AAPT Game Night: Reflections and Future Directions

posted by Joel Corbo, University of Colorado- Boulder and J.T. Laverty, Kansas State University on February 12 at 12:35

(All photos in the post by AAPT photographer, Ashauni Lennox)

Ever since the 2017 Winter Meeting in Atlanta, AAPT conferences have included a “Game Night” on the official meeting agenda. These events are a great way to bring together people from across the AAPT community in a low-stakes environment to meet each other, eat snacks, play games, and have fun.

Photo of game night attendees for first AAPT Game Night at the 2017 Atlanta Meeting

So what does an AAPT Game Night look like? Lots of people will be sitting at tables playing (frequently, modern) board games. There may be other kinds of games to play, such as ping pong, air hockey, or jumbo-sized Connect Four.  There will also be snacks such as popcorn, ice cream, or the like. At the Cincinnati meeting, one group played a one-shot D&D campaign, and sometimes people bring their personal video game consoles, like the Nintendo Switch, for others to play.

Game Night is attended by people from across the AAPT community and is a good place to network with physics teachers both inside and outside PER.  If you’re interested in relaxing with other physics teachers, engaging with fantastical worlds, or just counting cards, then you should consider going to Game Night at your next AAPT Summer or Winter Meeting.

Happy Game Night participants at the 2019 Summer Meeting in Provo

Given the title and theme of this blog, we want to explore how Game Night came to be, how it has changed over time, and what might be in store for it in the future. Our focus is on the Game Night that has become part of the AAPT conferences.  That said, board games have been a part of the PER community on and off for many years—informal game nights have existed at other conferences and as part of several groups within the community. Feel free to jump to the comments to tell your own stories of games in the PER community!

 

The First AAPT Game Night

The first AAPT Game Night was an unofficial event run by us (Joel Corbo and J.T. Laverty) and Dimitri Dounas-Frazer during the 2016 AAPT Summer Meeting in Sacramento. We were motivated to create it as an alternative social event to the long standing PER karaoke night. We were interested in creating a space that did not focus on alcohol, and we personally really enjoy playing games and teaching them to others.

Even though it wasn’t an official event, AAPT was very supportive of this impromptu game night. Joel had been on PERLOC for about half a year at that point as the PERC Liaison, which meant that he had been in communication with AAPT about various logistical conference matters. He asked Tiffany Hayes and Cerena Cantrell, the AAPT staffers who organize the conferences, if there was a room available where we could hold a Game Night, and they provided one on very short notice (like a day or two in advance).

People playing corn hole at the Summer 2018 Meeting in Washington, DC

The games were all from our personal collections, and we advertised primarily through Facebook posts, word of mouth, and the RiPE Meeting. Despite the last-minute nature of the event, a good number of people (30? 40? We’re not sure anymore) showed up to play games, and some other folks who had their instruments with them organized a “sing along/jam session” in the hallway outside the room where we were holding Game Night.

 

The Evolution of Game Night

After the success of the first unofficial Game Night, AAPT made it an official part of their conferences starting at the 2017 Winter Meeting in Atlanta.  To be clear, Tiffany and Cerena took the initiative to make this happen—they added it to the program and registration process; reserved space; ordered snacks and drinks; and rented several table-based games (e.g., ping pong and air hockey). They did all of that on their own and we are grateful for it.  They also asked us for game recommendations; AAPT now has its own collection of six games specifically for Game Night, to supplement the games that attendees bring from home. Since 2017, Game Night has been a regular part of all AAPT Summer and Winter Meetings.

People playing a card game at the 2019 Winter Meeting in Houston

One of the outcomes of Game Night’s institutionalization is that it now is advertised to everyone, not just the PER community, and lots of different people from across AAPT attend it. This makes it a great opportunity for PER and non-PER people to network with each other. An additional outcome is that Game Night falls under the jurisdiction of the AAPT Code of Conduct, which is important to us since we want it to be a space that is as open, inclusive, and as safe as possible.

 

While not officially part of AAPT and not technically connected to Game Night, the “sing along/jam session” that started outside the first Game Night has also continued, though often at different times and locations from Game Night.

