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minutes of October 14, 2006 Theorynet meeting

Physics Theorynet meeting, 14 Oct 2006,
Room 218 DA, Northeastern University, Boston

minutes/action items:


Participating Teachers:
 Rick Dower, Roxbury Latin School
 Scott Goelzer, Coe-Brown Northwood Academy (NH)
 Jesus Hernandez, Lawrence H.S.
 Farhad Riahi, Commonwealth School of Boston
 Mike Wadness, Medford H.S.

Participating Theorists:
 Per Berglund, University of New Hampshire
 Fred Cooper, National Science Foundation
 Brent Nelson, Northeastern
 Ken Olum, Tufts
 Tomasz Taylor, Northeastern

Michael Hirsh, Needham H.S.
Albion Lawrence, Brandeis

1. Introductions:
Three new participants joined Theorynet this year. Scott Goelzer is our
first teacher from New Hampshire, teaching junior and senior level physics
classes at Coe-Brown Northwood Academy (public/private secondary school for
grades 9-12, founded in 1867). After participating in the HST02 Summer
Program at CERN, he is familiar with the arcana of elementary particle
physics. He is on the Steering Committee of the Lowell Regional Physics
Alliance that brings together teachers from the MA/NH border area. Per
Berglund is our first physicist from New Hampshire. He is Professor of
Physics at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. He is a theoretical
physicist interested in the interplay between geometry and string theory 
how the geometry of spacetime determines the physics observed in the
universe. He has successfully advertised Theorynet in his last workshop 
GK-12 teachers at UNH, and is enthusiastic about the possibility of
extending our outreach northbound. Brent Nelson is the new faculty member 
Northeastern. His research interests lie in the area of high energy 
physics beyond the Standard Model. In particular, he is interested in
theoretical considerations and phenomenology that may be indicative of
string theory in the forthcoming Large Hadron Collider experiments at CERN.

2. Update of high-school visits since last meeting in April:

-Medford (Mike Wadness): Ken Olum revisited Medford H.S. in April. Mike
stressed that the educational value of Ken's visits goes far beyond 
since they allow introducing students to the academic/research world that
seems to them
very distant and detached from everyday reality. Seeing a real-life
helps them realize that scientists are real people and that a career in
can be interesting.

3. Discussion:

Most of discussion focussed on the prospects for developing a larger scale
outreach program. Theorynet is unique in its focus on high school students.
As Fred pointed out, any larger scale operation would require a formal
evaluation procedure, which is more (logistically and even legally, as
pointed out by Mike) complicated for programs involving students than for
more traditional physicist/teacher workshops. We should be asking for help
from our colleagues in education schools, and we could also get some advice
from the faculty involved in GK-12 grants.
Tom mentioned his experience with Northeastern's GK-12 proposal which made
him realize that such multimillion dollar grants involve a huge
administration effort/cost component that is far beyond what physicists
could fit between research and teaching. Per has some experience with UNH
Geoteach grant proposal preparation and is more optimistic that we could
develop a novel framework for a larger scale operation, possibly involving
graduate students in a way similar to GK-12. Actually, the NH/MA extension
should be easy to handle by attracting physicists and teachers associated
with UNH workshops. Update: After the meeting, we have already heard from
Alan Chuckran (Dracut Senior High School).

4. Pairings:
Per Berglund -- Scott Goelzer
Brent Nelson -- Rick Dower
Ken Olum and Fred Cooper -- Mike Wadness
Albion Lawrence -- Michael Hirsh (will resume after Albion returns from
Per Berglund (until next meeting) - Farhad Riahi
Tom Taylor -- Jesus Hernandez

5. The next meeting will take place on January 27, 2007