AAPT celebrates the wonder that is physics

27 January 2014

AAPT 2014 Winter mtg“The 2014 Winter Meeting in Orlando celebrated the wonder that is physics,” so begins AAPT communications and membership director Marilyn Gardner’s account of the AAPT meeting that took place January 5–9. More than 700 teachers and students attended for several days of workshops, contributed sessions, invited talks, posters, and topical discussions, and to walk the exhibit hall. 

Among the event highlights was the Richtmyer Memorial Lecture Award, presented to Sir Michael Berry for his communication of the beauty of quantum mechanics to broad audiences. “His lecture, ‘How Quantum Physics Democratized Music,’ was an entertaining and historic look at connections between physics and technological invention and aspects of human life, with examples ranging from music to the color of gold,” Gardner writes. Sir Michael Berry also engaged undergraduate students at the Society of Physics Students–hosted reception, sharing some funny and insightful adventures in physics and stories from his life. Students were delighted to hear about his work with colleague Nobel laureate Andre Geim. Berry and Geim share an Ig Nobel Prize for the levitation of frogs. 

Phillip Metzger, a NASA physicist and lab manager at Kennedy Space Center, spoke on “Preparing Physicists for the Industrial Revolution in Space.” Another highlight was the annual Symposium on Physics Education and Public Policy. Speakers discussed how educators might contribute to decisions about policies affecting physics and STEM education. AIP policy associate Aline McNaull spoke about the President’s 100Kin10 initiative, aimed at increasing the number of quality STEM teachers over the next decade. In response, the physics community has formed a coalition to discuss the role that universities and physics departments play in STEM teacher professional development. 

SPS poster sessionMany participated in the poster sessions, including the SPS Undergraduate Research and Outreach Poster Reception. SPS sponsored two undergraduate research sessions at the meeting, resulting in five outstanding student presentation awards. Five of the presenters were 2013 SPS interns, including invited talks by Nikki Sanford, detailing her work as a Mather Policy Intern, and SPS SOCK interns Nicole Quist and Caleb Heath.

Carrying out another tradition, SPS worked with AAPT to host an outreach event as part of the Students Exploring Engineering and Science (SEES) Program for local sixth- to eighth-grade students from low-income Orlando public schools. Nearly 100 students turned out for the event, offering four hands-on stations that dealt with force, motion, light, and energy.

Stuents at SPS reception at AAPT

For more AAPT meeting highlights, see the AAPT website.