 

Looking Forward

Given how well institutionalized Game Night has become, we expect that it’s here to stay as a fixture of AAPT conferences. We hope that it helps to foster interactions between people who might not otherwise have met, in a low-stakes environment where people can relax and be themselves. So, if you haven’t gone to a Game Night in the past, consider going this summer. If you have gone before, please go again!

People hanging out at Game Night at the 2019 Winter Meeting in Houston

We also hope that telling the story of Game Night’s origin will inspire other folks to start their own social events at AAPT Meetings that are fun, open, and inclusive—perhaps a knitting circle, trivia night, or crafting event. The more that these activities emerge from the shared interests of the AAPT community, the better they will be at bringing people together and making for an enjoyable conference experience.

 

Finally, we’d like to thank Tiffany and Cerena, not just for supporting Game Night, but also for all of the work they do to make Summer and Winter Meetings happen. There wouldn’t be an AAPT without them!

Tags: History  conference  social event  


Re: AAPT Game Night: Reflections and Future Directions - February 12 2:50:PM
Michael Wittmann
13 Posts

I love reading this. It's one of the many examples of a small group of people seeing a need of some sort, and then simply doing something about it. Sometimes I feel like small-scale leadership of this sort is what makes this community (really, any community) actually function. 

Two other moments come to mind when I think about that kind of leadership and activity. The first is that the karaoke night itself was organized (though never officially, in the way that Game Night is) for just the same reasons. There was a small group that saw a thing, then others that wanted to join in, and boom, there you go, karaoke night. I think everyone involved was surprised when it turned into a larger thing, but these things happen, right? The second is that the official game night feels (to me, who has been going to AAPT meetings since 1996) like the continuation of a longstanding PER tradition of.... game nights. The games were smaller (decks of cards are easier to travel with than larger games), but there was a long history of people getting together for gaming, back in the day. It's nice to see how things come back around, as needs arise. 


— Michael Wittmann, UMaine PER and RiSE Center


Re: AAPT Game Night: Reflections and Future Directions - February 15 10:46:AM
Alexis Knaub
12 Posts

If you have anything you'd like to specifically share about similar events from the 1990s (especially if there are photos), please do so in an entry! 

I've enjoyed the Game Night space, even though card and board games aren't my thing. We've played video games (mostly Mario Kart), made signage to cheer on a colleague who was winning an award. One of my friends last year even did a fortune telling card reading for me.



Some personal stories about co-organizing PERC 2012

posted by Chandra Turpen, University of Maryland on December 13, 2019 at 12:30

Curious on how an organizer got involved? Here's the origin story of how Chandra Turpen became a PERC 2012 co-organizer and the lasting impact the 2012's team work has had.

If you are interested in organizing PERC 2021, go to this post for all the details.

I would like to share my own personal experiences with co-organizing a PERC conference (back in 2012) as an example of what that process can look like, partially in hopes of demystifying the process a bit and encouraging others to take on such roles in the future.

When my colleagues and I proposed to organize PERC, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. As a PER graduate student, I only had experience organizing a couple of PERC parallel sessions, but never something of this scale. In putting a proposal for PERC together, I was ~1 year out from having finished my PhD, had relocated to the Washington D.C. area, but was not yet employed at Univ. of Maryland (UMD). I had started coming to UMD one day a week to informally collaborate with folks there and joined a small but vibrant scholarly community which we called, “Affect gang” (see photo below). As a group, we had been reading articles and analyzing pieces of data together about the role of emotions and identity within physics/science learning experiences. We found fascinating areas of scholarship and brilliant scholars from areas outside of PER that we felt could enhance our work. We felt a sense of urgency around bringing some of these important ideas to the forefront within our community. Through affect gang, I made a few friends that I enjoyed spending time with and that were willing to collaborate with me on such an endeavor. This was part of the collective momentum that launched me into co-organizing PERC 2012 on “Cultural perspectives on learners' performance & identity in physics” in Philadelphia. In the end, I would be 8-months pregnant with my first child when PERC actually happened. 

