Astrophysics programs with teacher-training components?

Nibbles&Bits
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:40 pm

Astrophysics programs with teacher-training components?

Postby Nibbles&Bits » Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:14 pm

I'm currently a Physics undergrad(BS at a state school with an unfortunately small program). I know I want my career in Physics to have a lot of emphasis on educating, but I'm on the fence about going on an education program so I can be certified to teach high school physics, or stick with Physics to teach at a college level.

If I do the latter, I'd like to do an Astrophysics program, not sure what specific area yet(I still have 2 years to work that out), but equally important, I'd like to go to a school that puts a lot of emphasis on training students to teach.

I've done a little research already and found these:

Wyoming- They have the CAPER program, a Physics Master's degree with Teaching emphasis, and one of my professor's suggested it.
Arizona- Haven't looked a ton into it, but it was also recommended.
Washington- They seem to be a popular name in Physics education, both for high school and in training graduate Physics students and online seems to reflect that.
Texas A&M- They were one of the founding members of CIRTL and I like the looks of their Astronomy program.

The problem I'm running into is in trying to find schools Physics Education Research groups are the majority of what comes up, which isn't really what I want. I'd rather be doing Astrophysics research while getting trained on how to be a better teacher. So, does anyone have any suggestions for other places to look at, or maybe a better way to go about searching for programs? Thanks!

stengah
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:07 am

Re: Astrophysics programs with teacher-training components?

Postby stengah » Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:51 pm

Well, nearly every Ph.D. program in the country requires you to TA for at least one semester. That could mean teaching labs, recitations, etc.

Nibbles&Bits
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:40 pm

Re: Astrophysics programs with teacher-training components?

Postby Nibbles&Bits » Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:11 am

I knew that much, but to me there's a difference between the "you'll TA for the first semester and then you'll work in a lab" and a program where you can TA more if you want, and the University(preferably even the department) encourages or provides other ways for graduate students to improve their teaching abilities.

I guess another way of phrasing my question would be I need help finding programs with an atmosphere of fostering learning/teaching as well as doing research?

TakeruK
Posts: 813
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Astrophysics programs with teacher-training components?

Postby TakeruK » Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:47 pm

Harvard Astronomy is known to be very good at getting their graduate students to be engaged in teaching, outreach and science communication. For example, their graduate students run http://astrobites.com/ and they also recently organized a science communication conference (with full funding for students all over to the US to attend). There was an excellent prof at my current school who was passionate about improving student life and especially teaching that recently moved to Harvard to accept a tenured position -- something that would not have happened here based on his passion for teaching alone. Of course, Harvard CfA is also very well known for its research output too, but I would say that it is one of the top tier programs that doesn't neglect teaching in favour of research, as far as I can tell.

Nibbles&Bits
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:40 pm

Re: Astrophysics programs with teacher-training components?

Postby Nibbles&Bits » Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:16 pm

I figured there'd be some top tier programs that fit the bill, unfortunately those programs are way out of reach. I should actually probably start by figuring out what schools are in my reach. I didn't initially put my stats because I've still got two years(decided to get an extra degree), so here's the best I can hopefully do.

School- mediocre flagship state school(I think our Physics is ranked somewhere in the 100s), but the Astronomy faculty are all well connected.
Grades
Overall: 3.37 is the best I can hope for
Physics(BS) GPA: ~3.5
Comp. Sci(BA) GPA: ~3.9
Research
I've been working this last year in a Quantum optics lab in the engineering department. We're working on putting some papers together, so hopefully my name will be attached to one or two of those.
After this semester I'm going to try and start working with one of the Astronomy professors and hopefully do an REU.
Extracurriculars
I was President of our Society of Physics students chapter last year, this year I'm VP of the Sigma Pi Sigma chapter. I also helped teach in a ninth grade Physics classroom last Fall.

TakeruK
Posts: 813
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Astrophysics programs with teacher-training components?

Postby TakeruK » Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:22 pm

I don't think you should count yourself out yet, but I understand what you mean! In two years, you can decide whether or not it's worth applying to one or two "out of reach" schools!

By the way, astrobites.com hires grad student authors from all programs! So, if you go somewhere else, if you are still interested in astronomy outreach/communication, then you should apply for astrobites in a couple of years!

Nibbles&Bits
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:40 pm

Re: Astrophysics programs with teacher-training components?

Postby Nibbles&Bits » Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:42 pm

I definitely still entertain the idea of going to a top school, there's always the chance I'll wow myself and do amazing these next two years. I'm hoping I'll be able to incorporate the computer science into my Physics in a unique/awesome way to help me stand out in grad school apps as well.

Thanks for putting Astrobites on my radar. It's definitely something I'd want to work with in grad school, plus it looks like a fun site to use these last two years of undergrad.




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