Friday, November 18, 2011

Plasma Expo: More 1,400 learn about the fourth state of matter

By John DeLooper

Today is the first day of the plasma expo. Over 1,400 students, both middle and high school, attended. Students visited each of the various exhibitors. In some cases they came to learn more about plasmas and fusion. In other cases they had specific questions that they had to answer. We supply these questions to the teachers so that they can make sure their student does go to each exhibitor. Students typically spend an hour and half visiting the exhibits.

The expo starts at 8:30 a.m. and goes to 2 p.m. Although the science education staff arranges the set up, the real key to our success are the scientists, post docs and graduate students who staff the exhibit and explain the plasma exhibits to the students. Without their help, this would never be as effective and impactful for the students. For their service we are very grateful. The pictures reflect the expo as it evolves. Sometimes we are waiting for students and then we are very busy. At one time during the morning there were six individuals behind the table talking to more than 24 students at the same time. It is pretty hectic during those time frames.

During the day, the scientific meeting continues with presentations and poster sessions.

We reopened the exhibit for the public in the evening between 6 and 8 PM. This allows teachers and parents to bring their students who couldn't come during the day as well as anyone else who would like to attend. Attendance varies widely from each meeting and the city it is located in. The exhibitors run a pool to guess the number of visitors we'll have in the evening session which was so congratulations to Tom from Oak Ridge and Aliya from Princeton who shared the $18 pool!

After the evening plasma expo a number of exhibitors moved up the block to see the choir rehearsal of the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The choir practice is every Thursday evening between 8:00 and 9:30 p.m. It is open and free to the public. The choir consists of 360 individuals supported by a full orchestra and a pipe organ that has more than 11,600 pipes. This was very impressive.

Tomorrow is another expo day and then we get to pack up and go home.

--John DeLooper is the head of outreach and best practices for PPPL

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