for disadvantaged (mostly minority) middle school students, led by Prof Alfred Hubler. The kids learned quite sophisticated middle school math skills, and they have a lot of fun using Cyberprof, an interactive educational tool based on Netscape, which was developed by Prof Hubler. Cyberprof is used by a growing number of courses at the U of Illinois. The Urban League is working with us on the possible extension of such programs to sites in Illinois urban areas.

Saturday Honors Program
Last year, Professor Paul Goldbart succeeded Professor David Hertzog as the director of the Saturday Physics Honors Program. The 1995-96 sessions of the Saturday Physics Honors Program started with the discussion of "Social Activities of Atoms" by Professor Murray Gibson, and included discussion of "Chaos: the Science of Non-Elephants," by the Department Head, Professor David Campbell, and "Never be Lost Again: the Global Positioning System," by Professor Jeremiah Sullivan. Professor Goldbart widened the scope of the series by inviting Dr. Ed Seidel (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) to present "No Escape from Black Holes;" Professor Margaret Meixner (Astronomy) to show "Cosmic Collisions: Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9's Impact on Jupiter;" Professor Wang-Ping Chen (Geology) to discuss "Active Mountain Building and Earthquakes;" and Professor John Walsh (Meteorology and Atmospheric Science) to talk about "Severe and Unusual Weather: The Roles of Science and Technology." The Department has accumulated a library of the videotapes of the lectures which are available to be checked out. Attending high school students gave us wonderful feedback. For instance, they would like for the program to be offered every Saturday instead of once a month. We wish this were possible.

Teachers Workshops
In addition to the Fun with Physics workshops, teachers attended five other physics workshops organized by the Department during the 1995-96 academic year. These included: a hands-on workshop on "Liquid Crystals, A Twisted State of Matter" by Dr. Gregory Crawford of Xerox PARC, Palo Alto; a tutorial in modern astrophysics on "Exotic Objects of the Cosmos: Neutron Stars and Black Holes" by the Department's Professor Frederick Lamb; two Operation Physics workshops led by Mr. Tom Holbrook, a teacher at the University High School in Normal, Ill.; and a "Hands-on Inquiry-based Demonstration and Discussion of the Systemic Change in Elementary Science Education" by Dr. Ramon E. Lopez, Director of Outreach and Education programs of the American Physical Society. The teacher workshops are coordinated by Dr. Inga Karliner, a research physicist with the High Energy Physics Group. Partially as a result of this and due partially to our current outreach programs, our contacts with the community are expanding. The campus office of the Illinois Cooperative Extension Service has worked with Physics on some of the teachers workshops. Teachers from the Urbana School District receive professional credit for attending our workshops.

Also, together with our colleagues in the College of Education, we are keeping alive a publication started by world renowned science education pioneer Jack Easley. Easley researched and answered children's questions in his Science Network News (SNN) newsletter. After he died in December 1994 we helped to keep the SNN going. Our first entry, on gravitational waves, was researched at Easley's request by Professor Jon Thaler. The SNN has since come on the web, and its excerpts are distributed by the Pyramid, newsletter of the Teachers Academy for Mathematics and Science in Chicago. Professors Michael Weissman and Thaler, together with Karliner continue to answer questions. If you have questions, comments, or would like to help, write to Partnership Illinois Coordinator at the Physics Department, call (217) 333-0571.

Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

I am a research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. One of my interests is pre-college science education -- which led me to initiate PUMAS, a new on-line journal aimed at pre-college teachers. It offers working scientists an opportunity to contribute to pre-college education with a relatively small commitment of effort, and with a reward that includes a literature citation, as well as satisfaction. We urgently need contributors, so we are trying to get the word out to as many scientists as possible. I'd be grateful if you could post a message about PUMAS, such as the announcement below, in your newsletter. Also, feel free to forward the announcement to others you think might enjoy participating in PUMAS.

Ralph Kahn

PUMAS Editor

Announcing: The Practical Uses of Math And Science (PUMAS) Web Site, the On-line Journal of Math and Science Examples For Pre-College Education. Scientists are invited to help K-12 teachers enrich their presentation of math and science topics, by contributing one-page examples based on their interests and experience. All examples are peer-reviewed; once accepted, they are citable references, in a refereed journal of science education. We are currently collecting examples, and anticipate opening the Site to general users in Spring or Summer, 1997, once the collection contains a number of entries. K-12 teachers and scientists are also needed now, to serve in the pool of PUMAS reviewers. The on-line "Participant Volunteer/Update form" can be found from the Navigation portion of the Help page, or from the hyperlink at the top of the PUMAS Examples Search page.

