How to Get the Most Out of Your Chapter This Year

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Pathways - Advice from Experienced Voices

How to Get the Most Out of Your Chapter This Year


SPS National Office

Summer is over and the school year has started—but that also means exciting opportunities with your SPS chapter. Here are some tips to help your chapter make the most of this year.

Set big goals.

Your chapter might focus on increasing SPS membership, recruiting new physics majors, hosting outreach activities or developing new outreach tools, being more involved on campus, or attending more physics meetings and raising money to offset travel costs.

Other goals to consider:

  • Establishing or improving your SPS student lounge
  • Planning physics-related field trips
  • Increasing the number of physics majors in the department— you can visit intro-level classes and invite students to SPS events
  • Inviting faculty or senior-level students to give talks or lead lab tours

If you still need help finding direction, gather input from other chapter members, your advisor, and other nearby chapters.

Post the goals in a prominent place and revisit them at each meeting to stimulate ideas and celebrate progress.

Recognize that your chapter can be an awesome force in your physics department!

A strong and active SPS chapter can make earning a physics degree more fun, fulfilling, and productive for everyone involved.

Be consistent.

Make SPS a highly visible, important, and REGULAR part of the life and culture of your department. Whether weekly, monthly, or something in between, meetings should be at a regular, fixed time so that attending becomes a regular habit. Always invite faculty! Meetings are usually more fun with food, so add pizza, cookies, tea, or whatever your chapter prefers. With consistent meetings you are

more likely to accomplish your chapter goals and build a strong community.

Be visible!

Be visible in your department community. Make sure that everyone in the department—faculty, students at all levels, and staff—knows about SPS events and feels welcome. Research has shown that a strong sense of community within a department increases recruitment and retention, making the challenging process of earning a physics degree more enjoyable and rewarding for everyone involved.

Be visible in your campus community. SPS chapters have a history of hosting great campus events. Host a splashy demo show, pumpkin drop, or liquid nitrogen ice cream booth. Physics departments are usually small, but they can have a large impact on the culture of their institution.

Be visible in your local community. Reaching out through events provides a larger purpose for your chapter and is a great way to build community, give members teaching experience, and reinspire homework-laden physics students.

Be visible in the physics community. Start building your professional network by attending meetings, visiting laboratories and companies, joining professional physics societies, and being active in online forums. You will be amazed at the opportunities available in the broader physics community.

Join the network.

SPS is more than just local activity. SPS has thousands of members and chapters at hundreds of different institutions! Be inspired, challenged, and encouraged by SPS members from around the world virtually through Facebook and Twitter, and in person through SPS zone meetings, joint chapter activities, and professional physics meetings. These students are likely to be your future collaborators, peers, employees, and bosses, so start making connections now. Every geographic “zone” has an elected student and faculty representative whose job is to facilitate connections within their region, so reach out to them! Make sure you find out about SPS activities, meetings, awards, scholarships, internships, and more by being a dues-paying member of SPS National. 

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Pathways - Advice from Experienced Voices