Symposium on Horizons in Astronomy and Physics Education

Department of Physics and Astronomy

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Since 2008 the UNC-BEST program has invited North Carolina physics (and other) teachers to join us for a symposium on current advances in physics, astronomy, and the teaching of these subjects in secondary schools. The symposia feature talks by leaders in the field about astronomy and physics research, the application of physics in a variety of contexts, and physics and astronomy pedagogy.There are also hands-on activities and sometimes tours of research labs in the UNC-CH Physics & Astronomy Department or activities at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.



Teachers who come to SHAPE have the opportunity to share ideas and learn from other teachers from across North Carolina in an informal atmosphere. Those who attend the entire symposium are eligible to receive Continuing Education Unit credits.


inclined plane exercise


To see list of speakers and hands-on activities from recent symposia, look here.

The list of speakers and topics for the 2023 symposium includes:

  • Dr. Brand Fortner (NCSU) Cosmic Discovery: The James Webb Space Telescope
  • Prof. Wei Zhang (UNC-CH) Magnetism and spintronics
  • Dr. Luisa Rebull (Caltech) NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program
  • Mr. Christian Browning (Duke) Adventures of a physicist in data science

There will also be a workshop on teaching about dark matter, led by Prof. Adrienne Erickcek (UNC-CH).

This year SHAPE will be held in conjunction with the Spring meeting of the North Carolina Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Participants will have access to all NCS-AAPT presentations as well as those organized by SHAPE. Check back for more information as the date approaches!


The symposium will take place on Saturday, March 25, 2023. at the Department of Physics and Astronomy on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Presentations will begin at 8:30 a.m. Advance registration is required (see link below).

To register for the symposium, follow this link. The registration fee for the 2023 symposium is $30, which includes lunch.

We look forward to seeing you in person at SHAPE 2023!