APS News

May 2009 (Volume 18, Number 5)

The Education Corner

PTEC Conference

The 2009 Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PTEC) Conference was held in Pittsburgh on March 13 and 14, 2009, with the theme of “Institutional Transformation: How do we change departments and universities to embrace the mission of preparing tomorrow’s teachers?” Over 100 physics and education faculty members, teachers, and professional society representatives attended workshops, panels, and talks by leaders in physics teacher preparation.

Among the most popular workshops were “Pedagogical content knowledge needed to teach physics,” led by Eugenia Etkina of Rutgers, who discussed the need for teachers to be familiar not just with physics content but also with physics-specific pedagogy; and “Facilitating change in undergraduate STEM,” given by Noah Finkelstein of the University of Colorado and Charles Henderson of Western Michigan University, who led a conversation on “the  need to problematize and improve our approaches to change.” Also well attended was a panel on “The university role in teacher preparation,” which was led by Howard Gobstein of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, and included the perspectives of a physics department chair, an arts and sciences dean, and a university provost.

PTEC is a joint project of the APS, the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), and the American Institute of Physics (AIP) to improve physics and physical science teacher preparation.
Gray arrow  PTEC Conference: Information and downloadable presentations

SPIN-UP Workshops

APS, AAPT, and AIP invite teams from physics departments to attend regional workshops to learn how to implement the findings of the 2003 Strategic Partnerships for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics (SPIN-UP) report. The goal of the workshops is to enable physics departments in a wide variety of institutions to build the departmental infrastructure that will produce long-term improvements in undergraduate physics programs and to enhance both the number of students studying physics and the quality of student learning.

The workshops will be held at the following locations:
  • Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI:  June 18-20, 2009
  • Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA:  July 10-12, 2009
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC:  September 11-13, 2009
  • Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ:  October 2-4, 2009
The Rutgers workshop will be targeted specifically toward departments that grant a Ph.D. in physics.The others address all departments, including those granting a Ph.D.
Gray arrow  SPIN-UP Regional Workshops

Advanced Laboratory Conference

AAPT, APS, and the Advanced Laboratory Physics Association are organizing a conference on the advanced laboratory. The conference will take place in Ann Arbor, Michigan on July 23-25, just before the Summer AAPT Meeting. This 2.5-day meeting will cover techniques, experiments, and curricular ideas for post-introductory undergraduate labs, whether they are independent or tied to a lecture course. The conference will include invited talks on a variety of topics, presentations by commercial vendors, and lots of opportunities for hands-on experiences with experimental equipment. Meeting participants will be able to present information about their own courses and experiments.
Gray arrow  Advanced Laboratory Conference: Conference and Registration Information

Graduate Education Report Published

The final report from the joint APS-AAPT conference “Graduate Education in Physics: Which Way Forward?” has been published. The report describes the findings of the conference, and provides a series of recommendations for physics departments, professional societies, and funding agencies to create an improved, more flexible, and more relevant graduate experience for all students. The conference, which took place in 2008 and grew out of the 2006 report of the joint APS-AAPT Task Force on Graduate Education in Physics, convened the Directors of Graduate Studies from 70 of the nation’s Ph.D.-granting institutions as well as representatives from professional societies, the National Science Foundation, the APS Forum on Graduate Student Affairs, and industry to discuss trends and practices in physics graduate education.
Gray arrow  Graduate Education in Physics: Which Way Forward? Report Format - PDF  (1MB)
Gray arrow  Graduate Education in Physics: Which Way Forward? Conference


Proposals to the NSF’s Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) are due are due May 21, 2009.
Gray arrow  NSF Website: Search on “ccli.”

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Editor: Alan Chodos

May 2009 (Volume 18, Number 5)

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Articles in this Issue
March Meeting Highlights Energy Storage, Generation
Supercomputers Simulate Stars, Cars, Hurricanes, and Blood
A Nanoscale Peek Inside the Cell
<em>60 Minutes</em> Got It Wrong
Evolution Stirs Tempest in Turkish Teapot
Harvard, APS Reconcile Copyright Policy
Doing Research with Mass Appeal Can Be a Double-edged Sword
Nanotech Advances Include Data Storage and Sharper Metal Tips
Letters to the Editor
The Back Page
Members in the Media
This Month in Physics History
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science
The Education Corner
Inside the Beltway