A Short History of the Appalachian Section of the AAPT
Section Representatives to the National Council of AAPT
Charter Members of the Appalachian Section of AAPT


by Burt Stumpf, Ohio University, Athens, OH

The Appalachian Section was formed in 1951 as the 12th AAPT regional section. Previously, the first one, the Western Pennsylvania Section, included some of the nearby West Virginia institutions. These institutions are now in the Appalachian Section. In order to become a section, it was necessary to submit a constitution and a list of members. Alderson-Broaddus College in Phillipi, West Virginia, was the site for the first meeting in 1951. The date was November 24, 1951. Ten charter members were founders. The first President was F. A. Clement, West Virginia State College and the Vice-President was Donald C. Martin, Marshall College. The 1951 meeting had only one paper, an invited one, delivered by O. Rex Ford, West Virginia University, on the hydrogen bomb. Plans for future meetings of the Section were also made.

During the second meeting at Morris-Harvey College in October 1952, Frederick A. Clement, the President, gave remarks entitled “Where are We Going?” In this talk he emphasized the need to give service to the members and the communities represented. He also suggested that at the meetings papers be presented on current advances in physics, research at member institutions and methodology.

The Appalachian Section now includes the entire state of West Virginia; the Ohio counties of Jefferson, Belmont, Monroe, Washington, Athens, Meigs, Callia and Lawrence; and the Maryland countries of Allegany, Garrett and Washington. The Constitution, consisting of six articles (Name, Object, Membership, Officers, Committees, Amendments) and two by laws (Dues, Meetings), was amended in 1963, 1968, 1970, 1979 and 1990. The object of the Section as stated in the Constitution is: “. . the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics with special reference to the teaching of the subject.” High school, college and university teachers participate. Professionals from business and industry also attend.

A survey of topics presented and discussed at the meetings since 1951 includes, among others, the following: teacher education and preparation, lecture demonstrations, current research and applications in physics, cooperation among high school and college physics teachers, Historical aspects of physics, laboratory experiments, mathematical preparation, improvement of high school physics courses, laboratory report writing, programmed learning, PSCC physics course, summer teacher institutes, Harvard Project Physics course, meteorology, astronomy, textbooks, air pollution, physical science courses, physics and society, computers in instruction, CCCP (Comprehensive Conceptual Curriculum for Physics), PTRA (Physics Teacher Resources Agents), physics education research, NSF programs, the Internet, career preparation, CPU (Constructing Physics Understanding) project, Advanced Placement Physics, Physics First, active learning, apparatus collections, global warming, inquiry courses, online physics teaching, conceptual learning, Compadre, Interactive Learning Demos, Lab View, Study Physics, historical Equipment, physics and the art, modeling, etc. These topics show a wide spectrum of papers presented over the years.

The meetings were originally only for one day Saturday. In recent years, since perhaps 1976 or 1977, an informal Friday evening session (involving computers, films, experiments, textual materials, etc.) was added. A coffee hour begins the Saturday morning program followed by invited papers. In the afternoon, several contributed papers are presented. The attendance is typically 35 to 40 or 50 persons and has been steady over many years as evidenced by the reports in the American Journal of Physics. In recent years, on two occasions joint meetings were held with the Western Pennsylvania Section (West Virginia University, April 1984) and with the Southern Ohio Section and the Ohio Section APS (Ohio University, Chillicothe, April 1986). In addition, a joint meeting was held in April 1991 with the Ohio Section APS, Southern Ohio Section and the Ohio Chapter of the American Vacuum Society at Ohio University. Kent State University-New Philadelphia was the site of a joint meeting with the Southern Ohio, Ohio and Western Pennsylvania Section in March 1994. In November 2006, a joint Appalachian Section and Southern Ohio Section meeting was held at West Virginia University. In October 2010 was a joint meeting with the Ohio Section of the APS and the Southern Ohio Section of the AAPT. The yearly Section meetings are held on college campuses in the three-state region.

At the 1986 Meeting at Frostburg State University, the following committees were initiated by means of a questionnaire: Distinguished Service, Membership and Sustaining Membership, Communication and Nomination. In 1997 tow new committees were formed: the Newsletter and Webpage Committees. It was hoped that these committees, along with the officers and other members, will continue into the future the fine traditions established since 1951. In this manner, the Section has benefited greatly in the past by the excellent and long-term service of three secretary-treasurers Donald C. Martin, James Brimhall and Francis Tam. During the 1987 meeting at West Virginia Wesleyan College, the first Distinguished Service Awards were given to Donald C. Martin (posthumous) and James Brimhall. In addition, four people have given more than five years of service as representatives to the National Council W. M. Pierce (Ohio University), Tom Manakkil (Marshall University), Francis Tam (Frostburg State University) and Greg Puskar (West Virginia University).

It is further hoped that more high schools, colleges and universities will be among those represented and participating at the annual meetings as the Section strives to promote and improve physics education at all levels in this three-state region. In the future, the membership needs to be increased, renewed and served by active and devoted leaders.  


1951-53 C.M. Loyd, West Virginia Institute of Technology
1953-55 T.D. Phillips, Marietta College
1957-67 W.M. Pierce, Ohio University
1967-68 H.N. Rexroad, West Virginia University
1968-71 F.R. Haig, Wheeling College
1971-73 E.O. Cook, Frostburg State College
1973-77 R.L. Anderson, Marietta College
1977-79 R. Harkay, West Virginia Institute of Technology
1979-83 F. Goldberg, West Virginia University
1983-91 T. Manakkil, Marshall University
1991-2008 F. Tam, Frostburg State University
2008- G. Puskar, West Virginia University


C.M. Loyd West Virginia Institute of Technology, Montgomery, WV
D.C. Martin Marshall College, Huntington, WV
R.P. Hron Marshall College, Huntington, WV
W.H. Sellers Alderson-Broaddus College, Philippi, WV
R.M. Bridgforth Emory and Henry College, Emory, VA
M.T. Brackbill Eastern Mennonite College, Harrisonburg, VA
T.D. Phillips Marietta College, Marietta, OH
F.A. Clement West Virginia State College, Institute, WV
Ernest Ashley West Virginia State College, Institute, WV
A.K. Van Scoy Potomac State School, Keyser, WV

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