Summer Internship Series #4

Our fourth internship post comes from Christine, MPP accelerated 2014.

I’m heading into the final weeks of my summer internship with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT).  AAPT has over 10,000 members spread across the globe, and so the organization has a unique strength is at the local level.  This strength is especially important for education policies since most decisions happen locally even if the original policy was implemented at the federal level.

And that’s where my work comes in: members that want to pursue advocacy need resources and tools to do it effectively, and so I’m creating a set of materials for members to use.  While creating general materials means I can’t focus on a particular issue, in some sense that’s a good thing.  AAPT needs resources that will be applicable now and in the future.  Plus, if we want to encourage members to advocate locally, it’s almost impossible to make precise strategies and plans.  Thus, I’m creating a tutorial on how to advocate effectively (sort of an Advocacy 101, if you will), examples of one-pagers and strategies, and guides for where to find data.

If you think this sounds kind of like a rehash of our first year at Batten, you’re not far off.  I’ve been applying a lot of the things we learned at Batten to help others advocate, too.

In addition to the work I’m doing for AAPT, I also get to pursue other opportunities in DC.  For example, I’ve been to

  • A poster session by the Einstein Fellows, a select group of K-12 science teachers that spend a year or two working in DC to get familiar with federal policies and efforts,

  • Hearings on Capitol Hill on science issues, including a House Subcommittee on Space hearing about their version of NASA’s reauthorization,

  • A workshop for new physics and astronomy faculty, and

  • AAPT’s Summer Meeting in Portland.

The Summer Meeting was especially cool – I had some time to be a tourist in Portland, but I also got to attend workshops and listen to really interesting talks on physics.  However, the meeting did have some policy opportunities.  I got to meet and speak to the Executive Board about the importance of advocacy resources.  Many of the Board members (and other AAPT members) are interested in advocating for education issues, but they don’t know how.  They’re eager for resources to help them achieve their goals, and so it was nice to see the interest in my work.

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be finalizing some of the materials and trying to get them online.  There was some talk about getting me to host a tutorial or workshop at the AAPT Winter Meeting in January to talk about advocacy.  Plus, during the Summer Meeting I think I managed to get involved with their Committee on Space Science & Astronomy, so it looks like I’ll be staying involved with AAPT for quite awhile!

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