Week 3: Another Fine Potpourri of a Week

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Friday, June 28, 2013


Christine O'Donnell

While my week was semi-calm, it was a busy week for AAPT. Tuesday through Thursday was the semi-annualworkshop for new astronomy and physics faculty. The goal of the workshop is to encourage new faculty members to be better and more effective teachers. I attended a few of the sessions to learn about some of the new techniques they’re encouraging new faculty to try.

The other exciting event was attending the House Subcommittee on Space hearing about the NASA Authorization Act of 2013 (good summaries of the hearing are here and here). Many were critical of the budget numbers, including all the Democrats and several Republicans (though not all), since the budget did not seem to match what would be needed to accomplish the goals outlined in the legislation (e.g., sending humans to Mars). Both sides were supportive of a prohibition preventing NASA from following the Obama administration’s proposed STEM education program reorganization which would eliminate many NASA education programs. Many members felt that additional hearings were needed on parts of the draft, and the Republicans appeared to be split on support for the draft.

Other than those events, I’ve been working more on advocacy resources and set a preliminary timeline to improve my focus. I’m also starting to think about the AAPT Summer Meeting in Portland in July. I will give a short talk to the AAPT Section Representatives about the work I’m doing and encourage them to be effective advocates. Finally, I’ve been working more on developing advocacy strategies for specific issues (to go along with the resources as examples).

On a lighter note, we visited the Newseum last weekend. I hadn’t been there since they moved it to DC, and the new location was intriguing. It’s on Pennsylvania Avenue down the road from the Capitol (reinforcing media as the “4th branch” of government perhaps?), and has excellent exhibits, including an archive room with historical newspapers. Well worth a visit for anyone in DC :) We may visit other museums this weekend, and it should be a lot of fun, as always.