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Minutes of February 4, 2012 Physics Theorynet meeting and call for more data

Physics Theorynet meeting, February 4, 2012
Room 218 DA, Northeastern University, Boston



Lara Anderson, Harvard University
Per Berglund, University of New Hampshire
Rick Dower, Roxbury Latin School
Scott Goelzer, Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, NH
Michael Hirsh, Needham H.S.
Richard Levergood, Londonderry High School, NH
Brent Nelson, Northeastern University
Nick Nicastro, Wachusett Regional H.S.
Chris Siren, Groton-Dunstable Regional H.S.
Timothy Stamnitz, Monadnock High School, NH
Mike Wadness, Medford H.S.
Matthew Headrick, Brandeis University
Ken Olum, Tufts University
Tasneem Zahra Husain
Tomasz Taylor, Northeastern University


John Janetti, Andover H.S.
Ann Kaiser, La Salle Academy
Noreen Scarpitto, Reading Memorial H.S.
Nivedi Das, Sharon H.S.
Albion Lawrence, Brandeis University
Brandon Murakami, Rhode Island College
Nancy Najmi, Reading Memorial H.S.
Jesse Thaler, MIT
Jose Juan Blanco-Pillado, Tufts University
Don Fries, Community School, Tamworth, NH
Xi Yin, Harvard

A. Introductions
We welcomed Lara Anderson and Tasneem Husain. Lara works mostly on string 
phenomenology and has just started her postdoc 
appointment at Harvard. Tasneem was a postdoc at Harvard, then returned to 
Pakistan where she taught at Lahore University and 
trained teachers, and now is back in the area.

B. Fall 2011 school visits 
There were several visits in NH. At Coe-Brown Academy, Per entertained not 
only Scott's but also Don Fries' students who came 
on a field trip from Tamworth. Local students were happy to host a group 
from another school. Tim's school in remote 
Monandnock happened to be on Ken's New Year celebration trail: he talked 
to two classes on time travel. On another day, Ken 
visited George  Odell's Cosmo Club in North Andover High School, following 
Tom's visit earlier in the Fall. Tom went to visit 
Richard Levergood's classes in Londonderry NH on a Halloween snowstorm 
day. He talked about expanding Universe, dark 
energy and everything related to 2011 Physics Nobel Prize. Lara made her 
first visit to Reading Memorial High School where she 
talked to five classes on fundamental physics and LHC. Xi Yin visited 
Rick's Roxbury Latin school while Jesse Thaler spoke in 
Needham  about  (possibly but unlikely) superluminal neutrinos. Matt 
Hedrick brought his Harvard colleague Brian Wecht to Chris Siren's 
classes in Groton-Dunstable, where they introduced students to the concept 
of curved spacetime. Finally, Jose Juan visited Mike's 
classes in Medford, this time focussing on general aspects of physics 

C. Theorynet Evaluation
Just before the meeting, Mike W. distributed students' responses to a 
questionnaire about Jose Juan visits to Medford H.S. It was 
assigned as an on-line homework, and contains a very nice account of what 
students really get from our visits. Chris Siren 
distributed results of a survey from Matt and Brian's visit to 
Groton-Dunstable. Rick Levergood brought a similar questionnaire from 
Londonderry. These data and hopefully more coming from other schools will 
be used in the Fall of 2012, in the proposal for 
renewing our NSF grant (it's the outreach part of Northeastern's high 
energy theory group grant). Just as a reminder, the present 
grant covers teachers' stipends, travel expenses, equipment (overhead 
projectors for participating schools, physics demonstration 
equipment described in the minutes of past meetings etc), adverstising 
costs (flyers, posters), coffee, donuts etc. From our 
experience with other proposals (submitted with Per and Ken), it is clear 
the the reviewers will be concerned with the 
"effectiveness" of our activities. So far we have been very casual in this 
matter, but now we need to keep track of:
1) the number of classes/students reached in each visit
2) students' and teachers' feedback
3) record the use of demonstration equipment
It would be very useful to have more data about students working with the 
equipment -- after all, it's the most expensive part of the budget.

D. Next meeting: June 2, 2012