Classroom presenters wanted to showcase science
DZero's Michael Cooke and AD's Amber Johnson review the Education Office's supplies for presenting classroom science experiments on light and color during a Sept. 29 picnic to recruit volunteer presenters.
When Michael Cooke came to Fermilab for his graduate studies, he reveled in the experiments but missed teaching undergraduates.
So he found the next best thing: teaching area students about the principles underlying his work at Fermilab.
“There can be more enthusiasm with elementary students because they know they are not going to be tested on it,” Cooke said.
With his wife, Amber Johnson, Cooke has averaged about one educational talk a month during the last two school years. The couple intersperse their talk about electricity and magnetism with hands-on examples, computer-based demonstrations and plenty of questions for the students.
“It is a lot of fun,” Johnson said. “There are so many schools interested and nearby that we have never had to drive more than 30 minutes.”
The Education Office supplies demonstration kits and a van to support classroom visits to dozens of schools annually in northern Illinois either close to the laboratory or on the commuting path of volunteers.
But the office still needs more volunteers. A sign-up meeting last month only drew 16 participants, many already volunteers. New volunteers can partner with veterans or use slides created by former presenters.
The typically 30-to 40-minute presentations offer a chance to expose students to Fermilab and create an interest in science at a young age. Demonstrations are tailored for second through 12th grades and cover light, motion, electricity, sports physics, cryogenics, cosmic rays and science career paths.
“I have found some students who are less enthusiastic than others but there is something that everyone finds fun,” said Anne Heavey.
Anyone interested in becoming a classroom presenter should contact Nancy Lanning at email@example.com. Visit the presentation Web site for more information.
“You have got all these fun demos and stuff and then the students say, ‘How does all this apply to science?’” said Jim Zagel. “And you can tie it all together.”