The Society of Physics Students
) is a professional association
A professional association is usually a nonprofit organization seeking to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession, and the public interest.The roles of these professional associations have been variously defined: "A group of people in a...
with international participation, granting membership through college chapters with the only requirement that the student member be interested in physics. All college majors are welcome to join SPS, but the highest representation tends to come from majors in the natural sciences, engineering, and medicine. Within the SPS is Sigma Pi Sigma
Sigma Pi Sigma is the National Physics Honor Society. It strives to promote physics at all stages, to promote fraternity between those who excel at physics, and to promote service among its members. It is closely associated with the Society of Physics Students .- External links :*...
, a nationally recognized scholastic honor society
In the United States, an honor society is a rank organization that recognizes excellence among peers. Numerous societies recognize various fields and circumstances. The Order of the Arrow, for example, is the national honor society of the Boy Scouts of America...
. SPS is a member society of the American Institute of Physics
The American Institute of Physics promotes science, the profession of physics, publishes physics journals, and produces publications for scientific and engineering societies. The AIP is made up of various member societies...
The SPS National Council decides the policies of SPS. It is made up of 36 members, elected by chapters from one of 18 geographic zones. Each Zone represents a section of the country and is represented by a faculty Councilor and a student Associate Councilor. Both Councilors and Associate Councilors participate in zone activities and in the annual policy-making meeting of the Council. The Director of SPS is Gary White, a salaried physicist designated by AIP to administer the National Office's services and programs for SPS members.
Services and activities
SPS strives to shape students into contributing members of the professional scientific community
The scientific community consists of the total body of scientists, its relationships and interactions. It is normally divided into "sub-communities" each working on a particular field within science. Objectivity is expected to be achieved by the scientific method...
with the philosophy that since college courses only develop a particular range of skills in a student, it is important to develop other skills including effective written and verbal communication, leadership experience, professional networking, presenting scholarly work in professional meetings and journals, and educational outreach to the campus and local communities.
To promote these goals, SPS allows students to take part in professional membership societies, receive peer-reviewed
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...
journals, present research, and obtain scholarships, and receive awards as incentives for excellent performance. Further, SPS supports several publications, and SPS members stay involved with public science issues, education, and outreach.
The latest SPS outreach project, the SPS Outreach Catalyst Kit (SOCK), is modeled after a similar successful outreach effort at an SPS Zone meeting at Northwestern State University
Northwestern State University, known as NSU, is a four-year public university primarily situated in Natchitoches, Louisiana, with a nursing campus in Shreveport and general campuses in Leesville/Fort Polk and Alexandria. It is a part of the University of Louisiana System.NSU was founded in 1884 as...
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...
. SOCKs are designed for SPS Chapters and collegiate physics departments to use in outreach presentations to local elementary, middle and high school students. The presentations and contents of the first SOCK were spearheaded by the 2001 SPS national intern Mark Lentz, to teach about properties of light.