Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
AIP History Intern: Women and African-Americans in the Physical Sciences
American Institute of Physics
The History of Women and African-Americans in the Physical Sciences
The American Institute of Physics' Center for History of Physics works to preserve and make known the historical record of modern physics and allied sciences. Through documentation, archival collections and educational initiatives, the Center ensures that the heritage of modern physics is safeguarded and its story is accurately told.
Samantha and fellow intern Victoria are contributing to new lesson plans and other resources for the AIP Teachers Guides to the History of Women and African Americans in the Physical Sciences, and testing and revising existing materials in response to feedback from teachers. Samantha and Victoria are utilizing materials in the collections of the Niels Bohr Library and Archives at AIP related to the designated topics—oral histories, autobiographies, photos, etc. They are also working with the director of the Center for History of Physics, two graduate research assistants, and library specialists to refine the historical narratives and the web resources.
Women and minorities are underrepresented in the landscape of the physical sciences - both in numbers and visibility. This summer, we built on four years of previous interns’ work, revising and writing 40 teaching guides that highlight the often forgotten contributions of women and minorities to the physical sciences. We have ensured that these teaching guides meet national educational standards, can fit into social and natural science courses, and are available for free online. We intend for these resources to be easily integrated into classrooms from the first grade through the college level, and that they will provide students with a diverse set of role models while also calling attention to ongoing diversity issues in STEM.
My name is Samantha Spytek. I’m a junior level physics major in the University Honors program with minors in math, astronomy and art history at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (or just Virginia Tech). I’m also going to be a first year graduate student next year in an Accelerated Masters Program in Science Education. I’ll be spending a fifth year at Virginia Tech to complete the MAED and become certified as a high school physics teacher. I have experience being a TA for foundation physics courses at my university, and last summer I taught Astrophysics at Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.
Obviously I like physics a lot, but I also have other interests and talents. I am fluent in Spanish (I spent 12 years in a Spanish Immersion Program). I am an artist. I work in several mediums including drawing in pencil and charcoal, photography (both digital and film), and stone sculpting. I enjoy history in general, but I particularly like art history and the history of knowledge and technology. I was born and raised in Arlington, VA, just across the river from DC. While the area is nothing new to me, I absolutely love the district. I look forward to sharing my city with the other interns while getting to work in the Niels Bohr Library & Archives.