This morning I got up at 3am, contemplated how much more I like going to bed at 3am, and then loaded myself into a car to go to the airport. Several hours of travel and one nap later, I am mostly coherent in Greensboro, NC where I am attending the summer meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Tomorrow I will be giving an all day workshop on using small telescopes for research, and on Tuesday morning I’ll be showing a digitally recorded presentation I recorded of Dr. Kimberly Shaw, a colleague of mine whose on maternity leave and thus couldn’t be here in person. This is a short conference and a small conference with no news events or press releases. Mostly, it’s just people sharing ideas on how to teach physics (and occasionally astronomy and space science) more effectively. Over the next several days I’ll be sharing some of my insights on what I’m seeing and hearing, and sharing with you the presentation from my workshop.
So far the only observation I have to offer is this: Physics teachers attending AAPT have way more time on their hands than astronomy researchers (science and education researchers both lumped in there) attending AAS. In our welcoming packet there was a sudoku puzzle and stamp collection grid. The idea is this: attendees sit down, complete the sudoku, and then go around the exhibitor hall and get people to stamp their sheet. When they are done, they turn it in so they can potentially win a drawing for a prize that isn’t listed. At most conferences, I’m usually lucky if I to get to linger over lunch with friends. The idea that it is expected I’ll have time to sit and solve puzzles amuses me and tells me this is a much more laid back conference than I’m used to.
On an entirely unrelated note, the Mars Rovers are still making it in the dust (but they need a good gust of wind to clear their solar panels of grime). Check out NASA’s lasted update here.