2011 Medal Winners | francais

The 2011 CAP Award for Excellence in Teaching High School/CEGEP Physics (British Columbia and Yukon)

is awarded to

Peter Vogel

"Thank you for an amazing opportunity. I anticipate using some of the CAP award to enhance our 30+ year-old annual Physics Balsa Bridge Building Contest and its associated web presence (www.balsabridge.com). Just prior to starting my career, a professor instrumental in the development of TRIUMF took his class deep inside that facility just before it was commissioned and went into full operation. To now receive a national award sponsored in part by that same organization brings my physics teaching full circle." winner citation

The Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) is pleased to announce that the 2011 CAP Award for Excellence in Teaching High School/CEGEP Physics (British Columbia and Yukon) is awarded to Peter Vogel, Notre Dame Regional Secondary School (Vancouver, BC), in recognition of his mastery at helping students relate the abstract concepts of physics to the world around them. Described by colleagues as a pontifex -- or bridge-builder -- Peter Vogel is a master at connecting the concepts of theoretical physics with the everyday world. For more than 3 decades he has organized a contest in which student must apply their knowledge of physics to build a bridge made of 100 grams of balsa wood that will withstand a maximal load. The current record is an astonishing 219.5 kg, held by Grade 12 student Gino Circo. Adding to this his contributions to provincial examination committees, editing of a physics newsletter, and presentations at numerous conferences on science education, the CAP is delighted to recognize Peter with this award. announcement

Peter Vogel teaches physics and computer courses at Notre Dame Regional Secondary in Vancouver BC.

Throughout his career Peter has sought innovative methods for engaging his students. For example, Peter created the annual Physics Balsa Bridge Building Contest, now in its 31st year. Using funds from a Prime Minister’s Award for Science and Technology, he established a web site devoted to bridge building. Balsabridge.com draws up to a thousand visitors a day. Peter has also developed physics as ‘performance theatre’ to encourage students to see science as fun and exciting and has extended opportunities to his students to work on interesting technology-related extra-curricular activities to increase experience and interest in the sciences.

Peter’s ongoing commitment to student achievement has been coupled with his professional contribution to the education community and the partnerships he has forged to benefit this community. For example, Peter enlisted sponsorship support for the bridge contest from Simon Fraser University’s School of Engineering Science, the University of British Columbia’s Engineering Physics program, BC Institute of Technology, and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC, along with several private sector engineering and high technology companies, to create scholarships for students who go on to take Calculus and Physics.

Peter is also a writer with a biweekly column on Internet and technology matters published in the BC Catholic newspaper.

For his contributions, Peter has been professionally recognized several times, for example by the Optical Society of America, which named him an Outstanding Science Educator, for his work on a series of Space Update conferences. nominator citation

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