Best conference *ever*

by Stephanie Chasteen on July 25, 2008

So, we’re almost to the end of my spate of posts from the AAPT (American Association of Physics Teachers) conference (and yes, I promise I’ll get back to more general-interest stuff).  I just have to say that this last conference was one of the most stimulating I’ve ever been to.  Best conference ever!  Also the most poorly organized, but you can’t have everything.

There were so many sessions that interested me, from using art to communicate science, to how students think about math, to the effect of the type of questions TA’s ask of students.  And I could understand them.  I’m used to going to huge conferences (like the American Physical Society or Material Research Society), where you only understand the first 2 minutes of the talk (if you’re lucky).  Those conferences are always a tease — you read the abstract and get excited about learning something cool about, say, superconductors, and then you go to the talk, quickly lost, and you feel that if you just knew more you might learn something new.  So you sit in these unsatisfying sessions, paying half-attention and perusing the program looking for something to make you happy, wandering from talk to talk and never quite finding what you’re looking for.  Hmm, sounds like dating…

This conference, on the other hand was – interesting – understandable – and friendly!  People in the physics education community are, well, so nice.  They’re in the field because they care for people and their world.  Wonderful bunch.  I made friends at this conference, which has never happened to me at a conference.  In part, it’s a smaller conference than the huge physics conferences (you have NO idea if you haven’t been to one — at any one moment there are generally about 20+ talks happening simultaneously.  Thousands of physicists.  Geekfest.)

So, a big thanks to everyone in the physics education community for being so cool and doing such excellent work.  And for being fun.

Now, once I finish nursing this hangover, I’ll finish up those blog posts on the conference.  <grin>

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