Physics world well represented at LOP |

Physics world well represented at LOP

Being native to California, the earth has quaked under my feet many times, but I never consider the fact that the tectonic plate action I was experiencing follows a simple law of physics – the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Basically, I was unaware that heat (the earth’s interior) naturally moves from a warmer region to a cooler one (the earth’s exterior,) thereby causing plate motion.

I am not a teacher of physics. There are, however, a couple of individuals here in Lake of the Pines, who are quite talented educators and directly involved in your children’s education.

The first mention goes to Bear River High School teacher Michael Hughes, a 15-year veteran of the school and a man who has inspired interest in physics in many kids, including my own. On more than one occasion, my sons have come home from school to share with me a thrilling nugget of knowledge about light or velocity. Reportedly, Mr. Hughes has the ability to present this rather complex subject with humor and clarity.

Mr. Hughes has a great tool in educating his students, in the form of a favorite textbook, “Conceptual Physics,” written by the legendary educational writer Paul G. Hewitt. Paul, also a cartoonist, incorporates art and humor in his books, making them fun and interesting for high school students. Hughes explained to me his physics course follows the book closely, and he is definitely a fan of Hewitt’s work.

Mr. Hughes learned recently that a new high school textbook, “Conceptual Integrated Science,” is being published this year, with LOP resident Suzanne Lyons as co-author to the famous Mr. Hewitt. This book, according to Suzanne, “focuses on the big ideas,” rather than emphasizing details and mathematical complexity.

It took no time whatsoever for Hughes and the rest of the BRHS science faculty to agree to order 270 of the new books for the next school year. The book covers physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and astronomy, while drawing relationships between the subjects.

Suzanne Lyons has been working with Hewitt for years as his editor at Addison-Wesley Publishing in the Bay Area. She has great respect for the renowned author, but says he is a “most down-to-earth human being.” Although, when attending an AAPT (American Association of Physics Teachers) convention with him, the experience, a colleague told her, is “like walking around with Elvis.”

Suzanne’s own interest in physics began when she picked up an early edition of “Conceptual Physics” in a used bookstore. From there, she decided to pursue a degree in physics at UC Berkeley, then a graduate degree from Stanford University in Science Education. This prepared her well for the latest step in her career – textbook author.

Mr. Hughes and Suzanne Lyons have never met, although they share a common interest and talent in educating young people in the sciences. Mr. Hughes hopes he can entertain Suzanne as a classroom guest next year and, hopefully, get her to autograph his teacher’s manual to “Conceptual Integrated Science.”

Suzanne, her husband Paul Lang, and her two children Simone and Tristan Lang, have been LOP residents for five years. She moved to her LOP home, (formerly owned by a Moody Blues keyboarder,) and has enjoyed the lake ever since. Her husband, Paul, is currently president of the LOP Water Ski Club.


Laura Lavelle is a resident of Lake of the Pines, and her column is for Lake of the Pines area residents to share thoughts and information. Contact her at or leave a phone message with the readership editor at 477-4238.

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