A subset of "Affect Gang" at PERC 2012 in Philadelphia, PA: Brian Danielak, Ayush Gupta, Jennifer Richards, Vashti Sawtelle, Jessica Watkins, Chandra Turpen, Lama Jaber, and Luke Conlin (left to right)

A subset of "Affect Gang" at PERC 2012 in Philadelphia, PA: Brian Danielak, Ayush Gupta, Jennifer Richards, Vashti Sawtelle, Jessica Watkins, Chandra Turpen, Lama Jaber, and Luke Conlin (left to right)

So, what did organizing PERC entail? 

We started by making a long list of potential plenary speakers. We read and discussed some of their notable papers, and decided on plenary speakers. We sent out invitations and coordinated some of their travel arrangements with them and AAPT. In collaboration with Lyle Barbato, we (a) solicited, reviewed, and selected proposals for parallel sessions, (b) reviewed PERC poster submissions and (c) developed a conference schedule and conference program.  We coordinated with Cerena Cantrell at AAPT regarding conference room arrangements, AV requirements, and internet needs. We mapped out creative solutions for accommodating the unexpected multitude of contributed posters (more than 200) that were submitted that year.

What went wrong along the way? 

Of course, organizing was quite a bit more work than I expected, but we had a strong team of organizers (Ayush Gupta, Eleanor Sayre, Jessica Watkins, and myself) all pitching in. We encountered unpredictable issues with one plenary speaker becoming ill, and weather preventing other plenary speaker from arriving when expected. This caused some panic at the time, but also created new opportunities for improvising and innovating new forms of community engagement within large plenary sessions.   

What makes it seem like a worthwhile thing to have done? 

It brought me great joy to be a part of the plenary sessions and some of the powerful community-generated parallel sessions that occurred at PERC 2012. Plenary speaker, Dr. Megan Bang, gave one of the first land acknowledgement statements recognizing indigenous communities at PERC. I experienced some community-generated parallel sessions with such deep emotional salience (such as the talk symposium organized by Apriel Hodari, “Finding a Home for All of Myself: Intersectionality in Identity Formation for Women of Color in Physics”) that I still remember them today.

Co-organizing PERC helped me to build stronger relationships and collaborations with my co-organizers (knowing that there are people in the PER community that I can rely on as partners in doing meaningful/authentic work). It was inspiring to see the great interest that this conference theme elicited within the PER community and adjacent science education/DBER communities (there were 345 registered attendees at PERC that year, whereas the 5 year average before that was about 218 per year). In the following years, I’ve gotten occasional positive feedback from PER community members -- some appreciating the interactive plenary session that we improvised the night before, and others sharing that this was one of the first PERCs they attended and that it made them want to make this their professional “home.” It has been rewarding for me to see the generativity of organizing such community events, and seeing traces of the plenary speakers’ scholarship get taken up in subsequent PER projects and publications. 

 

I look forward to learning with and from others in our community as they step forward to take on this important role in our community. Trust me, this is a thing that you too, can do.

Tags: PERC  conference  organizing  


Organizing a PERC: Comments from an Organizer Waist Deep in the Process

posted by Steve Maier, Northwestern Oklahoma State on December 12, 2019 at 1:03

Curious on how an organizer got involved? Here's the origin story of how Steve Maier became a PERC 20/20 co-organizer.

If you are interested in organizing PERC 2021, go to this post for all the details.

Romanticizing a bit

Steve Maier and Beth Cunningham looking at a concept map with colorful rectangles

Steve Maier and Beth Cunningham looking at a concept map with colorful rectangles

At the PERC 2018 evening poster session, I was visiting with presenters and weaving in and out of the traffic of thought provoking conversations, just like most everyone else.  Then at the end of the rows of posters, between the cash bar and the PERLOC “office hours,” I saw an otherwise blank wall divider with a few sheets of paper pinned to it. It was an open call for ideas for future PERCs!  Curiosity of others’ ideas drew me in...  

Reading the posted notes and remaining in the moment, there was something about that unassuming bulletin board that opened PER up to me in a new way.  Anyone could post an idea, as if to say that anyone engaged in PERC could serve as an organizer -- not just PER’s “heavy hitters.”  I shook my head at the thought, knowing my role in PER has been one of an onlooker and practitioner rather than a shaker and a mover.  Still, I added my own note about “pedagogical diffusion” because the notion of disciplines cross-pollinating and impacting one another resonates with me and I wondered if it did with others, too. 

