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Minutes of September 21, 2013 Physics Theorynet meeting

Physics TheoryNet Meeting, September 21, 2013

Room 218 Dana Building, Northeastern University



Mike Wadness, Medford HS
Rick Dower, Roxbury Latin School
Chris Siren, Groton-Dunstable Regional HS
Richard Levergood, Londonderry HS
Scott Goelzer, Coe-Brown Northwood Academy
Elaine Picard, Concord-Carlisle H.S.
Nancy Najmi, Reading Memorial HS
Nick Nicastro, Wachusett Regional HS
Michael Hirsh, Needham H.S.
Tomasz Taylor, Northeastern University
Tim Stamnitz, Winnisquam Regional School District

Brent Nelson, Northeastern University
Matthew Headrick, Brandeis University
Ken Olum, Tufts University
John Samperisi, Monadnock HS
Noreen Scarpitto, Reading Memorial HS
Brandon Murakami, Rhode Island College
Don Fries, Community School, Tamworth, NH
Per Berglund, University of New Hampshire
Ann Kaiser, La Salle Academy
Nivedi Das, Sharon H.S.
Albion Lawrence, Brandeis University
Tasneem Zahra Husain
Jesse Thaler, MIT
Jose Juan Blanco-Pillado, Tufts University

A. Spring School Visits

The schedule was affected by winter school cancellations which for some teachers created unusual stress during the spring term when making up for the snow days.

A1) Mike Wadness/Jesse Thaler. Actually, no stress here. Mike filled the extra week of classes with QuarkNet particle physics days. After students warmed up by analyzing Z decays at LEP, Jesse came to explain the theoretical background and put experimental data in the context of the standard model.

A2) Rick Dower/Matt Reece and Tasmeen Zahra Husain
Tasmeen and Matt visited Roxbury Latin in the Fall, focusing on the connection between string theory, particle physics and cosmology.

A3) Chris Siren/Matthew Headrick
Chris commented on the possible impact of Matt Headrick visit with Alejandra Castro, a female Harvard postdoc, on gender equity in his classes. It could be a coincidence, but there are more girls enrolled now in AP physics.

A4) Nick Nicastro/Tom Taylor
Tom was able to visit Wachusett Regional at the end of April, where he visited one senior physics class and one honors level Modern Physics class. The topics ranged from LHC measurements (including the recent Higgs discovery) to a discussion of the expanding universe.

A5) Elaine Picard/Tom Taylor
Tom visited Concord Carlisle at the very end of April. He presented some background for the recent Higgs discovery, explaining the concepts of Higgs field and Higgs boson. Helmholz coil was used to illustrate magnetic forces on moving charges, and their role in keeping protons on a circular path at the LHC.

B. Equipment

No equipment changed hands at the meeting. We ask everyone with equipment in their possession to plase let Tom or Brent know before the winter meeting so that we can coordinate transfers between interested parties. The power supply for Milikan experiment is not working properly -- Mike Wadness will bring it to NU for the next meeting and we will arrange a repair at PASCO.

C. Grant.
In the spirit of the spring meeting (see minutes), we accepted a one-year "bridge" grant from NSF, at the current funding level, as an encouragement for submitting a more "serious" proposal next year. The trickiest part will be to explain the "intellectual merit" of our activities. This will require connecting the project with the existing literature on the merits of scientific outreach. Teachers are much more competent in this area than physicists, so we will be asking for help, especially from Mike Wadness whose Ph.D thesis was based on his Quarknet/Theorynet experience. We will start working on the proposal in a couple of weeks.

D. Social media, internet etc. There was agreement that we need to create a social media interface. Since Google+ offers a good setup for sharing folders and collaborative work, we will set up an account shortly. It will connect to a webpage: the idea is to hire students
to develop a "professional" webpage. Also the flyer needs an update.

E. There is an interesting outreach program running in Boston area,
"There is a Scientist in my Classroom":
which is running a workshop on 11/5 (Tuesday) at MIT:
Tom was contacted by Anique Olivier-Mason who encouraged us to participate and share experiences. If teachers are interested, we will help with covering travel expenses etc.

F. Pairings for 2013/24

Elaine Picard  --         Ken Olum
Rick Dower --          Tasneem Zahra Husain and Matt Reece
Scott Goelzer/
Tim Stamnitz --        Per Berglund
Michael Hirsh --       Daniel Jafferis
Ann Kaiser  --         Brandon Murakami
Richard Levergood --   Tom Taylor
Nancy Najmi /
Noreen Scarpitto --    Brent Nelson
Nick Nicastro --       Tom Taylor
Chris Siren --         Matthew Headrick
Mike Wadness --        Jesse Thaler and Jose Juan Blanco-Pillado

G. Teachers' stipends may be late due to sequestration/shutdown

H. Next Meeting: January 11 with a snowdate of January 25.

Tomasz Taylor, Professor
Department of Physics
208 Dana Research Center
Northeastern University
Boston, MA 02115