Friday, September 25, 2015By:
Sean Bentley, Director of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma
The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is all about helping undergraduate students develop professionally outside of the classroom. Thus when the SPS National Council met in September, not only was the group working to shape the future of the society, it was also real-time professional development for the student members of the Council who were being immersed in leadership and communications activities. The meeting is a concentrated example of the types of activities that SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma do throughout the year, including a science talk, a major outreach activity, an induction, awards, plenty of business, and of course, fun.
The meeting kicked off with an engaging keynote by AIP CEO Robert G. W. Brown in which he highlighted many of the areas he has worked on throughout his career path, explaining some interesting science, giving insights into technology, and extracting good life lessons. Preceding the Council’s business meeting with a science talk raises the level of excitement and serves as a reminder of the context for our work.
Much of the Council’s core business and planning is performed by the committees, each of which is made up of half students and half faculty advisors. This year, committees are addressing chapter-national ties, zone meetings, Congress promotion, inclusiveness, careers, and mentors. The student leaders further took the initiative to create a new committee to examine the governance and operational documents of SPS. This reflects the energy and interest that is clearly visible in this year’s Council.
The Council, with the students taking the lead, participated in an outreach event at the H Street Festival, a bustling DC street fair. Unlike many venues in which groups typically do outreach where science activities are expected, SPS was possibly the only educational booth in a sea of music, food, and vendors. Spreading the knowledge and fun of light in such an atmosphere reaches people who are rarely exposed to such opportunities.
As the meeting wrapped up with a final social outing, the comradery developed between the students and faculty of the 2015–16 SPS National Council was evident. The group was charged with going back into their regional zones and spreading the word of SPS programs, awards, and meetings.
To steal a line from Abraham Lincoln, SPS is truly an organization “of the students, by the students, and for the students,” and this is well represented by their leadership in the National Council.