[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

minutes of December 4, 2004 Physics TheoryNet meeting

Physics TheoryNet meeting, 04 Dec 2004, 
Room 218 DA, Northeastern University, Boston

minutes/action items:


Participating Teachers:
 Rick Dower, Roxbury Latin School, rick dower roxburylatin org
 Jesus Hernandez, Lawrence H.S.,  jeh33 hotmail com
 Michael Hirsh, Needham H.S., Michael_hirsh needham k12 ma us
 Farhad Riahi, Commonwealth School, Boston, friahi commschool org
 Ken Rideout, Swampscott H.S., rideoutken hotmail com
 Mike Wadness, Medford H.S., mjwadness verizon net
Participating Theorists:

 Amihay Hanany, MIT, hanany mit edu
 Albion Lawrence, Brandeis, albion brandeis edu
 Hong Liu, MIT, hong liu mit edu
 Ken Olum, Tufts, kdo cosmos phy tufts edu
 Tomasz Taylor, Northeastern, taylor neu edu


 Fred Cooper, National Science Foundation Program Director, fcooper nsf gov
 Scott Carlsson, Glouchster H.S., carlsson massed net
 Max Tegmark, MIT, tegmark mit edu (theorist)
 Emanuel (Ami) Katz, Boston University (theorist)

1. Tom gave a quick description of Physics TheoryNet, a NSF-sponsored 
outreach program in which (very) high energy theorists are paired 
with high school teachers. Its main component is the direct interaction 
between physicists and high school students and teachers,
through Q&A sessions, presentations, etc. during regular class hours
and after class. This pilot program was initiated 
one year ago by the Directorate of Theoretical 
Physics of the National Science Foundation, as a spinoff from the Boston 
The budgeted items include teacher's stipends, supplies and equipment 
to visits, projection facilities (LCD projectors), portable cloud chambers
and theorists summer travel expenses, if necessary.

2. Each of the teachers described the physics program of their 
respective schools and the cultures. Each theorist gave a short biography 
and explained his area of 
research. Those who participated last year described their experiences and 
formats employed in classroom visits. The formats included
presentations on theorists' research topics, 
presentations related to the material covered in classes or simply to
``some interesting science topics'', spontaneous and prepared Q&A 
and even an interactive session at Swampscott H.S. with not only 
students asking questions to Amihay, but also himself
asking questions to students in order to get a better understanding of 
backgrounds and ways of thinking. Some teachers expressed their pleasant
surprise with students' interest and good behavior. 

3. Brainstorming on how to best implement the theorist involvement 
with the high schools.  A few random notes including those recorded last 

What the students might get out of the visits
 - get answers to curiosity-based questions
 - supplement/enhance the current subject being studied
 - see scientists are real people
 - get expert advice on student projects (science fair, etc.)

What the teachers might get out of the visits
 - get an insider view into new developments in theoretical physics, 
   astrophysics and cosmology
 - get answers to their questions
 - get a fresh look at student's interests and to assess what students
   learn in their classes
What the scientists might get out of the visits:
 - see first hand the situation in schools
 - be forced to articulate what they do
 - justify their work and spread the word of science

General model: 
 - one-on-one pairing between teachers and theorists; as agreed at the 
previous (Summer 2004) meeting, a 2-year period seems optimal because it 
gives ample
time for working out a format most suitable in a given H.S. environment.

 - an initial visit by theorist to observe high school
 - other visits planned from there
 - altogether 3-4 visits during the spring semester

 - no preconceived ideas, be open to different types of 
   interactions for different situations
 - 2005 is the World Year of Physics as declared by (of course) the
   International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, to commemorate the 
   anniversary of Einstein's ``miraculous year'', please see 
 - 2004 Nobel Prize was awarded to high energy theorists,
   please see http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/2004/
 - both these events can be used as reference points in class visits.
 - email to TheoryNet list after visits to share experiences
 - next meeting with everyone on April 9 after everyone has
   made some visits

Equipment: Apparently, the cloud chamber works well (please contact Rick
           Dower if you want to use it), but the projection
           electrodes would enhance their sensitivity.  

Longer term future and questions to think about for April 9 meeting:
 - does it make sense to grow? are there more teachers interested? 
   if yes, theorists would have to cross party lines and involve other 
   research fields.
 - should we involve graduate students? if yes, how?
 - are there more financial resources needed? 
 - can we get and use more students' feedback?
 - meeting in Summer to assess program and involve new 
   teachers and theorists 
4. Pairings:

Amihay Hanany -- Ken Rideout
Ami Katz -- Michael Hirsh
Hong Liu -- Mike Wadness
Albian Lawrence -- Scott Carlsson
Ken Olum -- his hometown (Sharon) H.S. teacher and, together with 
one of his Tufts colleagues -- Jesus Hernandez
Tomasz Taylor - Rick Dower
Max Tegmark - Farhad Riahi

5. Other logistics

 - Please make sure to subscribe to the mailing list