AAPT High School Physics Teacher Camp

I’m so excited that I get to share this news. I’ve been working with a few of the people I met at AAPT in MN on a new, experimental addition to the summer meeting. We’ve been talking about how to make AAPT national meetings more useful, attractive, and worthwhile for high school physics teachers. Workshops are great, but because the meetings are planned so far in advance, you need to start submitting ideas for workshops up to a year and a half in advance. The deadline for giving a talk is easier to meet (a few months ahead of the meeting instead of over a year), but you only get 8 minutes to share and it isn’t really interactive. On the other hand, one of the best things about the meetings can be seeing (or meeting!) all of your physics teaching friends in person (and meeting new friends, too). Finally, the national meetings can be an expensive endeavor for a high school teacher, especially if your school can’t help support your trip. (Last summer, the #unsanctioned workshop that Casey and I led was the only event that at least one local teacher attended because they couldn’t get funding for any of the official parts of the meeting.)

How great would it be to have a day at AAPT that was designed to be totally collaborative and interactive? Where you could decide on that day what you were excited to share with other high school physics teachers? Where you had time and space to work together on a new idea?

Pretty great, right? Yes, amazingly great. And how about if it only cost $20 to attend? And if that included food for breakfast and lunch?

The Official AAPT Announcement

AAPT logo

AAPT announces the first AAPT High School Physics Teacher Camp. The Teacher Camp will be held Sunday July 26, 2015 at the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland. This coincides with the national AAPT meeting held nearby at the University of Maryland from July 25-29, 2015.

The Physics Teacher Camp is designed to be a low-cost,  organic, teacher-directed event where teachers gather to discuss topics of interest and to network, connect, and collaborate with like-minded peers. The format is inspired by the Edcamp unconference model combined with other active-learning elements. Unlike an Edcamp, however, the AAPT camp is limited to high school physics teachers. Throughout the day, breakout sessions will be held in several rooms, and participants can join any group they choose. Final discussion topics for those sessions will be decided on the day of the camp, and participants will also have a time to share something of their own with the group. Some pre-reading may be recommended based on the topics that are suggested by registrants, and time will be set aside for small-group discussions of the readings.

One session will be dedicated to “A Conversation with Eugenia Etkina.”  Dr. Etkina is a leading figure in the Physics Education Research (PER) community and has developed the ISLE and PUM curricula for teaching physics. She will give a very brief presentation about her latest work and then participate in a “town hall” style discussion with the group.

More information about the schedule and the camp can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/physicsteachercamp/

Registration is $20 and covers lunch and a light breakfast. Participation is limited to 50 teachers who will be chosen based on a very brief online application. This application can be found here. Priority will be given to high school teachers who are teaching at least one physics class in the 2015-2016 school year.

Participants are invited to register for and attend the the AAPT meeting as well, but this is not required for participation in the Teacher Camp. This experience can be extended into a 2-day professional development experience by registering for the High School Teacher Day at the AAPT meeting held the next day (Monday July 27th) and available at a smaller cost than the full meeting.  Please feel free to contact the organizers of the camp with any questions.


Sign up for camp! Tell your (physics teaching) friends!

If you are even a tenth as excited as I am about this camp, then you already know how amazing it will be. Of course, what will really make it amazing is the group of people who sign up and attend. If you are a high school physics teacher and you are planning to attend AAPT this summer, please consider signing up.

If have never attended a national AAPT meeting, definitely think about signing up. You can attend the camp by itself (a low cost, high gain scenario!), and you could also extend your PD by a day by signing up for the High School Physics Teachers’ Day (a one-day registration for Monday, the day after the camp, that costs $85, still keeping it at a relatively low cost).

If you live within an easy road trip, train ride, bike ride, etc from College Park, MD, think about signing up!

Spread the word. Tell the other physics teachers you know. If you read this blog and teach another subject, please tell the physics teacher(s) at your school or in your district. If you write your own physics teaching blog, tweet with physics teachers, participate in a physics teaching list-serv, have a physics teaching PLC, etc—please think about passing on this message. Let’s make this happen.

There’s a lot of text in this post, so now enjoy some photos of teachers participating in that #unsanctioned workshop last summer. This could be you!

unsanctioned workshop 2unsanctioned workshop 1

We (the camp planning committee) are all eager to answer questions here, on Twitter, or by email (find the contact info for everyone in the planning committee on the camp info website).

Finally, I should give a quick shout out and thank you to the people who have helped get this started—Martha, Diane, and Steve (the planning committee); my virtual PLC past and present who answered the bat signal when we needed brainstorming help; Tina and the Twitter Math Camp folks for help with ideas about innovative, teacher-led PD; the AAPT executive board for supporting this effort and making it #sanctioned; and everyone who has been tweeting, retweeting, and otherwise helping to amplify this news. Thank you! Come to camp!

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