Outside of academics and research, I have always left time to participate in community outreach events. Outreach is a great way to share my interest in physics and astronomy with both younger and older students who may be unable to easily explore different topics in science because of the unavailability of resources in school. Cultivating and continuing interest in the sciences with younger students is important for our society, and giving students with less educational advantages an opportunity to explore their interests is important. The fact that many students do not interact with scientists before college, or not at all, is troubling to me and I want to continue to implement programs that expose more students to what science research is like.
AT the UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
The Department of Astronomy at the University of Florida has a rich history in community outreach. Every year, graduate and undergraduate students take part in school visits, where we are able to interact with elementary to middle school aged students and discuss broad topics in astronomy and physics. UF’s proximity to local schools gives us excellent opportunities to share our love of astronomy with the next generation.
The University of Florida Department of Astronomy’s flagship outreach event is Starry Night, held annually in November. Around 2000 community members attend, interacting with the entire department to learn about astronomy.
AT the UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Society of Physics Students (SPS)
SPS’s annual outreach event at UIUC’s Engineering Open House meant we could interact with students from all over the state of Illinois. Thousands of community members attend EOH every spring on the UIUC campus. Past SPS exhibits include an electricity and magnetism room and a non-Newtonian physics display. Over the course of two days, some 500 children and adults enjoy entertaining physics demos and learn firsthand from undergrad students.
Physics Young Scholars
I was a part of the pilot program for the Young Scholars summer research experience. This program invited students from underrepresented minorities in STEM to do hands on research in physics labs. Research projects included optics calibration as part of an instrument for searches for the neutron electric dipole moment and work on dark matter detectors. For 10 weeks over the course of summer 2017, students would attend workshops about resumes, research posters, and presentation skills. Working in Dr. Douglas Beck’s lab, I acted as a mentor to a local high school student, guiding the student through a real research project from initial experiment design to presentation of results. Learn More →
Society of Women in Physics (SWIP)
I participated in SWIP in activities that celebrated and promoted the participation of women in physics and other STEM fields, including mentorship workshops with female faculty members.