The New Jersey Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (NJAAPT) is a professional organization whose focus is on physics education and educational research. The majority of NJAAPT members are high school and college faculty teaching in New Jersey. Activities include a Newsletter, Workshops, Conferences, Meetings, Sharing Sessions, Lectures, a Listserve, and a Website.

Click on “Calendar of Events” on the top menu to see the events that are offered this year.

President’s Message

President’s Message

         The Spring Meeting was a resounding success this past weekend at Princeton University.  This annual event brought our members together to hear and discuss a couple of topics that are of great importance to classroom teachers.

Friday evening’s session was a very relaxed and informal with a reception and dinner in the Joseph Henry Room.  Chuck Keeton of Rutgers University discussed the recent developments and theories relating to dark matter.  His presentation was lively paced and led to many interesting questions from the audience.

Wil van der Veen of Raritan Valley Community College addressed the Next Generation Science Standards.  With a handout for the audience to use as reference, he explained the work of the committee in a very thorough manner.  He also addressed the difficulties that could arise if the Standards are not implemented properly.

Joe Stieve drove up from his home in Virginia on Saturday morning to explain the changes in the AP Physics B curriculum.  As a seasoned workshop leader who has conducted this type of program nationwide and provided a good insight into the sequence of topics covered in the course.

At lunch, the attendees had an opportunity to converse with each other while enjoying a sumptuous meal.  A drawing for a gift certificate was won by Ann Tabor Morris of Georgian Court University and she generously donated the item to a teacher from an impoverished school district.

After lunch the group launched into three breakout sessions to discuss the NGSS, AP Physics B, and SGO’s.  They were able to select two of the three sessions to attend and to ask questions of the speakers.  The meeting concluded with a Demo Sharing Session conducted by our members.

A recap of the meeting along with the handouts can be found on our website: www.njaapt.org in the Past Events section.

I would like to thank all who attended the event and participated in organizing the program for their dedication to physics education.


Ray Polomski


Physics Olympics 2014

It was another successful year for the Physics Olympics! This year, 22 schools and 45 teams participated in the 2014 Physics Olympics.  Many schools brought student and parent observers to cheer on their school’s team.  All together, over 300 students, teachers and parents joined together to do physics on a beautiful January day.  The students competed in the following six competitions: The Fermi Question, The Catapult Event, The Cantilever Event, The Collapsing Tower of Dominoes Event, The paper Tower Event and The Paper Boomerang Event.  J. P. Stevens HS won 1st place overall while Chatham HS took 2nd overall and Monmouth Regional took 3rd overall.  The schools that won 1st place in the individual events are as follows: Fermi Question, JP Stevens HS; Boomerang, Oakcrest HS; Catapult, Manchester HS, Cantilever & Paper Tower, Chatham HS; Collapsing Tower, Monsignor Donovan HS

Sponsored by the New Jersey Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers, (NJAAPT), since the mid-1970s, the event was organized by Dr Fred Pregger and Mr. Jud Fink, retired physics professors from The College of New Jersey as well many others form NJAAPT.  The Olympics was held at The College of New Jersey until the mid–1990’s when it moved to Rutgers University, under the guidance of David Maiullo, Physics Support Specialist, Rutgers University.  From 2000 until the present, Monmouth Regional HS has sponsored the event under the guidance of Jessie Blair, retired Chairwoman of the Science Department at Monmouth Regional HS and, John Valente, Physics Instructor at the Marine Academy of Science & Technology.

Irons Lectures at Rutgers

Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

The 2014 Henry R. and Gladys V. Irons Lecture
in Physics and Astronomy

The Irons Lectures are talks intended for the general public: high school students and teachers, college students and teachers, friends, neighbors, and anyone interested in science and science education.

Professor Margaret Murnane

University of Colorado, Boulder

Tabletop X-Ray Lasers: From Star Wars to Nanotechnology

1:30 P.M., Saturday March 29, 2014
Physics Lecture Hall, Busch Campus, Rutgers University


Ever since the invention of the laser over 50 years ago, scientists have been striving to create an X-ray version of the laser. The X-ray sources we currently use in medicine, security screening, and science are in essence the same X-ray light bulb source that Röntgen discovered in 1895. In the same way that visible lasers can concentrate light energy far better than a light bulb, a directed beam of X-rays would have many useful applications in science and technology.  The problem was that until recently, we needed ridiculously high power levels to make an X-ray laser. The first successful X-ray laser experiments were, in fact, powered by nuclear detonations as as part of the “star wars” program in the 1980s. To make a practical, tabletop-scale, X-ray laser source required taking a very different approach that involves transforming a beam of light from a visible laser into a beam of X-rays. The story behind how this happened is surprising and beautiful, highlighting how powerful our ability is to manipulate nature at a quantum level. Along the way, we also learned to generate the shortest strobe light in existence – fast enough to capture even the fleeting dance of electrons in the nanoworld. This new capability shows promise for next-generation  electronics, data and energy storage devices, and future medical diagnostics.

For more information at a technical level, see Popmintchev et al. (2012, Science, 336, 1287).

Dr. Margaret Murnane is a Fellow at JILA and a member of the Departments of Physics and Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering at the University of Colorado. She received her B.S and M.S. degrees from University College Cork, Ireland, and her Ph.D. degree in physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989, and joined the faculty of physics at Washington State University in 1990. In 1996, Professor Murnane moved to the University of Michigan, and in 1999 she moved to the University of Colorado. She runs a joint research group and a small laser company with her husband, Professor Henry Kapteyn. Her research interests have been in ultrafast optical and X-ray science. Professor Murnane is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America. Her honors include the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award of the American Physical Society (1997), a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship (2000), election to the National Academy of Sciences (2004) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2006), the RDS Irish Times Boyle Medal for Scientific Excellence (2011), and — shared with Professor Kapteyn — the Ahmed Zewail Award of the American Chemical Society (2009), the Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science of the American Physical Society (2010), the R.W. Wood Prize of the Optical Society of America (2010), and the Willis Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics (2012).

More information:

  • Directions to the department. Please park in lot 53A if possible. There are also multiple parking lots on Livingston Campus, with buses running every 30-35 minutes to (route Weekend 2) and from (route Weekend 1) the Hill Center on Busch Campus.
  • You may download a flyer (PDF format) for the Irons Lecture, including driving directions, suitable for copying and distribution.
  • For further information, contact Professor Andrew Baker (ajbaker [at] physics.rutgers.edu, phone 848-445-8887) or Professor Larry Zamick (lzamick [at] physics.rutgers.edu, phone 848-445-8778).

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Last revised: February 7, 2014 by A. Baker.
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