All of our apparatus is designed and built by university physicists who have taught in the undergraduate lab and are well aware of the constraints of both student use and student laboratory budgets. Many of the advanced instruments give research quality data and lend themselves to open-ended upper level projects. Several of our instruments have been built in collaboration with faculty who have used our apparatus and then worked with us to make experiments they had built for their own students available to colleagues world wide.
Because they were specifically designed for teaching, these instruments promote conceptual understanding while providing quantitative data that is often of research quality. Although there is "No Resident Expert Required," the experiments are challenging and satisfying for faculty as well as students.
We in the physics community are not in the business of training technicians to manipulate equipment. Our mission is to educate physicists so that they will be able to create new instruments to explore new physics.
No matter what you call it, Advanced Physics Lab, Upper Division Lab, Junior/Senior Lab, Modern Lab, Optics Lab or even Great Experiments in Physics, TeachSpin apparatus offers your faculty and students a wide array of exciting and challenging hands-on physics experiments.
Though several companies provide apparatus for introductory science (high school and college) laboratories, it appears that TEACHSPIN is unique in its goal of providing affordable advanced (senior level) laboratory teaching apparatus. There are several reasons for this.
TEACHSPIN, in comparison, remains committed to the educational market, being owned and operated by members of the academic community and also employing several undergraduate and graduate students.
I began TEACHSPIN in 1992 only intending to build an instrument that would make it possible for every college or university, no matter what the expertise of its faculty, to teach Pulsed NMR as a standard advanced laboratory experiment. In the process of building that first instrument, I discovered a mission. TeachSpin is dedicated to creating rugged, reliable, and affordable hands-on instruments that any physicist, no matter what his or her area of expertise, can incorporate into an advanced laboratory program. In addition to designing instruments from my own repertoire, we have developed exciting collaborations that have enabled TeachSpin to offer a broader range of experiments. As of this writing, we have partnered with faculty from University of North Carolina, Charlotte, California Institute of Technology, and Calvin College. Perhaps you would be interested in a TEACHSPIN collaboration with your favorite experiment?
A crucial requirement for TEACHSPIN instruments is a combination of simplicity and reliability that can put an end to the only half-joking classic distinction among the laboratory sciences: If it's slimy, it's biology; if it smells, it's chemistry; and if it doesn't work, it's physics. When students, by themselves, can get apparatus to work, they "own" their results. We believe that all physicists deserve an experimental experience that leaves them ending the old saw with "and if it is stimulating, exciting, and fun, it's physics!"
Jonathan: BS, Case Institute of Technology; Ph.D., Washington University, St. Louis; Post Doc with N. Bloembergen at Harvard; Faculty, Case-Western Reserve and University at Buffalo; Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching; Visiting Faculty: Princeton, Middlebury College, Stevens Institute. Author, "A Modern Introduction to Mechanics".
My picture is here for people who like to put a face to a voice.
Until now, I have been at an advantage because so many schools include photos on their websites. Now we are even up!
It has been a great delight to share my excitement about TeachSpin's hands-on instruments with so many scientists deeply committed to teaching. And it is gratifying to be part of a TEACHSPIN team dedicated to building equipment that makes both teachers and students look forward to lab.
I hope I'll be having an opportunity to help you put our instruments through their paces at an AAPT or APS meeting in the near future.
Barbara: BA, Swarthmore College; MAT, Yale University; Physics Teacher, Columbia and Livingston High Schools in NJ, Buffalo Seminary, NY; President New Jersey Section AAPT, Physics Teaching Resource Agent, Presidential Award for Excellence 1994, addition of -Reichert courtesy 1991 AAPT Summer Meeting, Vancouver, BC.
TeachSpin was founded in 1992 by Jonathan Reichert, who was then a physics professor at the University of Buffalo in the US. He was also my thesis advisor - proving once again that when it comes to careers, it is often who you know rather than what you know that counts. After I completed my PhD in solid-state physics in 1993, I worked at TeachSpin for several months, designing electronics for its first instrument - a pulsed nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer. A few postdoc positions later, I found myself working as a staff scientist at the W M Keck Free Electron Laser at Vanderbilt University when the facility lost its funding for a year. As a recently married new father, I thought I should start looking for a job that did not depend on the three-year research-funding cycle. By that time, TeachSpin had grown and it was looking to hire a full-time physicist. It was a perfect fit for both of us.
David Van Baak is Professor of Physics at Calvin College and a colaborating Physicist with TeachSpin. Several of our instruments were developed from innovations from Calvin. Dr. Van Baak meet Jonathan Reichert in 2001 at an APS meeting where he learnd of our policy of collaboration. Since that time Two-Slit Interference, One Photon at a Time, Earth's Field NMR Gradient/Field Coils, Modern Interferometry, Torsional Oscillator, and Noise Fundamentals have been added to the TeachSpin collection of experiments. He has been active in teaching, and developing the advanced lab, at Calvin College since 1980.