When the winners of the 2010 APS Laserfest video contest were announced last month, there was one name noticeably not on the list-last year’s winner James Lincoln. The guy can make a pretty good video and he’s as enthusiastic about physics education and the promotion of women in physics as anyone we’ve come across. His video was great too, but this year’s contest had a lot of incredible entries. So, when James emailed us asking for an honorable mention, we thought we’d throw him a bone by doing a profile of him on the Physics Buzz blog. We like you James, so here’s your honorable mention.
Physics Buzz: What do you do? Are you a teacher, student, a dedicated physics geek etc.?
James Lincoln: I am a teacher; high school and college, mostly high school. I am also researching in the history of physics and in physics education specifically differentiated instruction based on gender. In history, I focus on the origin of the symbols we use in physics.
I knew in high school that I was going to be a physics teacher. I majored in physics at UCLA planning to be a teacher, then when I graduated (early) I went into their Masters Ed. Program and began teaching during my fourth year of college. I also have graded the AP Physics Tests three times. I think I was the youngest grader ever (you need 3 years teaching experience minimum). I recently got my Masters in Applied Physics at CSULB, focus on Physics Education and Gender. I am starting a website: www.physicsforgirls.com.
I am very dedicated to physics education. I recently was elected Vice President of the Southern California American Association of Physics Teachers, in charge of high schools. I regularly present for AAPT and am presenting twice at the national meeting in Portland this summer. My presentations are “Noticeable Errors in Artificial Gravity of Rotating Space Stations” and “The Etymology of Phyics Symbols: Why Does This Stand for That?” The second of these I am very excited about.
PB: What gets you psyched about physics?
JL: At first I only liked one type of physics – mechanics. But, as I spent more time with each field I discovered that there are exciting things in each. I always liked high energy particle physics, but it took me a long time to like quantum mechanics. The way into QM for me was learning the history of how it was created. Once I learned that, I became much more focused. Eventually, I became an independent history of physics researcher. It really helps my teaching. I would definitely say that the history of physics is what gets me excited about things these days.
PB: How do you make your videos, what’s your source of inspiration and goals when you start?
JL: Usually there is a topic, for example lasers. I start by thinking of all the demonstrations that would be most helpful for people to understand a topic. Then I make sure to remove the obstacles to learning (no black boxes). Then I focus on putting things in an order that makes the most sense and look for a central theme. Once I choose how the demonstrations will work I storyboard the whole project and dialogue. We film multiple takes with different emphases and attitudes. Lastly, while we are filming we listen to ourselves making music that would be appropriate for the images we are filming. The editing takes forever, but it’s an extremely important part not to skimp on. Most of the demonstrations are ones that I have never heard of before. I think it’s really important for people to see them, especially because I perform them all live, and show that anyone could do them.
PB: How many science videos have you made? Was last year’s entry your first one?
JL: No, I have been making videos for years, since high school, when I was the science club president. My friend Adam and I made an awesome documentary on Hydrogen, you know, the element. I always have ideas for new projects; I am looking into some grant ideas right now.
PB: Thanks James, the videos are great.
JL: Thanks. You will have to thank my brother Chris, too. He helps a lot. For example, the music in my LaserFest video was suggested by him – a perfect fit!
We’ll see you in Portland James!!!
If you missed this year’s winning entries, be sure to check them out here: