The AAPT, or the American Association of Physics Teachers, was founded in the 1930s and is the premier global professional society for physics education. Their goal is “to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching.”
Twice a year, the AAPT organizes a national meeting at various locations across the United States, giving its members and physics educators at all levels a chance at ongoing professional development. There will be a collection of speakers, workshops, and hundreds of sessions over a four or five-day period all centered around physics education.
Relevant software companies, organizations, and STEM promoters are typically represented at these meetings, along with many product-specific groups such as PASCO, Arbor Scientific, Merlan Scientific, Vernier and Texas Instruments each wanting you to demo their tools and equipment.
"Many of our members have told us that attending an AAPT national meeting has been the single-most transformative experience in their teaching careers. Attendees come away from our meetings equipped with ideas that they can quickly incorporate in their classrooms." says Mike Hall, Director of Membership at AAPT. How to become a member of AAPT?
In San Diego at the 2018 National Winter Meeting, Dr. David Pritchard of MIT and other contributors collaboratively presented, "The State of Online Physics Courses & Building Online Communities of Learning". The talk touched on the evolution of online homework which included data analysis of effective methodologies including blended learning, the flipped classroom, social media engagement, and the positive use of peer instruction.
More recently at the 2018 Summer meeting in Washington D.C., an escape room was offered at the conference - known as LabEscape, which is a joint sponsorship of the University of Illinois and American Physical Society and is touted as the world's first science-based escape room. Their “mobile” roadshow was a "must do" for anyone lucky enough to participate! More information can be found at labescape.org.
For those curious on how to effectively operate physics outreach to help further funding or generate excitement about your physics program, you will have the chance to see some great examples of how to do that successfully. Instructors Dave Maillo, Sam Sampere, and Dale Stille had a packed room during their session in DC this past summer with a "guarantee" that everyone would leave with at least one new demo to add into their outreach repertoire.
The conference programs are now exclusively online as a part of a green initiative that helps protect the environment and save AAPT money. Click here for an example from the 2018 Winter meeting program.
Each conference will also have a special set of dedicated workshops and meetups for some select groups. The first-timers breakfast will offer opportunities to introduce yourself over a cup of coffee to other conventioneers. For those interested in being active during the conference, 5K run/walks are usually offered. There is even a chosen day high school teachers can attend the conference for free as well.
Attendees can follow along with the schedule of events via the "AAPT" mobile app. This comes in handy for keeping a list of workshops and sessions that one hopes to attend. With so many meeting opportunities (and promotional giveaways) provided over a short period of time, this will help to organize and plan your commitments.
Want to be social during the conference? Follow a live hashtag on Twitter and Facebook, which will highlight featured events and sessions each day. There are also memorable quotes and photos being shared by attendees. Try a quick search on your favorite social media site using #AAPTSM18 for posts from the 2018 DC meeting.
Expert TA has participated in the last 15 consecutive AAPT national meetings as a sustaining member, often highlighting our own proprietary learning technology. The conference gives us a chance to meet directly with our peers and gain invaluable feedback about new features and tools offered by our team. At the 2019 Winter national meeting in Houston, we anticipate a lot of discussion on the Expert TA Physics Video Series developed based on the popularity of flipped classroom approach to teaching physics. You can find us in Houston at booth 203.
If you haven’t had a chance to attend a conference yet, we strongly urge you to. Typically, there are more than 1,000 attendees with daily opportunities to engage with like-minded professionals in both formal and informal settings.
AAPT is recognized as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Gifts to AAPT are tax deductible. Find out more at AAPT.org.