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RE: Minutes of TheoryNet meeting at Roxbury Latin

Hi all

Thanks Rick for writing down notes of the meeting.  
I am quite pleased with the way things are proceeding.
Since all circumstances are quite different there is of course
no "right way" to do this but it will be good to notice what 
works and does not in particular situations.   I will make
a major effort to attend the August meeting. 

I think already lots have been accomplished.
Let me know if there is anything I can do that might be


-----Original Message-----
From: Dower, Rick
To: theorynet cosmos phy tufts edu
Sent: 3/13/04 1:47 PM
Subject: Minutes of TheoryNet meeting at Roxbury Latin

Hi TheoryNet participants,

  Here are some minutes from our meeting at Roxbury Latin this morning.

  Darien Wood was working at Fermilab, but he and I talked by phone. He
mentioned that processing the procurement request for the video
projectors for high school classrooms is proceeding, though slower than
originally anticipated. He will place an order for cloud chamber
apparatus next week. He sent his regards to those present. Scott Carlson
(Gloucester HIgh School), Ken Olum (Tufts), and Shiraz Minwalla
(Harvard) could not attend.
  Jesus Hernandez (Lawrence H.S.), Mike Fetsko( Braintree H.S.), Ken
Rideout (Swampscott H.S.), Rick Dower (Roxbury Latin School), Ami Hanany
(MIT), Albion Lawrence (Brandeis), and Tomasz Taylor (Northeastern)
participated in the discussion.

    DIscussion of theorist visits:
  Jesus described Shiraz's visits to his classes at Lawrence H.S. with
great enthusiasm. Shiraz arrived for classes that occurred at the end of
the school day and talked for an hour in class, then stayed for another
hour answering questions after class. During his second visit he talked
to the the astronomy class about quantum mechanics and its relation to
structure of stars and structure of the universe. Students were very
intrigued by his presence and his insights. Another two or three visits
are planned.

  Mike gave Ken Olum a copy of his syllabus and text book for the
courses two of the courses he teaches. After the initial visit to
observe the classroom, Ken stepped in to teach a section of the
Accelerated Physics and a section of AP Physics. He did a great job of
connecting a specific topic related to  the curriculum to more exotic
features of physics theory. Students were fascinated by the connections
and by the exotic material. Ken will return in April. Mike mentioned the
students' fascination with seeing someone other than their own teacher
involved with using physics to understand the world.

  Ami's first visit to Ken Rideout's AP class occurred yesterday. He
gave a talk in that class about ideas in quantum mechanics. In previous
visit to other classes Ami held a two-hour question and answer session
with a mixed (junior-senior) group of students. He often asked them
questions to gauge their level of background and understanding before
continuing with his responses to questions. Ken said that his students
got a sense of the dymanic development of ideas in physics - a struggle
to understand nature, not just putting numbers in textbook formulas. Ami
said that students wanted to see him write an exotic equation on the
board. He obliged with the Markov equation and led tham through some of
its interpretation. Ami mentioned the problem of following the trail of
one student's questions and leaving many other students in the dust.

  Rick said that Tomasz visited to observe his clases in January and
returned yesterday to talk to three 40-minute classes and answer some
questions they had asked. (Rick had sent Tomasz a list of questions from
his 12th graders in Physics 2 and a list of questions from his 10th
graders in Pysics.)  The questions ranged from "Will the Sun explode?"
to "What makes glue sticky?" to "Is there any conflict between
relativity and quantum mechanics?" During the visit Tomasz told the
students a bit about his background and education in Poland. Then he
tackled the questions and responded to follow-up questions from students
during the conversation. Rick and Tomasz agreed that a narrower focus
and a bit more structure would be worth trying next time.

  Albion made two visits to Scott's classes in Gloucester. The first was
for observation, and the second was to talk to classes. During one of
the one-hour classes he talked about the structure of matter and the
utility of thinking i nextra dimensions among other topics. In the other
one-hour class he talked about gravitational lenses, the expanding
universe, and cosmology. There was comparitively little student
interaction during the talks.

  After these presentations of our experiences, we had a general
discussion of lessons learned and approaches to be taken during future
visits. All agreed that this had been a useful session. It offered a
variety of models for student-theorist-teacher interaction and inspired
ideas for variations to be used in future visits.

    Future meetings:
  We discussed possible dates for our summer workshop. Since high
schools hold classes until the end of June and the annual string theory
conference occurs at the beginning of July, we looked for possible dates
in August. We thought a 3-day workshop on Thursday-Saturday August 26-28
would accomodate most of our schedules. Then we could plan on additional
Saturday meetings one in late fall 2004 and one in late winter or early
spring 2005 to complete the five days alloted to workshop time.

If any participant finds any errors in my reporting, please note them in
a theorynet e-mail. Also it would be useful to post reflections about
each visit shortly after it occurs while impressions are still fresh.

Let's build on our success during the spring.


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