South Dakota students meet Fermilab science
Students from South Dakota traveled to Fermilab earlier this month to learn about the laboratory.
Since late 2007, when the Homestake mine became the favored site for the proposed Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, Fermilab scientists have had an eye on South Dakota. Earlier this month, a group of South Dakotan students took a look at Fermilab.
The 10 students, all science-focused high school seniors or rising college freshman, traveled to Fermilab for four days of tours, talks with scientists and self-designed studies of cosmic rays.
"The idea is to excite them about physics and science in general," said Fermilab Deputy Director Young-Kee Kim, who hopes the program will expand to a 10-week internship in future summers.
The plan for the students' trip was born when Kim and Fermilab Director Pier Oddone visited the Homestake site in Lead, South Dakota in March. There, Kim heard South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds speak about the facility's potential to inspire future scientists.
"We were discussing education, and it seemed so natural to invite students from South Dakota to see the research we're doing at Fermilab," Kim explained. "I thought of the bison in their state and it occurred to me that we have bison and prairie too. I think it's important to make these kinds of human connections."
Last week's visitors had applied for a program that lets South Dakota students visit underground laboratories around the world, including CERN and Italy's Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso.
"Not many kids get to go to a major research lab," said Karlie Haug, who graduated this year from a high school not far from Lead. "It's been really interesting being at Fermilab, seeing actual science and doing open-ended activities like the cosmic ray project."
Matthew Kirkegaard, also a 2009 high school graduate, said seeing the antiproton source was "definitely the coolest part of the trip."
Before visiting Fermilab, he knew he wanted to study mathematics in college. After four days at Fermilab, he added, "and maybe theoretical physics too."
-- Rachel Carr