LU’s David Cook becomes president of physics teachers’ association

Katie Van Marter-Sanders

Retired Lawrence professor
David Cook recently became president
of the American Association
of Physics Teachers. He said he
is delighted with the new role
because of the influence he will
have on young teachers and students
of physics. As president, he
will have a say in allocating the
organization’s financial resources
and heading the international
physics teacher conference.
The AAPT has been around
since the early 1930s. The group
serves as an organizing body for
physics teachers in all levels from
elementary school all the way
through college. While the organization
is international, the majority
of its members are in the United
States, and Cook said he sees it as
a vital institution for reinvigorating
the United States’ dwindling
interest in physics.
The AAPT holds two general
conferences every year, which are
attended by about 1,000 out of
the organization’s 10,000 members.
In his new position, Cook
will be responsible for running the
conferences, overseeing the various
committees and facilitating
the executive board meetings that
occur four times per year.
Cook’s presidency is actually
a part of a four-year leadership
track within the AATP. Candidates
start as vice president, become
president elect, president, and
then serve an additional year as a
senior member to support the new
Cook’s 40-year AAPT membership
has given him a lot of time to
think about the changes he wants
to make while serving as president.
Cook likes the direction in which
the organization is headed, and
he said he wants to support some
of the programs started by his
predecessors and to begin a few
of his own.
For example, Cook said he
wants to provide additional training
to exceptional teachers with
the expectation that they will be
able to lead other teachers. He also
said he thinks it is important to
expose children to physics starting
at a young age, and he wants
to focus on getting middle and
high school students excited about
To have enough time to
become president and help other
teachers, Cook retired from his
own teaching position at Lawrence,
but he said that he will miss teaching.
Yet, Cook said his decision
to retire was ultimately a positive
one, because he believes it gave
him the time he needed to do a
good job in his leadership roles at
the AAPT and to spend more time
with his grandchildren.
Although retired and president
of the AATP, Cook still finds time
to talk with students about physics
and keeps his office door wide