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Physics Teachers from Rural Areas Meet at FSU

Physics teachers from the tri-state area recently attended the Rural Initiative of the Physics Teaching Resource Agents (PTRA) held on the campus of Frostburg State University.

The Rural PTRA program, funded by National Science Foundation and administered by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), is designed as an in-service training for science teachers and acts as a resource for instructors to network with colleagues from local rural areas.

James Nelson, principal investigator and president of AAPT, led the weeklong FSU workshop. Other leaders included Jane Nelson, Robert Morse and David Spitzer. Participants consisted of teachers from rural areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Their schools ranged from elementary to high school levels.

The teachers participated in hands-on, minds-on, inquiry-based activities and experiments. They learned to use the state-of-the-art computer interface and equipment in FSU’s new Compton Science Center to take real-time data and analysis. Some of the activities were exploring the Vernier Sonic Ranger, LabPro, Physlets and physics of toys, as well as building fan-carts for kinematics and dynamics experiments. The teachers will bring their knowledge to their classrooms in the fall.

“Many pre-college teachers do not have the opportunity to further their study or expand their knowledge and teaching skills of physics,” says Francis Tam, FSU physics professor and coordinator of the conference. “That’s why the Rural Initiative of the Physics Teaching Resource Agents is a national treasure.”

There will be two follow-up, one-day workshops in the fall and spring. The teachers will share their plans of action and assess their effectiveness in the classrooms. The Rural PTRA program is a three-year program. There will be openings for next year. If interested, contact Tam at 301-687-4165 or

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589