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In July, twenty public school teachers visited the eXploration Station as a part of the Summer Science Snapshot for Educators program. Over the course of three days, the teachers participated in a variety of lessons and activities geared towards basic engineering, problem solving and scientific thinking. This Science Snapshot provided teachers with ideas and activities to better implement the principles of engineering in their classrooms, and allowed them to dry-run prepared materials. The focus of their investigations? To eventually design and build a device to measure light penetration. The teachers were then able to test their designs in Cayuga Lake aboard the Floating Classroom. Lisa Hirt, a fourth teacher from West Genesee School District in Syracuse NY commented, “We got to really feel like scientists when testing the waters at different depths.”

Investigating the properties of light 1
 
Investigating the properties of light 2

Teachers in the Summer Science Snapshot for Educators program investigating the properties of light.

In addition to their explorations and planning, the teachers learned more about CHESS. They toured the G1 and F3 hutches and learned more about high-energy light sources from Richard Gillilan and Arthur Woll. Richard also gave a presentation about the synchrotron, providing interactive activities to demonstrate concepts such as how light travels, sources and brightness of light, how light is focused, and the necessity of precise measurements.

“I was ready for Danishes and videos,” Eric Reiff, a teacher at Ithaca City School District, Ithaca NY confessed on the first day of the program, remarking on the refreshing interactive aspects of the Snapshot program. Instead, the workshop helped him and other teachers discover—through hands-on exploration—the brainstorming, teamwork, trial and error, and adaptability necessary for problem solving and engineering, and how to teach complex concepts to students.

Designing light intensity meter

The team designing a light intensity meter.

The final day of the workshop was dedicated to designing and developing individual lesson plans to incorporate the concepts learned by working with Xraise staff and CHESS scientists. Teachers were forced to consider factors such as the age of their students, budget limitations, and cohesion of material between grades. “I really appreciated the time set aside to formulate a plan for instruction next year” remarked Susie Coleman, an educator from Milford Central School District, Milford NY. “This will be a valuable resource that may be used by other teachers in my district as well.”

 

 

Submitted by:

Rachel Brock and Lora Hine
CHESS, Cornell University
09/04/2014