AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 97 Communicating Astronomy
Poster, Wednesday, January 12, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[97.05] Developing a Vision for Communicating Physics, Including Astronomy, in the 21st Century

E. J. Hooper (McDonald Obs.), M. Bardeen (Fermilab), M. Barnett (LBNL), D. Campbell (Boston Univ.), R. Landsberg (Univ. Chicago), R. Ruchti (Notre Dame), E. Simmons (Michigan State Univ.), Aspen Physics E&O Workshop Collaboration

Physicists and astronomers are excited and fascinated by what they observe in nature. Sharing this excitement with students and the general public is rewarding to them as individuals and is extraordinarily beneficial for democratic societies. Educational outreach plays an increasing role in the careers of working physicists; many are already involved in outreach, and all are being encouraged by the federal granting agencies to share the excitement of their research fields with a broader audience.

A two-week workshop at the Aspen Center for Physics in the summer of 2004 brought together physicists from several disciplines, including astronomy; K-12 educators; informal science educators; developers of educational materials; as well as professional science communicators from the media and publishing worlds. The participants shared their ongoing education and outreach projects, as well as their needs and wishes, in a mixture of presentations, demonstrations, and informal discussions.

The rich panoply of education products and services produced by physicists and their organizations was apparent even from this relatively small cross-section. However, the full potential impact of these efforts may not be realized if the target audience, such as teachers, are either not aware of the opportunities or have difficulty implementing them due to time or curriculum needs. Hence, much of the discussion centered on access rather than new education initiatives. Teachers need one-stop shopping for materials and programs, as well as stronger grass-roots locally tailored partnerships with universities, research institutes, and museums. One of the proposals for addressing these and other needs is a small national virtual institute for physics education and outreach, patterned along the lines of successful virtual research institutes, such as the virtual Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter (ICAM).

EJH is supported by an NSF AAPF. The Aspen Workshop was funded by NSF's MPS Directorate, ICAM, and the APS.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www-ed.fnal.gov/aspen/index.html. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: ehooper@astro.as.utexas.edu

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