Overcoming “obstacles”

That act, along with conversations with others, eventually led to becoming part of an organizing team and recruiting additional organizers to submit a PERC proposal draft.  The ins and outs of those interactions aren’t really fodder for a page turning newsstand novel, but here’s a quick rundown:  

  • Time was spent deliberating over whether or not the task was in my wheelhouse--so I hesitated  
  • Like everyone else, I have a lot of responsibilities that tax my time--so I had reservations
  • I’m more of a PER wallflower than recognized for publications/grants--so I had doubts
  • Deep down, I knew that committing to this effort would force me to engage in the community in a new ways--so I had motivation

In my case, motivation alone would likely not have been enough.  However, other PERC 20/20 organizers were (and remain) instrumental in helping me recognize there are meritable roles I can fill.  Encouraging me to pursue my own spaces to contribute to PERC 20/20, the organizing team has provided a form of validation that I suspect will always be a highlight for me.  I only hope I am returning the favor, because I am quite grateful.

And now, the realities of organizing...

Lin Ding, Steve Maier, and Beth Cunningham working on PERC 20/20, at PERC 2019

Lin Ding, Steve Maier, and Beth Cunningham working on PERC 20/20, at PERC 2019

Working on the main theme, brainstorming about our own spin on things, and working out the finer details with members of the organizing committee has required video conferences, email exchanges, and in-person conversations that would not have taken place otherwise.  While rewarding, these take time. And my advice would be that if you’re seriously considering organizing a PERC, be prepared to engage and set aside regular time in your schedule to do “PERC work.” It will not happen on its own.

Wrapping up with a pep talk

Steve Maier and Alexis Knaub, working on creating the blog during the 2019 summer meeting.

Steve Maier and Alexis Knaub, working on creating the blog during the 2019 summer meeting.

And, if permitted to be so bold, I would say this: If you’re a regular contributor, practitioner, or participant of PER, PERC needs you--consider becoming an organizer.  But there’s a less obvious and more salient point I’d like to draw from my perspective. So I’ll repackage the above statement in a way that helped motivate me to step forward: If you find yourself really looking forward to PERCs, its themes, and enjoy thinking critically about the sessions in the weeks/months following the return trip home, then PERC needs you.  This is especially the case if your voice is one that is not the most prominent in PER. Organizers interact in PER at a new level, making new connections and establishing new collaboratives. Your perspective could provide just the looking glass others may need to carry the discipline further.

Tags: PERC  conference  organizing  


Call for PERC 2021 Proposals

posted by On behalf of PERLOC on December 5, 2019 at 4:07

PERLOC (Physics Education Research Leadership and Organizing Council) is soliciting organizers for the 2021 PERC in Washington, D.C.  If you are interested in organizing and you have an idea for a theme that will be of interest to our community, we’d love to hear from you! If you have any questions please feel free to email Erin Scanlon (erin.scanlon@ucf.edu), Chandra Turpen (turpen@umd.edu), or Vashti Sawtelle (vashti.sawtelle@gmail.com). Below we briefly describe what organizing PERC entails. More  info is here http://tiny.cc/PERC2021_Solicitation.  

 

Details on previous PERCs may be found at www.compadre.org/per/perc. If you want to learn more about organizing PERC before submitting a proposal, you can reach out to prior PERC organizers. 

What is the role of a PERC Organizer?

PERC organizational teams work with AAPT staff  and PERLOC to:

  • Developing the PERC theme
  • Soliciting plenary speakers
  • Managing all sessions at PERC

Soliciting plenary speakers, manage parallel sessions and juried talks, and support any other activities they feel will enhance the experience of the PERC attendees. Note that the juried talk process is relatively new and may still be undergoing revision. Additionally, there are some logistical components that are the responsibility of the PERC organizers, typically in partnership with AAPT staff; these include updating the PERC website and program, coordinating space and accessibility requirements for sessions and travel for invited speakers, coordinating deadlines with the PERC Proceedings editors, being aware of spending, and communicating about PERC to the PER community. 