To the Editor:

I am a member of The American Physical Society and APS Forum on Education. I teach physics and also I am the head of the Physical Science Department at Arkansas Tech University.

Several articles on the alliances across the country were published in the fall 1995 issue of the Forum on Education. During the fall of 1994 a Science Alliance was organized on the campus of Arkansas Tech University, and since then it has evolved into a forum for the exchange of ideas on education among educators at different levels in the Arkansas River Valley area.

To share ideas with educators from other states, and also, to exemplify the types of activities favored by the majority of our members, I decided to send this letter with the enclosed material for your consideration for publication in the spring 1997 issue of the Forum on Education. I realize that our Alliance is not strictly a physics alliance; however, a background on the organization of our alliance, its evolution, and the choice of activities can be valuable for society members who might be interested in organizing an alliance.

To provide enough information and to allow for your choice and consideration, I have enclosed: a background on the organization and evolution of our Alliance, and three letters of invitation (announcements)* from different meetings during the last three years. The letters of invitation also contain a sample of activities suggested for consideration by the members of our alliance.

I am grateful for your consideration of the enclosed material for publication in the Forum on Education. In addition to serving as a reference to other society members, the publication of this material can boost our alliance members morale and dedication in pursuit of their volunteer activities.

If you need additional information, please feel free to contact me at my office (501) 968-0340. Thank you.

Ralph Kahn

Mostafa Hemmati, Head
Department of Physical Sciences
Arkansas Tech University
Russellville, Arkansas 72801


Middle Level/Science and Math Interdisciplinary Alliance

In the fall of 1994, during a conversation between Mr. Danny Taylor, Superintendent of the Russellville School District and Dr. Mostafa Hemmati, Professor of Physics at Arkansas Tech University, the need for better communication between the district science teachers and Arkansas Tech science faculty was discussed. During the conversation, a meeting was arranged between the Arkansas Tech University science faculty and Russellville School District science teachers.

Drs. Hemmati and Stoltzfus, faculty members at the Arkansas Tech University School of Physical and Life Sciences and both members of the Arkansas Tech Middle Level Alliance at that time, perceived a Science Alliance as the best format to achieve the needed contacts and communication. Arkansas Tech University's previously existing Middle Level Alliance was organized by Dr. Elizabeth Salmeri and Dr. Patricia Roach, both Arkansas Tech University Education Department faculty members. With assistance from the Office of the Academic Alliances at Henderson State University, an organizational meeting of a Science Alliance was arranged. The people notified of the meeting included: area school district science teachers, Arkansas Tech science faculty, Arkansas Tech Education faculty, and the participants of the Arkansas Tech University Middle Level Alliance.

Evolution of the Alliance has been a dynamic process. In ensuing meetings ideas for different formats were discussed. Subsequently, and in an effort to improve the integration of science and mathematics in the area schools, the organizational base was expanded and the organization renamed the Middle Level/Science and Math Interdisciplinary Alliance. During the last two years the mailing list has grown to also include: Arkansas Tech University Math Department faculty, participants of the Science Crusade classes, and school districts as far away as Fort Smith and Conway, Arkansas.

The announcement letters have evolved to also serve as a short newsletter. Each year, a variety of activities are included on the agenda for discussion. The activities most desired by the majority of the members are planned for the follow-up meetings. Three invitation letters, with a list of suggested activities are enclosed. The Arkansas Tech University faculty members not only have played a crucial role in organizing the Alliance, but they have played an active role in conducting the activities of the Alliance.


September 24, 1996

To: Members of the Science and Math/lnterdisciplinary Alliance
From: Planning Committee: Mostafa Hemmati, Patricia Roach, and Dwight Stoltzfus
Subject: Invitation to Middle Level/Science and Math lnterdisciplinary Alliance Meeting
Date and Time: Tuesday, Octo6er 15, 5:30 p m
Place: McEver Hall room 204

Pizza will be served
The last Alliance activity was on May 4, 1996. Dr. Gagen, Associate Professor of Biology at Arkansas Tech University led a fish collection expedition to the Illinois Bayou. The group used seines to collect a wide variety of minnows, suckers, and very colorful sunfish and darters. Dr. Gagen also discussed how these fish fit into the ecosystem. Those who participated had a good time. Dr. Gagen has had the pictures taken on the field trip developed, and he will have them available for viewing during the up-coming meeting.

