Mutual/Membership Benefit Organizations, Other

American Association of Physics Teachers

  • College Park, MD

Mission Statement

AAPT's mission is to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching.
The Association has identified four critical issues that will guide our future activities:

The twenty-first century will provide the greatest opportunities and
challenges for us as we take an active role in shaping the future. Our
success will depend on the commitment, dedication, and continued input
of our members and the physics education community. Join us in this
journey to enhance the quality and effectiveness of physics education
at all levels.

Main Programs

  1. U.S. Physics Team for the International Physics Olympiad
  2. Physics Bowl
  3. High School Photo Contest

service areas


Self-reported by organization

ruling year


chief executive for fy 2011

Beth A. Cunningham Ph.D.

Self-reported by organization


Physics Education, Physics Teachers, Physics Programs, The Physics Teacher, American Journal of Physics

Self-reported by organization

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2014, 2014 and 2013.
Register now



Also Known As



Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Professional Societies, Associations (Y03)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Impact statement

AAPT's members work to improve the quality of physics education through quality teacher preparation, continuing professional development, and improved classroom standards and practices that facilitate student understanding and enthusiasm for physics.


What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Self-reported by organization

Program 1

U.S. Physics Team for the International Physics Olympiad

The United States Physics Team Program is a physics community initiative organized by AAPT and funded by member societies of the American Institute of Physics and other generous donors.  This program encourages excellence in physics education while rewarding outstanding physic students.  High school students compete each year to represent the United States at the International Physics Olympiad Competition providing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for students to enhance their physics knowledge as well as their creativity, leadership, and commitment to a goal.


Science & Technology



Population Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Program 2

Physics Bowl

Each year, approximately 10,000 students take a
40-question, 45-minute timed, multiple-choice test under their school’s
supervision. Exam
questions are based on topics and concepts covered in a typical high
school physics course.


Science & Technology



Population Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Program 3

High School Photo Contest

AAPT's annual photo contest, co-sponsored by the Committees on High Schools and Educational Technologies, gives high school students around the world the opportunity to showcase their photography skills and physics knowledge.  Students are required to take the photos and complete the descriptions themselves.  Teh work of the 100 finalists in grades 9-12 is displayed at the association's annual summer Meeting.  Attendees are invited to vote for their top five favoriete photos in two categories, Natural and Contrived.  First, Second and Third Place winners in each category are posted on the AAPT website and included in the Physics Photo Contest Poster.


Science & Technology



Population Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Self-reported by organization

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    Our vision is to be the leader in physics education. We are committed to providing the most current resources and up-to-date research needed to enhance a physics educator's professional development. The results are not only a deeper appreciation of the teaching profession, but most importantly, more enthusiastic involvement from their students.

    Goal 1. Create a vibrant community to support those interested in enhancing the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching.

    Goal 2. Enhance professional development opportunities utilizing AAPT products, journals, programs/conferences to disseminate knowledge about the understanding of physics, physics education research, and effective physics teaching practices.

    Goal 3. Enhance the visibility and role of AAPT in physics and STEM education communities to effectively influence policy and practice.

    Goal 4. Enrich the field by increasing the number and diversity of physics students and teachers at all levels, including those from ethnically and linguistically diverse backgrounds, those with diverse abilities, and those from the LGBT+ community
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Strategies for Goal 1:
    Support physics educators and physics education researchers through opportunities for professional development, research, and publications.
    Develop programs, products, and services that meet the needs and pique the interest of physics educators throughout their careers.
    Engage students and early career professionals with special programs and offerings.
    Publicize widely the value and benefits of AAPT membership and the opportunities available at National Meetings.
    Utilize technology to engage those interested in physics teaching in professional development activities.
    Enhance local and regional community building opportunities among physics educators.
    Establish programs that help develop the next generation of leaders within AAPT.

    Strategies for Goal 2
    Develop and maintain a portfolio of print and electronic resources that support the physics teaching community.
    Provide and support professional development for physics educators and physics education researchers locally, regionally, and nationally.
    Continue to develop programs, products, and services that support physics teachers, physics departments, and administrators in adopting best practices related to physics education.
    Support physics related outreach and informal education experiences.

