Research addressing the gender imbalance in physics highlights the importance of a physics teacher recognizing a female student as being a "physics person." But what does this recognition look like? To examine this question, Hazari and Cass collected video recordings, field notes, interviews, and surveys from high-school physics teachers and students and developed a case study of a student who, because of her teacher's modes of recognition, began to see herself as a physics person. Results show that although the teacher did not perceive the student as a physics person, the student felt another way based on her perception of his actions (she believed her teacher saw her as a physics person), suggesting that regardless of what teachers themselves believe, their behaviors can enable students' physics identity development.
In this photograph taken on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010, clickers are shown in the use of students in the physics class of Professor Michael Dubson at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo. One of the two classes I'm teaching this term is our sophomore-level "modern physics" class, which richly deserves its scare quotes. "Modern physics" in an educational context means, essentially, "Physics from 1900-1950." It's a brief introduction to Special Relativity, followed by some introductory quantum physics, and a smattering of applications (solid state, nuclear) as time permits. Some of the examples we use to illustrate key points are modern in the more colloquial sense -- there have been a lot of spectacular basic-quantum-physics experiments in the last 20-ish years -- but the core principles of everything we talk about were locked down in the first half of the previous century.
"In terms of math performance, girls score as well as boys from elementary school through high school and, in the U.S., earn roughly half of the undergraduate degrees in mathematics," Janet Hyde, one of the study's authors and the co-director of the longitudinal Wisconsin Study of Families and Work, said via email. "The gender gaps are in physics, computer science, and engineering … Only a minority of students take physics in high school -- a big mistake -- and girls are less likely to take physics courses than boys are."
The only thing I know about the Freeze is that no one can beat the Freeze (except with a generous head start). In case you haven't seen, the Freeze is this guy in a turquoise spandex suit that challenges mere mortals to a race in the outfield of the Atlanta Braves SunTrust Park between innings. Overall, this seems like a great physics problem. It's a variation of "a train leaves from Chicago traveling at 20 mph while a train leaves from New York traveling at 40 mph--where do they meet?" But the physics is the same.