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Creighton University to Host National Physics Teachers Conference

Creighton University’s campus will soon be home to more than 900 physics teachers from around the country – and that’s a lot of physicists – relatively speaking.

Creighton University is the host institution for the 2011 American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Summer Meeting July 30-Aug. 3.

The theme for this year’s event is “Communicating Physics Outside the Classroom,” and Jack Gable, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics at Creighton, said communicating the science can be a challenge for physics teachers. “We look at things differently than most people and while our terms and topics makes perfect sense to us, it may sound like something from a science fiction novel to others. Communicating the power and beauty of physics to those not intent on learning the science can be a challenge.”

The AAPT Summer Meeting will focus on the art – or science – of talking about physics with a larger audience. Highlights of the meeting include an Omaha energy tour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on July 30, hosted by Creighton’s new energy technology program. The tour will explore the innovative educational programs and institutional partnerships on alternative energy throughout the greater metropolitan Omaha area.

At the “Synergy” networking session for high school teachers at 3:15 p.m. on Aug 2 , Xiaoyou He, vice president for Academic Affairs at the Nanjing Arts Institute in Nanjing, China, will discuss the innovative educational programs China is fostering in green energy.

Other events include:

Science and Religion: Recent interchanges between science and religion have sparked serious interest and conversation. Science educators have an investment in these discussions, not just because they impact public school curricular policy - curious students and colleagues often raise questions whose answers require examining subtle distinctions. Sessions

Communicating Climate Change: Jim Hansen the “father of global warming,” will present the latest in communicating with the public on this critical issue from the Late Show to his book, Storms of My Grandchildren, during the Klopsteg Memorial Award Lecture. Signed copies of his book will be awarded to randomly chosen attendees.

Spacetime Physics: One of the greatest challenges in communicating the physics of relativity is the unfamiliar concept of spacetime. Panel participants Edwin Taylor, (Exploring Black Holes), Anne Cox (Physlet Quantum Physics), and Thomas Moore (Six ideas that Shaped Physics) will present their insights into teaching spacetime physics.

Educating the Larger Public About Science 
Lessons from Public Institutions: A number of public scientific institutions (national laboratories, museums, planetariums, etc.) make extraordinary contributions to improving the public’s science literacy. This session focuses on some of the successes achieved (and challenges faced) by people doing science outreach in these settings, and the present relationship between more traditional forms of science education and these public institutions.

Creighton University is a Jesuit, Catholic university bridging health, law, business and the arts and sciences for a more just world.