Shedding the lab coat

Whew, I’m exhausted. I spent Saturday through Tuesday at the American Association of Physics Teacher’s Summer Meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina. Besides trying some of the local BBQ (not such a big fan), I spent lots of time in the exhibit hall letting teachers know about Adopt-a-Physicist and the other resources APS has to offer them.

Located not too far from the APS booth were our good friends, Educational Innovations. Not only do they produce our PhysicsQuest kits, they also have an endless supply of science toys. They like to use our booth as Rocket Balloon target practice.

I attended an interesting session on using blogs, wikis, and forums in teaching physics and heard a great talk by a teacher who takes his junior and senior high school physics students to an indoor racing track each winter where they apply what they’ve been learning to driving. It’s sort of like amusement park physics although, as the presenter pointed out, you can take students racing in the winter in Chicago.

News & Records, a Greensboro paper, had a great article about the conference – Physicists shedding stodgy lab coats, by Karin Dryhurst 7/31/07. You have to pay to view the article, so I’ll just copy my favorite passage below.

[Brian] Jones and [Stanley] Micklavzina said they fit the Einstein stereotype.

“You’re older, with crazy white hair. You’re a physicist,” Jones said.

But Jones, wearing a tie-dyed T-shirt and sneakers, said people have started to notice a change with more women and minorities joining the ranks.

Micklavzina said physics can be fashionable.

“You don’t have to wear bad clothes,” he said. But, the pair agreed, “it’s too late for us.”

Jones (top) and Micklavzina (bottom) at their finest.

I’m willing to put up with a lack of fashion if it means learning from guys like Jones, Micklavzina, and the many other visionary physics teachers at the conference. And I imagine their students agree.

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