The Physics Teaching Resource Agents Fund Supports Physics Teacher Professional Development

Funding through the NSF grant has ended.  Your support of this program will ensure that high quality professional development will persist for high school physics and physical science teachers across the US.  All gifts to this fund will be used to train PTRAs to provide professional development to their peers.  Make your gift online.

The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) initiated the Physics Teaching Resource Agents (PTRA) Program in 1985—with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) —with the mission of improving the teaching and learning of physics and physical science for all teachers and students in the United States. AAPT/PTRA is the leading in-service physics professional development program. It is effective for middle school and high school teachers. It provides professional development on physics content, teaching techniques based on research in physics education, and integration of technology into curriculum.The program maintains a nationwide cadre of more than 150 accomplished high school teacher-leaders who are trained and continually involved in professional development. These teacher-leaders are certified as PTRAs by AAPT to lead workshops throughout the country.

These 150 experienced PTRAs have participated in national leadership institutes where they have developed their skills on a wide range of topics—to assist their fellow teachers. The program has involved more than 30 universities and college physics departments partnering to provide the summer institutes and follow-up sessions.

Potential national PTRAs are selected based on physics content mastery, creativity, successful teaching experience, familiarity with physics education research, and the capacity for professional leadership. 

The opportunity for continuity and expansion of training is offered each year at an intense summer institute at which AAPT/PTRA commissioned workshops are developed. What emerges, then, are teachers from within urban districts or rural schools who go out to meet the specific needs of teachers in their local area.

APS award 2011b_sm

Front L-R: Karen Jo Matsler, Larry Badar, Jan Mader
Back L-R: George Amann, Jim Nelson, Robert Clark

The PTRA program was awarded the 2011 APS Excellence in Physics Education Award. The award recognizes and honors a team or group of individuals (such as a collaboration), or exceptionally a single individual, who have exhibited a sustained commitment to excellence in physics education.

Because it matters, our program goals are ambitious:

  • To provide all physics teachers the opportunity to continue growing professionally and become not just competent, but creative and effective in their teaching.
  • To identify outstanding leader-teachers, tap them as PTRAs, and engage them in the annual Summer National Leadership Institutes.
  • To develop print and electronic resources and modules designed to serve not only as workshop resources but also as long-term references for practicing teachers.
  • To be recognized as a leading provider of accessible, high-quality in-service programs in physics and physical science for pre-college teachers at all levels and for all academic backgrounds.