To support the PERC organizers and to ensure PERC runs smoothly, PERLOC has created a standing PERC Coordination Committee. This committee consists of the PERC organizers, a member of PERLOC, relevant members of the AAPT staff, and a PERC Proceedings editor. 

How do I submit a proposal?

Interested teams should submit their 1-3 page proposals describing the organizers’ experiences with conference organization, the theme’s relevance to PER, and the vision for what the PERC theme will entail, including speakers and potential sessions, in PDF format by December 9, 2019 to Vashti Sawtelle (vashti.sawtelle@gmail.com) with email subject line “PERC 2021 proposal”. You can also send questions about the proposal process to Vashti.

What happens after I submit a proposal?

PERLOC reviews all proposals and selects the organizing team with consideration for: 

  • Relevance and importance of the theme to the PER community 
  • Connection of the theme to new perspectives and/or outside communities 
  • Timeliness of the theme 
  • Thoroughness and feasibility of the proposal 
  • Ability of the team to execute the proposal 

PERLOC will officially announce its selection at the next AAPT Winter Meeting.


Re: Call for PERC 2021 Proposals - December 05 2019 4:14
Steve Maier
79 Posts

This was originally designed to be a separate blog post, but I did not want to take away priority or add too much to the length of the call for proposals.  So I'm adding it here as a reply.

Organizing a PERC: Comments from an Organizer Waist Deep in the Process

Romanticizing a bit

At the PERC 2018 evening poster session, I was visiting with presenters and weaving in and out of the traffic of thought provoking conversations, just like most everyone else.  Then at the end of the rows of posters, between the cash bar and the PERLOC “office hours,” I saw an otherwise blank wall divider with a few sheets of paper pinned to it. It was an open call for ideas for future PERCs!  Curiosity of others’ ideas drew me in...  

Reading the posted notes and remaining in the moment, there was something about that unassuming bulletin board that opened PER up to me in a new way.  Anyone could post an idea, as if to say that anyone engaged in PERC could serve as an organizer -- not just PER’s “heavy hitters.”  I shook my head at the thought, knowing my role in PER has been one of an onlooker and practitioner rather than a shaker and a mover.  Still, I added my own note about “pedagogical diffusion” because the notion of disciplines cross-pollinating and impacting one another resonates with me and I wondered if it did with others, too. 

Overcoming “obstacles”

That act, along with conversations with others, eventually led to becoming part of an organizing team and recruiting additional organizers to submit a PERC proposal draft.  The ins and outs of those interactions aren’t really fodder for a page turning newsstand novel, but here’s a quick rundown:  

  • Time was spent deliberating over whether or not the task was in my wheelhouse--so I hesitated  
  • Like everyone else, I have a lot of responsibilities that tax my time--so I had reservations
  • I’m more of a PER wallflower than recognized for publications/grants--so I had doubts
  • Deep down, I knew that committing to this effort would force me to engage in the community in a new ways--so I had motivation

In my case, motivation alone would likely not have been enough.  However, other PERC 20/20 organizers were (and remain) instrumental in helping me recognize there are meritable roles I can fill.  Encouraging me to pursue my own spaces to contribute to PERC 20/20, the organizing team has provided a form of validation that I suspect will always be a highlight for me.  I only hope I am returning the favor, because I am quite grateful.

And now, the realities of organizing...

Working on the main theme, brainstorming about our own spin on things, and working out the finer details with members of the organizing committee has required video conferences, email exchanges, and in-person conversations that would not have taken place otherwise.  While rewarding, these take time. And my advice would be that if you’re seriously considering organizing a PERC, be prepared to engage and set aside regular time in your schedule to do “PERC work.” It will not happen on its own.

Wrapping up with a pep talk

And, if permitted to be so bold, I would say this: If you’re a regular contributor, practitioner, or participant of PER, PERC needs you--consider becoming an organizer.  But there’s a less obvious and more salient point I’d like to draw from my perspective. So I’ll repackage the above statement in a way that helped motivate me to step forward: If you find yourself really looking forward to PERCs, its themes, and enjoy thinking critically about the sessions in the weeks/months following the return trip home, then PERC needs you.  This is especially the case if your voice is one that is not the most prominent in PER. Organizers interact in PER at a new level, making new connections and establishing new collaboratives. Your perspective could provide just the looking glass others may need to carry the discipline further.



