Session B3: 10,000 Undergraduate Physics Majors: Progress on Doubling

11:15 AM–2:15 PM, Monday, March 16, 2009
Room: 301/302

Sponsoring Unit: FEd
Chair: Robert Hilborn, University of Texas at Dallas

Abstract ID: BAPS.2009.MAR.B3.1

Abstract: B3.00001 : Why Do We Need 10,000 Physics Majors?

11:15 AM–11:51 AM

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  Theodore Hodapp
    (American Physical Society)

The early 1960's saw a huge increase in the number of physics majors, reaching an all time peak of just over 6000 per year. While the number plummeted in the next four decades, it has finally experienced a resurgence to nearly this number. The American Physical Society along with the American Association of Physics Teachers recently endorsed a call to double the number of undergraduate physics majors over the next decade. The main focus of this effort is to increase both the number of high school physics teachers and the fraction of women and under-represented minorities studying physics. In addition, a physics degree prepares an undergraduate with excellent skills that will serve her or him for a variety of occupations both in the sciences and in other fields. This talk will explore some of the data on physics majors and the rationale for taking the bold step of suggesting we try and educate 10,000 majors each year. Sputnik helped catalyze the nation 50 years ago -- What is the Sputnik of today? Bring your thoughts and questions... we hope for a lively discussion.

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