American Physical Society
Smiling professor

Information for Educators

Overview

Physics teachers and professors are likely to be the only physicists your students know! So when they have questions about physics and what physicists do, they may come to you for advice. In this section you will find suggestions for ways in which you can cultivate your students' curiosity for learning more about how and why physicists study the world around them.

Tools and Resources

Why Study Physics Poster

APS and AAPT worked together to create a "Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Take Physics" poster. These posters (along with other educational posters) are available through the APS website at http://www.aps.org/programs/education/posters.cfm.

Why Study Physics poster10. This is actually a joke; there is no way to get out of a black hole! But the APS outreach website PhysicsCentral has an article about this fascinating subject.

9. Many people who have studied physics report it helps them develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

8. Why the sky is blue
Why the world goes round (you might have heard it was love, but Newton knew the real answer)
The physics of climate change.

7. This report shows that physics majors get among the highest MCAT scores, and the highest LSAT scores of all undergraduate majors.

6. For some of those recession-proof jobs, see our physicist profiles or the University of Texas website.

5. Mathematics provide the tools physicists use to understand the world we live in. Nobel Prize winner Eugene Wigner explored this theme in a famous essay called The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences.

4. Almost a third of all physics bachelor's recipients who go into the private sector take engineering jobs. See more interesting physics employment facts.

3. Keivan Stassun explores the mysteries of the universe.
Marta Dark-McNeese uses lasers to develop new medical techniques.
Kate McAlpine became an international rap sensation with the Large Hadron Rap.
Kenneth Jensen solves the world's energy problems for Makani Power.

2. Without physics there would be no:

1. Physics makes you more attractive to university recruiters, future employers, and that cutie you have your eye on. (You'll just have to trust us on that last one).

Anne Catlla

Anne Catlla - Postdoctoral Associate

Anne Catlla's career in applied mathematics was a kind of fluke. When she started her undergraduate at the University of Kansas,  she started in engineering,  but after deciding it was not for her,  she moved to the education department. That too proved to be not a good fit,  and she declared a math major,  because she already had taken several math classes that she enjoyed.

When a physics professor asked her to stay and do research for him,  she agreed and enrolled in the masters program in math at the University of Kansas. She was attracted to applied mathematics because of its inclusive nature. "I think that mathematicians and physicists and applied mathematicians all will look at the same phenomena and ask different questions. The questions that a mathematician asks will be perhaps more abstract. The questions a physicist asks tend to be more interested in what was coming out of the system. I was interested in the math,  but I was also interested in the system. That drew me to applied math,  because I felt at the time like this was bridging the gap, "

After earning that degree she went on to Northwestern to earn her Ph.D.

Women are still a rare sight within math and physics departments. Although Catlla says she never faced explicit discrimination,  she did notice some minor things. "It's so much more subtle. It has to do with feeling very singled out. There were math and physics courses I took where I was the only woman. You might have a question,  and you're sitting there,  thinking to yourself,  "is this a stupid question?" And then,  if I ask the stupid question,  I'm not just the person who asked the stupid question,  I'm the woman who asked the stupid question. And so I think that that kind of pressure,  I've definitely felt many times."