By Sara Serfaty
Name: Suzanne (Suzy) Vogel
Department: Science (Department Chair)
Grades teaching: 9, 12
University: Columbia University
“Real physicists don’t spend any time thinking about high school physics,” Suzy Vogel began. “Modern physics is about the makeup of the universe…[it] describes the behavior of the smallest objects in the universe, atoms and subatomic particles,” whereas classical physics – high school physics – “is the physics used to explain what we might call the ‘macroscopic world’ – the rules that govern the objects we interact with every day.”
Suzy Vogel will be the new Science Department Chair, as well as teaching two ninth grade physics courses and a senior elective each semester. While Suzy has instituted no changes to the current physics and science curricula, her fall senior elective begins to address the gap between high school science and the “real world.”
Titled “Intro to Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity,” the elective exposes students to topics in modern physics using high school math. Suzy began this project at her previous position, teaching physics at the Brooklyn Technical High School (Brooklyn Tech).
Acknowledging the reality of senioritis, Suzy is offering the course “A Survey of the Universe” second semester, when “seniors want something interesting, but not too demanding.” The course will work through a brief history of the universe, and explore everything in outer space, including stars, planets, galaxies, and black holes.
Suzy’s interest in science is longstanding, mainly influenced by her mother, a teacher, and a young astronauts’ program from her childhood.
After completing the public education system, she majored in physics at Columbia University before entering the workforce. Some years later, she returned to school, and while she had never before taken a class in political science, she earned a masters degree in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). That program was started by the CIA during the Cold War to get scientists and military personnel to explore security issues and policy. Nuclear issues were where physics met political science –her thesis was on Securing Nuclear Material in Former Soviet States.
After Suzy worked at a Washington, DC think tank focusing on nuclear and space issues, she missed physics and earned a Masters in Science Education from New York University. She most recently taught at Brooklyn Tech, where she served as the Physics Department Chair.
Suzy will be starting a Science Olympiad team with colleague and biology teacher Naomi Bergman, and will continue to enjoy her hobbies, including spending time with her family, traveling, and learning to play the guitar.