    Strategies for Goal 3
    Support and develop position statements that can help inform public policy as it relates to physics education.
    Advocate for funding and policies that promote excellence in physics teaching and physics learning.
    Continue to develop relationships with organizations, nationally and internationally, that will increase support for physics education.
    Serve as a forum for disseminating information on policy related to physics education.
    Provide and support programmatic and policy recommendations for physics departments, schools, and administrators.

    Strategies for Goal 4
    Develop and support programs to increase the number of physics students in high school and college courses, opportunities for physics teacher preparation, and opportunities for teaching physics at all levels.
    Support the development, dissemination, and implementation of best practices in recruiting, retaining, and teaching under-represented and marginalized students in physics to enhance their success in learning and practicing physics.
    Enhance the diversity of AAPT and the physics education community by recruiting and supporting members from all groups, including those currently under-represented and marginalized in physics education.
    Support best practices in in the preparation of physics teachers to teach students from all academic, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    AAPT has a small national office supported by volunteers across the spectrum of physics educators from K-12 through post graduate physics education, including physics education research with eighteen area committees providing intellectual content and and service to the physics education community as a whole.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    AAPT's progress indicators include increased participation in social media discussions, journal usage statistics, resource usage analytice, and professional development opportunities.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Portions for each strategic goal have been accomplished. However with the changes in the Next Generation Science Standards there is still work to be accomplished as the objectives for physics education are evolving.

service areas


Self-reported by organization

Social Media








Funding Needs

U.S Physics Team New Teacher Development

External Reviews

The review section is powered by Great Nonprofits


Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.


Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2014, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Get all this now for free
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

American Association of Physics Teachers



Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2014, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.


Beth A. Cunningham Ph.D.


Beth Cunningham became AAPT's 12th Executive Officer on January 1,
2011. Dr. Cunningham's career has provided her with admirable preparation to serve as AAPT's next Executive Officer and help us all achieve our mission “to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching."  Physics and AAPT are in her blood. (Her father was a physicist who, in fact, was quite active in AAPT.) She pursued her B.A., M.A.  and Ph.D. degrees, all with majors in physics, at Kent State University.  Her Ph.D. thesis focused on biological liquid crystals. After a two-year post-doctoral appointment at the Hormel Institute of the University of Minnesota, she taught physics for one year at Gettysburg College before moving to Bucknell University, where she taught physics for seventeen years, advanced through the academic ranks to full professor and, during the last six of those years, served as Associate Dean of the Faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences.  In 2006, she assumed her present position as Provost, Dean of the Faculty, and Professor of Physics at Illinois Wesleyan University.


"Some of the most important people in my life have had AAPT as a part of their lives.  I have seen first hand the value of AAPT to their professional and personal development as physics educators.  My father, who was a physicist, first introduced me to AAPT by taking me to a meeting when I was still an undergraduate student.  He taught at a regional campus of Kent State and was the only physicist on his campus. He became very involved in AAPT at the local and national level.  Why did he value AAPT membership?

AAPT's resources supported his teaching

He established a network of like minded colleagues who shared the goal of excellence in student learning

He believed AAPT's mission is part of a larger, important initiative, to advance the greater good through physics teaching

He had a strong connection to the AAPT circle of members and friends

I've learned over many years that these same values are held by many other AAPT members.

In my position as Executive Officer I've discovered a number of things:

The AAPT staff is very dedicated, talented, and resourceful.

AAPT's high quality programs that have an impact on physics education.

Other STEM associations value our work and want to collaborate with us to improve STEM education (K-16 and beyond).

The membership and Executive Board are passionate in their commitment to the Association. They deeply believe in AAPT's mission and never hesitate to volunteer. They have great ideas that have changed physics education in the US and across the globe.  Not only are they very passionate, but they enjoy what they do and make physics fun. 

I feel very lucky to be a part of this association and help shape the future of physics education.  I look forward to working with you in the years to come. 

—    Beth A. Cunningham, Ph.D.
Executive Officer"



Janelle M Bailey

AAPT President

Term: Jan 2016 - Jan 2017


GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization



Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?