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Minutes of TheoryNet Meeting, September 28 2019

Physics TheoryNet Meeting, September 28, 2019

Room 218 Dana Building, Northeastern University




Brent Nelson — Northeastern University

Michael Hirsh — Needham HS

John Samperisi — Monadnock Regional HS

Elaine Picard — Concord-Carlisle HS

Mike Wadness — Medford HS

Rick Dower (Emeritus) — Roxbury Latin


Matthew Headrick — Brandeis University

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

Scott Goelzer — Coe-Brown Northwood Academy

Ken Olum — Tufts University

Russell Sears — Cohasset HS

Nancy Najmi — Reading Memorial HS

Chris Siren — Groton-Dunstable Regional HS

A. School Visits


A couple of school visits to report from last spring:

Jim Halverson came to Concord-Carlisle and visited four sections. This was Jim’s second year visiting this location. The format was Q and A, with students encouraged to write out answers ahead of time. Jim also suggested a video that students could watch before the visit. Topics included particle physics, cosmology/astronomy, and some computer science. Jim also visited Needham HS earlier in the spring.

Ken Olum visited Nancy Najmi at Reading Memorial HS. More than one instructor pooled their classes, and Ken spoke to about 120 students, representing senior, junior, and sophomore age groups. The student levels included AP, Honors, and College Prep Physics levels. The topic was gravitational waves. As it happened, a new LIGO event was recorded less than 12 hours after the site visit!

B. Pairings


Attendance at the meeting was almost exclusively made up of high school instructors, which made establishing pairings for the coming academic year impossible. The decision was made to solicit commitment from Boston-area faculty members first, then arrange pairings via email, coordinated centrally by Northeastern. 

Look for these emails to arrive shortly.


C. Equipment:

Some updates:

We ask that all equipment status updates be posted on the following Google Sheet:



D. Other Business:

1) Mike Wadness described the Step-up for Physics program (for which he is an ambassador), which promotes females in pursuit of undergraduate physics degrees. The program involves case studies of people (a plurality of whom are women) who have chosen to major in physics and what they are doing now (not necessarily in academic physics). Part two asks HS students to imagine themselves 15 years in the future — how would a physics degree have helped you achieve your goals?

2) It was suggested that we investigate the use of Google Classroom for TheoryNet Management. Many high schools use this platform already, and it allows for the full range of Google applications (shared docs, forms for feedback, hosting videos, messaging). Among other things, it might allow for the curation of a repository of background materials that can be accessed by students prior to a faculty visit. It may also facilitate communication regarding parings and equipment transfers.

3) We are accepting suggestions for additional equipment purchases!


E. Next Meeting:

Given the small number of attendees, it was decided to give only a tentative date for the winter meeting, and poll potential attendees in December to establish a preferred time. The tentative date is January 11.

Brent Nelson

Northeastern University