Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

July 17, 2000

Conference to attract physics educators from around the world

More than 1,200 high school, college and university physics teachers will be at the University of Guelph July 29 to August 2 for the American Association of Physics Teachers' annual summer meeting.

This is the first time in the association's 70-year history that the meeting is being held in Guelph. The group usually meets in the United States; its last Canadian gathering was in British Columbia in 1991.

"We are really delighted that Guelph is hosting the meeting; it's a real feather in our cap," said physics professor Ernie McFarland, who is co-chairing the host committee with fellow physics Prof. Jim Hunt. McFarland and Hunt said U of G was selected for its worldwide reputation for excellent teaching and research in physics. "This is a great opportunity for us to showcase our department and university," added Hunt, who said preparations for the event have been ongoing for more than a year.

The gathering will include workshops and tutorials that focus on teaching and curriculum issues, such as Web-based technologies, women in science, teaching reform and increasing student learning. "A constant challenge for physics teachers at any level is to help students learn material that is difficult for many of them, especially non-physics majors," McFarland said. "Quite a few of the presentations will deal with various interactive teaching techniques that are being used to engage students more actively in classes and hence improve their learning."

There will also be three plenary sessions, two of them featuring U of G researchers. Prof. John Simpson will discuss the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory and U of G's involvement in this international collaboration designed to learn more about the solar system and the universe. Fellow physics professor Eric Poisson will speak on gravitational-wave astronomy. In the third plenary session, Prof. Elaine Seymour of the University of Colorado will discuss the role of "poor teaching" in the loss of science, math and engineering majors.

The conference will also feature Guelph physics professor Ross Hallett and staff member Bill Teesdale discussing innovative aspects of physics teaching at U of G. Conference delegates will also visit department research labs and the U of G observatory.

During the week prior to the conference, about 120 high school physics teachers will attend a series of workshops at the university under the Physics Teaching Resources Agents (PTRA) program.

Contact: Prof. Ernest McFarland Department of Physics (519) 824-4120, Ext. 3653

* The workshops and sessions are open to the media. For a complete conference agenda or for media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 6982

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