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Thoughts on the theorynet website

As we discussed in the meeting, I wrote to Jennie Traschen and David
Kastor to try to recruit them for Monadnock Regional.  I did not refer
them to the web site, because there's so little there, but this prompted
me think about what should be there, so here are some thoughts.

I think there are 3 basic functions for this site: recruiting teachers,
recruiting physicists, and communication and coordination between
theorynet members.  Probably the front page should have some pictures
and a few words about the basic idea, together places to click "For
teachers", "For physicists", and "For theorynet members".  (In my
opinion, though, the last should not lead to a protected part of the
site.  If at all possible we should let people who are interested read
our discussions.)

On the "For physicists" part, there should be a clear and fairly
detailed description of how the program works from the physicist's
perspective.  We probably should have a list of topics that people have
discussed before, to inspire other physicists and to make it seem more
real, i.e. to make the perspective physicist member feel "I could do

I think detail really helps here.  I think the two most important issues
for the prospective physicist member are "How much time will I have to
commit?" and "Will I really be able to do something useful in a high
school classroom?"  Perhaps we should mention the range of time
commitments.  In some cases I've given one 50 minute lecture on the way
to work and that was it.  So people might be able to start fairly

As for the other, we need to stress that you don't need a lot of special
high-school-pedagogical skill to make this succeed.  I do think it's
useful to go watch a class to get some idea of what high school is like,
but the basic requirement is only to love your work and let that show to
high school students.

Others on this list should join in here: What would you have liked to
see on a web site that would have made you feel comfortable joining the

It would also be good (probably in some common part of the site) to have
a list of universities whose faculty have participated and schools where
lectures have been given.  This large list (I've spoken at 10 schools
myself) will make people feel that this is not some out of the way flaky
program but a happening thing that they should join.

I think we should be careful how we present the group meetings.  On one
hand, for the person who is just starting out, it might feel very
reassuring to know that you can meet with people who have done this
before and to get advice about how to begin.  On the other hand, for the
person concerned about time commitment, you don't want the meetings to
feel like an onerous commitment of extra time beyond the time spent in
the classroom.  I don't know how others feel about the need to attend
meetings.  My feeling is that the important thing is to be in the
classroom.  If attending meetings helps you get there, that's great, but
if it interferes, forget it.