Sunday, August 14, 2016

The APS DPP is Coming!

I will give you a few moments to catch your breath before providing the details. For those of you who are not excited after reading the headline, here is why you should be. The American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics offers one of the best educational outreach programs of any professional society. They know what professional development is useful to teachers and how to make teachers feel as important as they really are. If you have been lucky enough to attend one of their meetings when it was in your area then you know what I am talking about. This year's meeting will be in San Jose, California. That makes it worth the drive for thousands of science teachers from Sacramento to San Luis Obispo. They offer 3 days of educational outreach at their annual meeting, Science Teacher Day for teachers and the Plasma Science Expo for students.
Science Teacher Day will start at 8:00 AM on November 1 at the San Jose Hilton, registration is open now. This event will be popular and registration is limited so do it early. After an introductory breakfast, it is off to Plasma 101 for Session 1. Plasma 101 has two levels, one for middle school teachers and one for high school teachers. The remaining workshop presenters can now build on what was learned in Plasma 101. After Session 1, teachers pick 2 from the 6 workshop choices that are offered in Sessions 2 and 3. These workshops are full of ideas that can be used in the classroom to teach topics like the electromagnetic spectrum, properties of light, Newton's Laws, astrophysics, and plasma physics. They are appropriate for both middle and high school teachers. The workshops are conducted by the same scientists that are participating in the conference. You can read the workshop descriptions on the APS DPP Outreach website. After the workshops a white-tablecloth luncheon is served and the teachers are treated to a keynote talk by one of the scientists. All teachers go home with a goodie bag filled with educational materials. Here is what one teacher had to say after the Salt Lake City Science Teacher's Day:
Following Science Teachers Day is an open house consisting of educational exhibits by many of the institutions that participate in the conference. This Plasma Science Expo is like a hands-on science museum where each exhibit is staffed by working scientists. Teachers are invited to bring their classes to San Jose's McEnery Convention Center on either of these two days, November 3 and 4. It is open to the public for free on November 3 from 6:00 to 8:30 PM. Just like Science Teacher Day, registration is required and limited. There are some funds available to help pay for buses and substitute pay, so register early.
As part of my role as a Faculty Scholar at LLNL, I have attended the APS DPP conference in Denver, Dallas, Chicago, and Salt Lake City to help conduct one of the workshops. I was able to stay for the Plasma Science Expo in Chicago to help staff the LLNL booth. I work with Don Correll, the former head of the Fusion Energy Program at LLNL and Steve Allen, a magnetic fusion scientist at LLNL and General Atomics. In addition to being leaders in their field, they are both committed to helping improve science education through outreach activities like those at the APS DPP meeting. I am excited about working with them again in San Jose after a 5 year hiatus. We will be conducting the Light and the Nature of Matter workshop at the Science Teacher Day. I hope to see you there. If you have questions, see the links in this post or contact Deedee Ortiz-Arias at or (609) 243-2785.

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