Aligning my PER Identity to my institution and my institution’s culture

posted by Mel Sabella, Chicago State on November 24, 2019 at 6:32

My identity in PER and my identity as a physics teacher have changed quite a bit during along my physics path.  I completed my bachelors degree at a teaching focused university then went to large research universities for my PhD and Postdoc, then began my position as a professor  at Chicago State University (CSU), a Predominantly Black Institution (PBI) focused on teaching. Different institutional strengths, identity, and culture means that PER looks different at different institutions and it is  important that the community values the different kinds of ways that we all engage in PER. 

I found Physics Education Research (PER) while in graduate school at the University of Maryland.   I had the opportunity to teach a bit as an undergraduate and knew I really enjoyed it. Once I got to Maryland in 1994, I sought out Joe Redish and started doing volunteer work for the Physics Education Research Group (PERG).  I really enjoyed the work and the idea that research needs to accompany instructional material development just made so much sense! I decided to get my PhD in PER. For me, there was not really any physics topic that really excited me - it was more about the critical thinking, the problem solving, the getting stuck - doing a bunch of work - and then having a breakthrough - that was what I loved and continue to love about physics.  I also really liked working with students and being creative in thinking about instructional material development. PER really aligned well with the aspects of physics I loved the most.   

After Maryland, I went to the University of Washington for a postdoc with the Physics Education Group.  Both the groups at Maryland and Washington were wonderful and doing PER work with large research groups, where you were always bouncing ideas off of others shaped the way I engaged in the research. After my postdoc, I was fairly sure that I wanted to be at a smaller school that focused more on teaching - but I didn't want to give up research.  I also wanted to work in a big city, so applied to positions in New York, Washington DC, and Chicago. I was excited to get an offer to become an Assistant Professor at CSU. 

Chicago State is a small Predominantly Black Institution (PBI) on the southside of Chicago.  Doing PER at a university that puts teaching above research and doing it at an institution that had a very different population and culture than Maryland and Washington took some time for me to figure out.  I also didn’t have a large research group to collaborate with. Each of these differences meant that the PER work I began at CSU looked quite different to what I had done in the past. I think there is a tendency in research fields to use the way research is done at R1 institutions as something for all to emulate and strive for  - where multiple faculty, post docs, graduate and undergraduate students work together to build extensive projects with extensive research methodologies. While this is essential and necessary work in our field, it is not the only way to play contribute to PER. 

At Chicago State, I have a different set of resources than I had at Maryland and Washington.  I have an awesome community who share common values around supporting student learning. I get to work with awesome undergraduate researchers who keep me excited about the work, get us moving in cool research directions that I would not have thought of, and do great work. I have awesome collaborators in STEM Education and a group of colleagues that put student support and success first. So, with different resources, my PER work and approach looks different than it looks at R1 universities.   

The focus of my research also changed to place more value on the culture of my institution. When I first got to Chicago State, I worked on setting up an education research lab and began focusing on assessing student understanding of various physics topics, following the implementation of the Tutorials in Introductory Physics.  This was an extension of what I had done for graduate and postdoc work. I started to recognize that my students were really using the resource of community in the classroom - they were excited to do group work from the start of class.  The work began to focus on the strengths and resources my students were bringing to the classroom and this remains the central focus of our work. While I still consider my field to be PER, I dont have the specific resources to do extensive R1-style studies- but Im very happy using the tools of Physics Education research to do small focused studies and tell stories of leveraging student strengths to create better classroom spaces.  The Physics Teacher and the PER Conference Proceedings have been great venues for the dissemination of our work - these avenues of publication fit best for the type of work we do. CSU undergraduate researchers have accompanied me at AAPT and PERC since I started at CSU and my research students often present their education research work in these spaces.  

