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Classroom Acoustics Experiments August 15, 2015

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Here is a quick background and description of classroom acoustics experiments.   The analysis part is probably a little deprecated at this point.

Science Policy Resources August 6, 2015

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How Congress Works

How Congress Works: Tying It All Together: Learn about the Legislative Process
Source: OpenCongress.org

How Congress Works
Source: The Center on Congress at Indiana University

Overview of the Authorization-Appropriations Process
Source: Congressional Research Service

Authorization and Appropriation
Source: Paul Jenks, LLRX.com

AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Congress
Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Committees in the House and Senate Relevant to Science

House Committee on Science and Technology
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness
Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmospheres, Fisheries and Coast Guard
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

The Federal Science Budget

Introduction to the Federal Budget Process
Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities

Budget 101 – A guide to the federal budget-making process
Source: The Washingtonpost.com

AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program
Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Podcast on Science Funding
Professor Mike Lubell, Chair and Professor, Department of Physics
City College of the City University of New York
Director of Public Affairs
American Physical Society
Washington, DC
Source: Science Friday with Ira Flatow, January 12, 2007

How to Impact the Policy Process

Communicating with Congress
Source: American Institute of Physics

Congressional Visits Day
Source: Science-Engineering-Technology Working Group

Nonprofits and Lobbying: Yes, They Can!
Source: American Bar Association

NAFEO Advocacy Handbook
Source:National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO)

Physicists and Lobbying
Source: American Physical Society

Scientists Must Learn to Lobby
Source: THE SCIENTIST @ 1(12):9, 4 May 1987

Participate in a DC Fellowship Program

AAAS Congressional Fellowship
American Institute of Physics State Department Science Fellowship
American Institute of Physics Congressional Science Fellowship
American Physical Society Congressional Science Fellowship
American Geophysical Union Congressional Science Fellowship
Optical Society of America Congressional Science Fellowships
Jefferson Science Fellowship

The States, Research and Higher Education

State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges: Summary of a National Convocation
Source: National Academies Press

State Policy Issues for Higher Education
Source: American Association of State Colleges and Universities

Grapevine project- An annual compilation of data on state tax support for higher education
Source: Illinois State University

The NCHEMS Information Center for State Higher Education Policymaking and Analysis (The Information Center)
Source: The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems


American Association of Physicists in Medicine – Government Affairs
American Association of Physics Teachers – Public Policy
American Astronomical Association – Public Policy – Bringing policy issues to astronomers
American Geophysical Union – Science Policy
American Institute of Physics – Public Policy Center
American Physical Society – Policy and Advocacy
Association of American Universities – Policy Issues
Materials Research Society – Policy/Advocacy
National Society of Black Physicists – Policy
Optical Society of America – Public Policy
SPIE – Public Policy News
NAFEO Advocacy

Issues of Equity in Physics Access and Enrollment August 6, 2015

Posted by PER Section Chair in : History, Policy and Education (HPE), Physics Education Research (PER) , add a comment

High school physics is a gateway course for post-secondary study in science, medicine, and engineering, as well as an essential component in the formation of students’ scientific literacy.  Yet, despite reports to the contrary, the availability of physics as a course for high school students is not equitably distributed throughout the United States.

While some schools provide physics for all who wish to take it, a more common scenario is limited availability. This is particularly true in urban districts, where physics is not universally available in secondary school.  The existence of policies that restrict science opportunities for secondary students results in diminished outcomes in terms of scientific proficiency.

Recently researchers at Columbia University examined the 316 secondary schools in the New York City Public School system to identify factors related to availability of physics courses.  New York City’s (population 8.1 million) public schools system  is the largest school district in the United States, with approximately 300,000 secondary school students (15.1% White, 33.6% Black, 38.2% Hispanic, 13.0% Asian).

Overall Enrollment

Overall, physics enrollment in the 298 responding surveyed schools totals 14,935 (5.2%) out of 286,862 students. This corresponds to approximately 21% of students graduating having studied physics, which is lower than the state and national average of 31% for public schools. Analysis of the availability of physics in schools shows that access to physics is not equitably distributed – a remarkable 55% (164 of 298) of the surveyed New York City high schools simply do not offer physics as a subject. This translates to approximately 23% of the city student population not having access to any physics course in high school.

Where is Physics Available?

School size strongly influences whether physics is available. The vast majority of large high schools offer physics as a course, while fewer than half of mid-sized schools and only a quarter of the small schools do. Eliminating schools that only have grades 9 or 10 (and thus may offer physics in future years), still only 39% of small schools offer physics. Although small schools present a promising option in many respects, the question of access to advanced science courses needs to be addressed. Student graduation rates are likely to increase, but the city may actually graduate fewer physics students than they do today.

New York State leads the nation in Advanced Placement participation, with 23% of its high school graduates earning a passing score on at least one exam before graduation (the national average is 14%). Despite this prominence, AP Physics is a rarity in New York City’s public high schools, offered in only 20 (6.7%) of the surveyed schools, including all of the magnet schools.

Correlations to Race and Socioeconomic Status

The racial composition of students in schools that do not offer physics is notably different from the city as a whole, with White and Asian students much less likely to be found in these schools.Schools that offer AP Physics also show a much higher percentage representation of Asian and White students.Schools that do offer physics typically have a racial composition of 36% Black, 36% Hispanic, 15% White, and 13% Asian; schools that do not offer physics have 45% Black, 46% Hispanic, 5% White, and 5% Asian.These disparities illustrate large racial inequities in access to physics.

Socioeconomic status, measured by percent eligible for free lunch, displays a similar relationship, with poorer students having restricted access to schools that provide physics as a science option.The average percentage of students who qualified for free lunch in New York City was 69% during 2004-2005; compared with 77.7% at non-physics schools and 53.3% at schools that offer physics.

Both race and socioeconomic status are inherent factors in determining the likelihood that students have access to Advanced Placement physics in NYC. Only 33.5% of students in schools offering AP Physics are eligible for free lunch. The racial breakdown of students showed similar disparities. The percentage of White and Asian students is nearly triple the citywide average in schools that offer AP Physics, while the percentage of underrepresented minorities is 38% lower than the citywide average.Further illustrating this point, the Bronx, the poorest borough in New York City with the largest population of underrepresented minorities, has only two high schools that offer AP Physics (one is a highly selective science magnet school).

Often, students’ addresses, race, or socioeconomic status are major determining factors in whether they have the opportunity to study secondary physics at any level. This inequity in access to physics needs to be addressed in a comprehensive plan to improve science education for students in urban locales if the goal of “science for all” is to be attained. Major changes are required in schools’ structuring of physics course offerings; additionally, keeping an eye on racial and socioeconomic balance is essential in providing socially just opportunities in the study of physics. The evidence presented here is a starting point for identifying the extent of inequities in order to develop long-term reform efforts to improve physics access.

Policy Recommendations

NSBP calls for the following policies to increase access to K-12 physics courses for all students.

  1. States and the NCAA, which collects high school course data, should improve their databases of what schools are offering physics courses.  Each State should have a verifiable system of course offerings and student outcomes.
  2. In the No Child Left Behind Act or its successor, Congress should emphasize opportunity to learn and adequate funding.
  3. Congress, the States, STEM and teacher professional organizations should have mechanisms for meaningful science education standards for all K-12 schools and students.

For more information on the New York City schools study contact
Angela M. Kelly, Ph.D.
Department of Physics & Astronomy
Center for Science & Mathematics Education (CESAME)
CESAME: 094 Life Sciences Building | 631.632.7075 (office)
PHYSICS: A-141B Physics Building | 631.632.8168 (office)
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5233