Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Teacher’s Day

By John DeLooper

The morning started very early. I got to visit with my fellow hotel guests at about 1:15 a.m. when the fire alarm went off – no fire, just a false alarm. Today is an outreach day. We have more than 60 teachers here. After an introduction, they attended a workshop to cover the basics of plasma – our Plasma 101 course. It is given by three individuals – the groups are broken up into middle school teachers, high school and advanced high school. I presented the middle school session using PowerPoint slides, movies, and hands-on demos. There were 33 teachers in the session with several visitors (folks who help run the Teacher’s Day event, including Deedee Ortiz from the PPPL Science Education group). Workshop topics included– cosmology, fusion demonstrations for the classroom, the electromagnetic spectrum, light and nature of matter, understanding Newton’s laws, and Stars: Plasma physics in the sky. Here, teachers learn about the electromagnetic spectrum in a lecture by Rick Lee from General Atomics.

All of the teachers have lunch with one or two scientists at each table. These are scientists who are attending the conference.

Teachers ask questions and learn. A couple of gifts are given away – three $50 coupons to buy supplies, a couple of plasma balls and some money to buy a lighting fixture. The fixture will be used to hold a half-coated fluorescent lamp given to the teachers by the Coalition for Plasma Science. It is part of a goodie bag of information and supplies given to the teachers at the end of the day. Teachers will also have an opportunity to bring their students to the plasma expo which will be held on Thursday and Friday.

This afternoon the educational poster session occurred. This allows students who have worked at the Laboratory or another research organization to present their results to the scientific community. Thirty-one students supported by PPPL programs presented their research at this poster session. In addition, three of our PPPL science educators presented posters on our work – Andrew Zwicker, Stephanie Wissel and Aliya Merali. The students’ posters are judged by scientists (the students don’t know who is judging) and the best are recognized in a student appreciation session at 6 p.m. (Just another long but worthwhile day at APS!)

In addition to these activities, there was another full day of technical sessions, posters and other meetings conducted through the day.
--November 15, 2011
John DeLooper is the head of outreach and best practices at PPPL

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