My PER identity has shifted quite a bit from when I was a graduate student to now, both in terms of scope and focus. I really enjoy the research narratives I am co-constructing with undergraduate researchers and colleagues at Chicago State University.  While it may not be the type of extensive studies of large research groups with more person-power, I think the work we do is important. I also think that as a PER Community, it’s important to value the diverse types of work that different institutions are doing - and keep thinking about broad approaches to share research and explore diverse measures for evaluating research success. I think this is especially important as the PER community, that largely started at R1 institutions,  is now at many types of institutions. There is great PER work coming out of a variety of institutions, from K-12 to Colleges and Universities, that we sometimes don’t see. Sometimes we don't see this work because of the differences in institutional status - sometimes it’s because the traditional, recognized, dissemination avenues don't align with particular work or don't align with the different reward structures at different institutions. It’s important that we are open and attentive to these differences and create spaces for all to share their specific flavor of PER. 

Tags: History  identity  institution type  


Mel Sabella, msabella@csu.edu, Chicago State University - Professor of Physics

PER: Stepping back and looking back

posted by Bob Beichner, North Carolina State University on October 28, 2019 at 11:08
As many of you know, I’ve experienced a relatively recent but substantial shift in my career orientation. (I’ve become a hospital chaplain. Interesting and fulfilling work, but that’s for a different blog or even a face-to-face conversation.) Anyway, the process of becoming a...

Tags: history  conference  APS  research  teaching  


I’m in PER because of lucky circumstances, should it be that way?

posted by Nicholas Young, Michigan State on October 22, 2019 at 2:39
In late September, I took part in a science communication conference for physics and astronomy graduate students. It was the start of a breakout session, so naturally the moderator had each of us introduce ourselves and what we hoped to achieve through our science communication efforts. When it...

Tags: identity  PER  science communication  


Re: I’m in PER because of lucky circumstances, should it be that way? - October 22 2019 4:05
Alexis Knaub
12 Posts

This has me thinking about how much luck or chance has played a role in my life, along with systematic matters that play a role in the odds of x or y thing happening.

I'm also thinking about people I encounter who have few interactions with academics. There are a lot of great free resources out there, and yet people may not know because they're not in the PER network.



Helen Mae Cothrel: PER Identity as Its Constituent Parts, not Just P+E+R

posted by Helen Mae Cothrel, Kettering University on October 15, 2019 at 4:13
My PER identity begins at my identity. I am a young, queer, disabled woman with mental illness working in a field in which I am far outnumbered. It continues through my educator identity (I knew I wanted to be some kind of teacher about a decade before I ever took a physics class) and my physics...

Tags: Identity  Solo PER  


PER Identity and Sense of Belonging

posted by Susan Rundell Singer, Rollins College on September 30, 2019 at 1:49
I’m contributing to this blog as a biology education researcher (BER) and a higher education changemaker. Boundary crossing has enriched my career at all stages. In  the context of PER, the early leadership and methodologies of the research community have informed my own work and...

Tags: identity  biology education research  SOTL  


A mailing list and identity

posted by Michael Wittmann, University of Maine on September 25, 2019 at 9:47
In some private conversations, recently, I’ve been unpacking some stories about the past of PER, told from the perspective of someone who was a grad student in the mid to late 90s. That was not quite the first wave of grad students getting their PhDs in physics departments while doing PER,...

Tags: History  identity  


— Michael Wittmann, UMaine PER and RiSE Center

Re: A mailing list and identity - October 03 2019 5:12
Steve Maier
79 Posts

I really enjoyed reading and re-reading this post!  There's reminiscing, historical content, and one can get a sense of the bustle of the fomenting of PER, all leading full circle to due attention to noticing changes that have occurred in the PER community over time.  I recall being actively engaged in PhysLrnr (more as a reader, soaking up the conversations--of which there were many!), while also trying to find my place in the PER landscape. 

Your last paragraph really spoke to me, and I believe it is on-point with the PERC 20/20 theme.  In one sense, there's a subdued sense of loss as to an atmosphere or how things may have been some time ago.  But the fact that what's "old" today still seems as fresh as yesterday is refreshing.  What are the venues are out there today that can facilitate the sense of wonder and excitement that helped so many identify with PER?  How do we keep them (young PER & the venues) going; how do we identify new venues and embrace growth/change?  



