History

The Compass Project is a “project” in a very literal sense– we are constantly growing, changing, and improving to reflect the interests of our members and to respond to the needs we see around us. Compass is also a “do-ocracy.”  When someone in Compass has a great idea that fits within our goals, values, and resources, that person is empowered to implement it with the support of the larger Compass community.

In the spirit of sharing this sense of growth, here is a brief timeline of major events in Compass’s history:

  • Fall 2006: Compass is founded when three physics grad students decide to implement a summer program for incoming freshmen. They spend the year developing curriculum, recruiting other graduate students to their cause, and scrounging financial support to run the program from the Berkeley administration.
  • May 2007: Compass hosts its first weekend-long retreat at the Russian River, where teachers developed a shared set of classroom values and co-designed the curriculum for the upcoming summer program.
  • August 2007: The first summer program welcomes 11 freshmen to Berkeley.
  • September 2007: Compass launches its mentoring program.
  • March 2008: Prof. Charles Townes gives the inaugural lecture of the Compass Lecture Series.
  • Spring 2009: A group of Compass freshmen ask to take charge of the lecture series after hearing that the grad students had no time to continue running it. This is the first time that undergrads took leadership positions in Compass.
  • Fall 2009: Compass teaches its fall course, Introduction to Modeling, for the first time.
  • February 2010: A group of Compass graduate and undergraduate students hosts a workshop at the Physic Teacher Education Coalition conference in Washington, DC. This is the first time that Compass interacts with the national physics education community.
  • May 2010: Compass and Florida International University co-host a workshop at UC Berkeley on reforming undergraduate physics education. In attendance are faculty from MIT, Stanford, Cornell, South Dakota School of Mines, and Florida A&M.
  • December 2010: A PhD candidate in Compass is invited to give a talk for the lecture series, starting a new tradition for Compass graduate students.
  • June 2011: The first group of Compass undergraduates graduates from Berkeley.
  • Summer 2011: Compass organizes its first fundraising campaign, successfully raising enough money to fund the upcoming summer program and starting a tradition of similar campaigns.
  • Fall 2011: The teachers of the 2011 summer program submit a peer-reviewed paper to The Physics Teacher on the curriculum they developed. The paper has since been accepted for publication.
  • Spring 2012: Compass teaches its spring course, Introduction to Measurement, for the first time.
  • March 2012: Compass wins the American Physical Society’s Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education
  • April 2012: A group of Compass graduate and undergraduate students gives an invited, hour-long talk at the American Physical Society’s April Meeting.
  • May 2012: Compass pilots its first group mentoring event; these will be incorporated into the mentoring program starting in the fall of 2012.
  • June 2012: Compass publishes the first edition of its newsletter, The Compass Needle.
  • Fall 2012: Compass teaches its first course aimed at transfer students.