Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On Physics students and conferences....

In February, the Chicago State Group made the trip from the snow and cold of Chicago to the snow and cold of Washington, DC to attend the 2010 Joint meeting of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers.  Six students, and two faculty members from CSU attended the meeting and presented their work in SPS Outreach (Erica), Nuclear High Energy Physics (Neli and Macario) and Physics Education Research (Virginia, Sean and Geraldine).  This was the largest group CSU had ever brought to the meeting.  Professors Garcia and Sabella made arrangements for flights and hotel rooms and remarkably everyone arrived in DC, in the snow, without a glitch – kind of. 

The entire CSU group stayed at the Normandy Hotel which had espresso machines and provided great opportunities for exercise that involved hiking over mounds of snow, and sliding along icy paths on the bridge over Rock Creek Park to get to the conference.   

Sunday was the first big day with all the students sleeping late and missing Dr. Garcia’s Sunday morning APS talk.  Later in the afternoon, Sean and Virginia missed the bus to their workshop with the Physics Education Group from the University of Washington but got there in time by trekking through the snowy streets of DC.   Sunday night was Erica’s poster about the work she completed last summer during her internship at SPS.  Monday was a big day with Macario and Neli presenting their research during the SPS research session.  Their work, partially funded by two SPS research grants involved detecting cosmic rays at CSU.  On Monday night, Virginia presented her poster on a new Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) course we did last summer for Chicago area teachers.   Tuesday, Sean presented his work on assessing the effectiveness of new instructional techniques CSU is using in our introductory physics classes.  CSU’s last talk was Wednesday morning with Geraldine driving 5 hours on Tuesday night, presenting her talk Wednesday morning on collaboration in the physics class, getting back in her car and driving another 5 hours to get back to her job at the Science House in NC.

 It was fun to bring a big group to the meeting.  We believe that going away to a conference is one of the ways you can instill excitement and help students appreciate the life of scientists and science educators and help them understand and appreciate the diverse work being done by the physics community.  Once we all got back to our homes it was back to classes and work … until the next conference.  (CSU Physics, photos taken by Sean Gallardo)

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