The first fall 1996 Alliance meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, October 15. The meeting will take place in McEver Hall, Room 204 at 5:30 p.m.. Dr. Richard Cohoon, Dean of the School of Physical and Life Sciences, and Professor of Geology at Arkansas Tech University will make a presentation entitled "MINERALS OF ARKANSAS: An Electronic Database." The following is a brief introduction to Dr. Cohoon's presentation.

The Minerals of Arkansas: An Electronic Database (MINARK) is a compilation of information concerning all of the mineral species known to occur in Arkansas as of March 1996. The Database was prepared by John D. McFarland and J. Michael Howard of the Arkansas Geological Commission. The Database has been designated to facilitate referencing specific information on minerals occurring in Arkansas and indexing minerals that match certain physical properties.

To: Members of the Science and Math/lnterdisciplinary Alliance
From: Mostafa Hemmati and Elizabeth Salmeri
Subject: Invitation to Science and Math/lnterdisciplinary Alliance Meeting
Date and Time: May 10, 5:30 p.m.
Place: McEver Hall room 2

Pizza will be served
You are invited to attend the Science and Math/Interdisciplinary Alliance meeting . The main agenda item will be the discussion of the role and scope of the Alliances concerning the joint academic activities between Arkansas Tech University and area public schools. For example, joint activities could include:

  1. Organizing interdisciplinary (Science and Math along with English, Social Studies and Fine Arts) fairs.
  2. Forming partnerships with schools and/or districts to develop interdisciplinary curriculum and teaching methodology.
  3. Organizing and sponsoring conferences, such as: Arkansas-Oklahoma-Kansas Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers Meeting to be held in October of 1995.
  4. Organizing staff development workshops.
  5. Investigating in-state, national, and international opportunities for teacher summer studies.

Another item to be discussed will be the formation of a steering council to direct the activities of the Alliances. This steering council will be composed of both public school and Arkansas Tech educators. Educators who are not yet members are encouraged to attend.

APS/FEd-Sponsored Sessions at the April Meeting

Be sure to catch the FEd (co-) sponsored sessions at the April APS/AAPT meeting:

Session AA1, FED, DPF, AAPT, DAMOP: Frontier in Physics.
Thursday evening, 20:00, North Salon, Renaissance

  • 20:00 AA1.01 Recent Theory and Experiment for Plasmas with a Single Sign of Charge (From Coulomb Crystals to 2D Turbulence an Vortex Crystals). T.M. O'Neil (UCSD)
  • 20:36 AA1.02 Duality, Spacetime, and Quantum Mechanics Edward Witten (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ)

Session A4. FED, FPS: Trends in Federal Support of Science Education. 
Friday Morning, 08:00, Auditorium, Renaissance

  • 08:00 A4.01 Status of Federal Agency Support for K-12 and Undergraduate Math/Science Education Programs Richard Stephens (Science Education Consultant, 8304 Brewster Drive, Alexandria, VA 22308-2106)
  • 08:36 A4.02 A Congressional Perspective on Federal Funding for Science Education Tom Weimer (Staff Director, Subcommittee on Basic Research, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives, B-374 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515)
  • 09:12 A4.03 An Agency Perspective on Federal Funding for Science Education Jean E. Vanski (Deputy Director for Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education, Directorate for Education and Human Resources, National Science Foundation)
  • 09:48 A4.04 Federal Funding and the Non-Profit Professional Societies: A Relationship of Missions Gerald Wheeler (Executive Director, National Science Teachers Association)

10:24 A4.05 Panel and Audience Discussion Rush Holt, Moderator (Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory)

Session C4. AAPT, FED: Research in Physics Education at the Introductory Level and Beyond
Friday afternoon, 14:30, Auditorium, Renaissance

  • 14:30 C4.01 Evaluation of an Integrated Curriculum in Physics, Mathematics, Engineering, and Chemistry Robert Beichner (North Carolina State University)
  • 15:06 C4.02 Making Connections Between Physics and Engineering: An Example From Mechanics Paula Heron (University of Washington)
  • 15:42 C4.03 Identifying and addressing student difficulties with mathematics when learning physics Richard Steinberg (University of Maryland)
  • 16:18 C4.04 Identifying student conceptual and reasoning difficulties with relativity Stamatis Vokos (University of Washington)
  • 16:54 C4.05 Student Misconceptions on Classical Issues at the Boundary of Quantum Mechanics Edward Redish (University of Maryland)
Session E3. AAPT, FED, DCOMP: Using Computers to Teach Quantum Mechanics.

