Adopt-a-Physicist connects high school physics students to real physics graduates who are eager to share their stories. Working in areas ranging from particle physics research to freelance writing, the participating physicists embody a huge range of careers, backgrounds, interests, and educational levels. Adopt-a-Physicist connects classes with the physicists of their choice through online discussion forums that are active for a set three-week period. Each physicist can only be "adopted" by up to three classes, making lively, in-depth discussions possible.
Adopt-a-Physicist aims to:
- Engage high school physics students and teachers in exploring the benefits of studying physics.
- Encourage physics graduates to give-back by sharing their experiences with students.
- Advance the dialogue between the physics and the high school education communities.
High school classes "adopt" up to 5 physics graduates (from here on referred to as physicists, although most do not carry that title professionally) of their choice from a large pool of profiles.
During a set three-week period, each physicist hosts a discussion forum populated by the classes that have adopted him or her (three at most). Students are free to ask questions that they find meaningful, for example questions on hobbies, careers, and daily life are welcome. Students and physicists are encouraged to post multiple times weekly and are often surprised at the many things they have in common.
For many students, the Adopt-a-Physicist experience culminates in a presentation or paper about the physicists they have gotten to know. According to teacher feedback, one of the most common student reactions to participating is, "I never realized that physicists were real people, like us!" Written by a teacher, the Adopt-a-Physicist Teacher's Guide provides practical suggestions for implementing Adopt-a-Physicist in the classroom and assessing participation.
For many physicists, the Adopt-a-Physicist experience is a welcome chance to reflect on their experiences and share their love of physics with students. Many cite the wanting "to give back" as a motivation for joining, and having fun as a reason for coming back! The Adopt-a-Physicist Physicist's Guide provides practical suggestions for hosting a successful forum.
Adopt-a-Physicist is a service provided by Sigma Pi Sigma (ΣΠΣ), the physics honor society, in collaboration with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), and ComPADRE. It is supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation and the American Physical Society Campaign for Physics.
View the Teacher Packet.
View the Physicist Packet.
The Adoption Process
Physicists and teachers register and create a profile. This requires a ComPADRE account. ComPADRE accounts are free, require only a name and email address, and give the registrant access to all ComPADRE resources. Further information such as school/employer and contact information is required for Adopt-a-Physicist, but will not be used for any other purpose.
Once registration has closed, teachers can search the profiles of registered physicists (by career, research area, degree level, etc.) and "adopt" physicists that interest their students. Teachers will be notified when it's time to choose their physicists.
The forums are active for a three-week period and all types of questions are welcome!
- Discussions Archived
The discussion forums close after a 3-week period; however transcripts of the conversations are archived and will remain accessible.
You can contact the Adopt-a-Physicist staff using the feedback form.
Special requests can be sent to email@example.com.
Andrew M. Zeidell, Sigma Pi Sigma