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).

David Stephenson

David Stephenson - Professor of Planetary Science

David Stevenson was born in New Zealand in 1948. Growing up there, he started developing his love for science by reading the works of science fiction authors like Isaac Asimov, Robert Forward, and Fred Hoyle.  After finishing university in New Zealand, David came to Cornell University where he took classes with famous science fiction writer Carl Sagan.  Studying the interior of Jupiter at Cornell, David fell in love with the idea of using physics to understand Earth and other planets. "It's a playground for the application of physics, " he says.

David wrote a paper describing his unusual idea about how to probe the Earth's core in the prestigious scientific journal Nature. In his paper, David describes the process as beginning with pouring a massive quantity of liquid iron down a crack in Earth's surface, which due to its massive weight would continue to tunnel downward until it reached the molten core. A probe placed in the liquid iron on the surface would then be carried along with the iron (getting to the core in about a week) where it could measure the core's temperature, pressure, and chemical composition and report them using tiny artificial earthquakes that could be detected from the surface.

In spite of seeing the benefits of being able to probe the Earth's core,  David maintains a sense of humor about the difficulty of realizing such a plan. "Before, people thought this was a ridiculous idea, " he said. "I hope that I've shifted the viewpoint from ridiculous to merely unlikely."