Saturday morning, 08:00, Central Salon, Renaissance

  • 08:00 E3.01 Computer Algebra in Quantum Classrooms James Feagin (California State University- Fullerton)
  • 08:36 E3.02 Quantum Mechanics Simulations in CUPS Project-Classroom Applications Maria Dworzecka (George Mason University)
  • 09:12 E3.03 Fireflies, LEDs, and STMs: Hands-on Quantum Mechanics for Non-science Students Dean Zollman (Kansas State University)
  • 09:48 E3.04 Using Computers in Teaching Introductory Level Quantum Mechanics at Illinois State University K.R. Karim (Illinois State University)
  • 10:00 E3.05 Computer Projects for Senior Level Quantum Mechanics Qichang Su (Department of Physics, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4560)
  • 10:12 E3.06 Using the Internet to teach Quantum Mechanics Marianne Breinig (The University of Tennessee)
Session M2. AAPT, FED: National Science Education Standards: What Do They

Mean for the Physics Community?
Monday morning, 08:00, Central, Renaissance

  • 08:00 M2.01 Creating a Revolution in Science Education: The National Standards and Scientists Bruce Alberts (National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC)
  • 08:36 M2.02 National Science Standards: What Do They Mean for the Physics Community? James H. Stith (Department of Physics, Ohio State University, 174 W. 18th Ave, Columbus, OH 43210)
  • 09:12 M2.03 Pitfalls in the Science Standards Jay M. Pasachoff (Astronomy Department, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267)
  • 09:48 M2.04 Science Education Standards: An International Perspective Graham Orpwood (Faculty of Education, York University, 4700 Keele Street, North York, Ontario,Canada, M3J 1P3)
  • 10:24 M2.05 Panel and Audience Discussion Helen Quinn, Moderator (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center)

APS Centennial

The APS is planning to celebrate its centennial in Atlanta in 1999. There will be Nobel Laureates galore; there will be a wall chart; there will be lectures; there will be symposiums on the past, present and future of all kinds of physics. The FEd has been asked to contribute ideas to the centenary planning committee for celebrating and highlighting physics education. The membership is invited to communicate with Charles Holbrow with ideas for making this a meaningful celebration.

Here are some ideas:

Displays Relevant to the History of Physics Education

  • A display and/or review of classic textbooks of physics and how they have changed in style and content over the past 100 years. Exhibit a sequence of undergraduate or graduate texts
  • Exams from introductory physics then and now
  • Ph.D. qualifying exams then and now
  • Demos of historical lab experiments and/or lecture demonstrations.
  • Exhibit a series of apparatuses showing their evolution for some particular subject. Possible subjects:
  • radioactivity (centenary 1996)
  • electron -- electronics (centenary 1997)
  • low temperatures
  • accelerators
  • (These could be prepared by or sponsored by the particular APS divisions to which they are most relevant.)
  • Something on styles and format of teaching physics and their evolution in the past century

Contemporary Physics Education

  • Poster session on the outreach programs of major physics laboratories in the US
  • Recent changes in the content and presentation of physics education
  • Physics education at different levels
  • Role of the APS in physics education today

Sociology of Physics (with emphasis on education)

  • What sort of people were physicists then compared with now?
  • Who taught physics then and now?
  • Who studied physics then and now?
  • Where were America's centers of physics education then and now?

Devote at least one of the centenary symposiums to physics education. Suggestions for speakers are invited.

Wall Chart
The wall chart should contain items relevant to education in physics. Include succinct presentations or iconic representations of the most important of the above ideas and themes.

Poster sessions
Have one or more poster sessions on physics education. Possible topics:

  • Reforms then and now
  • History of the undergraduate and graduate physics syllabus
  • Physics education of and for the general public
  • Physics ideas that have become part of our general culture

Send further ideas to Charles Holbrow, liaison between the FEd and the Centenary Planning Committee.
Fax: 315-824-7187 | Phone: 315-824-7206 | Mailing address: Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY 13346.