Physics InSight is a new APS multimedia project that will inform and excite undergraduates about careers and opportunities in physics. It involves a series of slide shows designed to be shown in venues frequented by potential physics majors, such as hallway displays in university science buildings.
One of InSight’s main purposes is to expose students to a range of exciting contemporary physics research areas. The October 2009 edition features research on “relic neutrinos” from the Big Bang, the acoustical properties of the violin, and laser-based techniques to develop new treatments for injuries. Along with images of research projects, InSight includes photos of and information about prominent research scientists. Links for more information are provided on each slide.
InSight also profiles so-called “hidden physicists,” who have jobs outside academia. For example, the most recent edition highlights a medical facility manager, a wind energy engineer, and an astronaut, all of whom have degrees in physics. “Physics professors are very knowledgeable about academic career paths, but are often less aware of the other jobs out there that are also available to physics degree recipients,” says Crystal Bailey, Education and Careers Program Manager at APS, who manages the InSight project. “InSight is designed to inform students about physics careers that are possible at all stages of the degree path.”
In addition, InSight provides information about opportunities for undergraduates, including Future Physicist Days at APS meetings, summer internships with the Society of Physics Students, and APS Minority Scholarships.
“One of the things we did to make the InSight shows more useful is make them open-source,” says Bailey. “We encourage faculty to add their own slides and highlight their department’s research activities and programs.”
Kevin Giovanetti, a faculty member at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, is an early adopter of the slide show. He says, “We have InSight on display in our building’s entry way, and I enjoy seeing it as I enter each morning. It receives a lot of traffic and is a great way of advertising physics. We merge the APS show with some local news.”
“Physics InSight is part of APS’s efforts to double the number of undergraduate physics majors,” says Theodore Hodapp, Director of Education and Diversity at APS. “By providing information on career opportunities and programs directly to undergraduates, we are hoping to bring in students who in the past might not have given much thought to studying physics.”