More Computational Physics Education Research Please

posted by Todd Zimmerman, University of Wisconsin-Stout on September 22, 2019 at 4:44
Before you read any further, stop and answer the following question for yourself: Where does computation fall in the experimental physics/theoretical physics paradigm? As an undergrad I know I viewed the computer as a fancy calculator that fell firmly in the theoretical physics side of...

Tags: computation physics education  research areas  


Laura McCullough: Physics(?) Education(?) Research(!)

posted by Laura McCullough, University of Wisconsin-Stout on September 12, 2019 at 4:48
Identity is always a strange beast. In various classes and workshops, when people ask me to define myself in one word, the best I can come up with is “Laura”. My husband says when he met me, when I was 16 years old, I already wanted to be a college physics professor. That goal guided...

Tags: PER  identity  APS  AAPT  research  teaching  


The First PERC?

posted by Steve Maier, Northwestern Oklahoma State on August 9, 2019 at 3:57
Photo of people at the first PERC in 1997 Did you know PERC 1997 was the first PERC paired with AAPT?  It was framed as a workshop that ran 2 days prior to the 1997 summer AAPT meeting. There were 65 registrants (a set limit) and the schedule can be found here:...

Tags: PERC  conference  history  

Attached File: perc1997b.jpg


Re: The First PERC? - August 12 2019 10:29
Michael Wittmann
13 Posts

To add to some historical context, the 1997 meeting was inspired in large part by the "gap day" that was organized between the International Conference on Undergraduate Physics Education (ICUPE 1996) and the AAPT meeting held in College Park, MD at the University of Maryland. The ICUPE itself was fabulous success, with a large 2 volume conference proceedings with some fabulous papers - but people also recognized that there were problems with the conference-based publishing model (see below). I should say that the 1996 ICUPE (and this mindset of PER-focused conferences) was preceded by the 1991 Bremen conference (again, really influential conference proceedings in the 90s) and the 1992 or 1993 conference on the use of computers in physics. 

Among other things, the first ad hoc organization of grad students in physics education research was put together during the ICUPE/AAPT "interval day." You can see that history at http://www.physics.umd.edu/perg/gsper/gsper.htm in a hilariously 90s web page.

The interval day was also a place for a very important discussion about journals for PER, which planted the seeds for the Physics Education Research Supplement in AJP, which then started up soon after and was seen as a bridge to something, nobody knew what, but eventually became with Phys Rev PER. 

Given the success of the 1996 interval day, a PERC seemed possible (and the cut-off of 65 people was so ambitious! were there even 65 who could attend?!). I am sure I have notes and stories from all the early PERCs, being lucky enough to have been in Joe Redish's research group at the time. If you want more of the historical context of the PERCs, he's definitely one to ask about the precursor meetings. It was a fun time to be in PER. There's more on this broader picture at https://www.aapt.org/aboutaapt/history/AAPT-History-PER.cfm for those who want to know more.

It's also crazy fun to go to https://www.per-central.org/perc/ and click on the conference websites for each of the early PERCs. I was struck by the content of the 1999 meeting, but the others are just as good...

Tags: PERC  conference  history  


— Michael Wittmann, UMaine PER and RiSE Center


Re: The First PERC? - September 05 2019 1:59
Laura McCullough
2 Posts

At the grad student session, I remember Andy Johnson (then at San Diego State U) saying he was thinking that his dissertation topic would be "how do people learn?". We, his fellow grad students, suggested he work on focusing that down a little. It still makes me smile to think of this.



PERC 20/20 Organizers on PER Identity

posted by Beth Cunningham, AAPT; Lin Ding, The Ohio State University; Alexis V. Knaub, Michigan State; and Steve Maier, Northwestern Oklahoma State on July 12, 2019 at 1:21
Intro You may ask what this Blog is for? Well, we—the 2020 PERC Organizing Committee—have been working hard to prepare our community for the incoming conference next year. As you may already know, the theme of the 2020 PERC is about the history, current and future of physics education...

Tags: PERC 20/20 Organizers  PER Identity