National Lab Day brings Fermilab physics to students
“I want to try, too!” This was the chorus that rang out across Jennifer Wardynski’s sixth grade class last Tuesday, when Fermilab’s Al Sondgeroth got students involved in a demonstration of angular momentum at Annunciation BVM elementary school in Aurora.
Sondgeroth was one of 20 Fermilab volunteers who gave hands-on presentations in area elementary and high schools last week to celebrate National Lab Day. His presentation gave students an opportunity to experience Issac Newton’s laws in action.
“It helped bridge the gap between the abstract concepts of physics and real-world applications that are all around us,” Wardynski said.
In addition to Sondgeroth’s presentation on force and motion, volunteers talked about topics such as electricity and magnetism, light and color and the physics of sports.
On Thursday, Fermilab Deputy Director Young-Kee Kim spoke to the young women in teacher Falguni Soni’s chemistry classes at Rosary High School. Her visit to Rosary was prompted in part by the interest of sophomore Emily Launer, who wrote a prize-winning research piece on the history of Fermilab.
Kim discussed the field of particle physics and some of the scientific mysteries that Fermilab pursues. She also encouraged the girls who have an interest in science and advised them not to be daunted by a field historically dominated by men.
Many of the students said the presentation helped them relate the science that they are learning about in the classroom to the physics at Fermilab.
“It was all really interesting,” said junior Mary LeDoux. “I had heard some of the information about science done at Fermilab before but it really helps to hear it all again because these are very deep concepts.”
National Lab Day is a response to President Obama’s call to encourage students across the country to learn about math, science, technology and engineering. Over the course of the week, Fermilab presentations reached about 2500 elementary and high school students.
by Daisy Yuhas
This story first appeared in Fermilab Today on May 12, 2010.