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Priscilla Laws’ love of learning almost came to an abrupt end very early on—when she left kindergarten, where learning was by doing, and entered first grade, where learning was rote. “They promoted me to first grade, and it was dreadful,” said Laws, a research professor of physics at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. “I was sitting in a seat and copying letters from a board.”

Among the intriguing things Professor Eugenia Etkina could put on a resume is the fact that she can demonstrate Newton’s Laws of Motion on Rollerblades. As one of the creators of a Web site known as the Rutgers Physics Teaching Technology Resource, Etkina is committed to “increasing the excitement of learning physics.”