Mike Cooke receives 2010 Director's Volunteer Award
|Mike Cooke receives the Director's Award from Pier Oddone and a hug from his toddler son.
At an award ceremony on Nov. 2, Director Pier Oddone presented DZero physicist Mike Cooke with the annual Director’s Award, recognizing Cooke's volunteer service.
The award is given annually to an employee, user, graduate student, retiree or guest scientist who contributed significantly to Fermilab's K-12 education programs.
Marge Bardeen, head of Fermilab Education Office, said that Fermilab had a fabulous year of volunteer outreach activities, reaching more than 37,000 kids and 4,300 teachers.
“These volunteers are our ambassadors to the community,” Oddone said. “Fermilab might not find out for 30 years what you’ve done, until some kid grows up and becomes our funder or director.”
Cooke has visited classrooms and performed physics demonstrations since 2005 when he was a graduate student at Fermilab. Along with nominee Dave Schmitz, Cooke developed a show called “FUNdamentals of Physics” to demonstrate how Newton’s laws apply to children’s everyday lives. They have performed it at Fermilab’s open houses and Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
Over the years, Cooke has also frequently volunteered for various events including Science Chicago’s LabFest at Millennium Park and field trips to Fermilab. He also enhanced and restructured Fermilab’s popular classroom presentation, 'Charge! Electricity and Magnetism.' In the award nomination, the selection committee lauded Cooke for “generosity with his time enhancing the laboratory’s reputation in both education and science research.”
“It’s fun to share the enthusiasm we have here at the lab with kids,” Cooke said. “They have a lot of good questions about science. Often the kids drag their parents around, but the parents are the ones who end up cornering me with questions.”
Cooke said his own love of science started early on, watching NOVA and other science TV programs.
“I think I would have loved it if a scientist had visited me in grade school,” he said.
Nine other nominees received recognition certificates at the ceremony: David Harding, Todd Johnson, Don Lincoln, Thomas Peterson, Erik Ramberg, James Santucci, Dave Schmitz, Chris Stoughton and Herman White.
The annual award is made possible by an anonymous donor to Fermilab Friends for Science Education, a not-for-profit organization supporting science education programs at Fermilab.