Physics TheoryNet Meeting, January 21, 2017
Room 218 Dana Building, Northeastern University
Brent Nelson — Northeastern University
Nancy Najmi — Reading Memorial HS
Michael Hirsh — Needham HS
Ken Olum — Tufts University
Russell Sears — Cohasset HS
Matthew Headrick — Brandeis University
Chris Siren — Groton-Dunstable Regional HS
John Samperisi — Monadnock Regional HS
Mike Wadness — Medford HS
Scott Goelzer — Coe-Brown Northwood Academy
Elaine Picard — Concord-Carlisle HS
Nivedi Das — Sharon HS
George Odell — North Andover HS
Richard Levergood — Londonderry HS
Jesse Thaler — MIT
Phiala Shanahan — MIT
James Halverson — Northeastern University
Liam Fitzpatrick — Boston University
Jiji Fan — Brown University
Per Berglund — University of New Hampshire
Tomasz Taylor — Northeastern University
Daniel Jafferis — Harvard University
Matt Reece — Harvard University
A. School Visits
During the fall semester there were two school visits reported. Jim Halverson from Northeastern visited Needham HS, giving a roughly one hour lecture on the Standard Model and string theory. The audience was a mix of seniors with a range of abilities (50-55 total students). One student was so intrigued that he announced the next day that he “was up all night, thinking about nine dimensions”! Another student asked if he could do a summer project on string theory, possibly with Professor Halverson. The plan is for a return visit in the spring.
Brent Nelson visited Cohasset HS in December. The audience included two combined classes of AP and general physics students (roughly 60 students), and the two presentations were each about 90 minutes in length, which left a lot of time for questions. Some questions were quite insightful, and there were many questions on the career-side of being a physicist.
As attendance was sparse (it being the day after the inauguration), it may be that other visits took place that were not reported at the meeting. There seems to also be some confusion as to pairings. Below is the pairing list from the fall meeting minutes. There are some empty spots, which could be filled by faculty if there is interest from high school instructors.
— Fall 2016 Pairings —
Brent Nelson — John Samperisi, Monadnock Regional HS
Brent Nelson — Scott Goelzer, Coe-Brown Northwood Academy
Brent Nelson — Russell Sears, Cohasset HS
Matt Headrick — Chris Siren, Groton-Dunstable Regional HS
Jesse Thaler — Elaine Picard, Concord-Carlisle HS
Jim Halverson — Michael Hirsh, Needham HS
Ken Olum or Jiji Fan (?) (MBTA accessible) — Nivedi Das, Sharon HS
Phiala Shanahan — Nancy Najmi, Reading Memorial HS
Liam Fitzpatrick — Mike Wadness, Medford HS
UNPAIRED HS INTRUCTORS:
George Odell, North Andover HS
Richard Levergood, Londonderry HS
Robert Moore, Roxbury Latin School
Per Berglund (on sabbatical), Tom Taylor (on sabbatical)
C. Faculty Recruitment
New faculty in the area were contacted directly, in late October, and invited to participate. The list included some more senior faculty who have worked with TheoryNet in the past. It was suggested that we reach out again, as well as confirming that HS instructors that have not been at the meetings are still interested in having someone paired with their school.
There are some remaining funds in the grant budget that are earmarked for equipment. Two more diffusion cloud chambers (the kind which run on ice water) were ordered from PASCO. These are inexpensive ($535), easy to use, and popular. There is quite an inventory of equipment, currently at Northeastern, which is available for loan, though some of that equipment should be checked for needed repairs. In particular, new fuses were purchased for the power supply on the electric diffraction experiment, but they have yet to be tested. To find out the location, and status of a piece of equipment, please see the Google Doc at
E. Other Business: Outreach event, February 15-16
A colleague of Matt Headrick’s alerted us to the organization of an outreach event to be held in conjunction with the AAAS Meeting to be held in Boston February 16-20. An announcement about the event was sent to the TheoryNet mailing list by Ken Olum in mid-January. More information can be found here:
"AAAS Science Days: In the Classroom"
Where: High schools and middle schools in the Boston and surrounding areas.
When: Thursday February 16th. During lunch periods.
What: Scientists give 15min talks about how they fell in love with science, obstacles they've overcome and why they aren't the stereotypical image of a scientist. One talk per school/group. + Free Pizza for students and teachers.
Who: AAAS is spearheading the effort in connection with their annual meeting in Boston Feb 16-20. Other organizations/universities are collaborating in order to make the event a success.
*Who we need: SCHOOLS -- Someone with a connection in a local school (grade 6-12) to connect us, and be there to ensure the students and the pizza find each other in the right room at the right time.
*Who we need: SCIENTISTS -- Scientists interested in sharing with students how they fell in love with science, obstacles they've overcome and why they aren't the stereotypical image of a scientist
The format is slightly less formal than the typical TheoryNet classroom visit, and would be facilitated by the AAAS. Interested parties are strongly urged to come to the training meeting at the Boston Sheraton to be held on February 15.
F. Next Meeting
Our spring meeting is scheduled for May 13 (the day before Mother’s Day).