2017 May 17 - June 29
2017 October 11 - December 21
2017 Proposal deadline: 08/01/17
2017 BTR deadline: 09/10/17
Students from all over the US are here at CHESS doing summer research as part of four programs—SRCCS, REU, LSamp, and SunRISE. In addition to the research they are doing in our laboratory, each of these summer interns is giving six hours of their time to science in the community organized through our outreach program, Xraise. This arrangement allows the undergraduates an opportunity to hone their skills of public communication and interpersonal skills, while pushing them to articulate difficult concepts in an easily digestible way. This benefits the public not only by providing direct interactions with the science, but it also allows a personal connection with ambitious new researchers who are energetic and eager to share their interests.
Xraise collaborated with two local organizations, the Sciencenter and the Physics Bus. The project began with undergraduate students being introduced to the best practices of science communication by Michelle Kortenaar, the Sciencenter’s Director of Education. Here they learned some core ideas when it comes to informal science: less is more when it comes to explaining things with words, and allow the participant to take ownership in the process of discovery.
Once the students understood the mission and how to best serve it, four events were offered for the pubic to engage in synchrotron science through electricity and light. Two of these events were hosted at Ithaca’s Sciencenter, where families enjoyed interactive demonstrations and then were invited to build their own device to take home. Two more events were hosted at area community centers: the Greater Ithaca Activity Center and Brooktondale Community Center. At these two events, undergraduates served as facilitators for Xraise’s JunkGenies exhibition of uncommon physics phenomena aboard the mobile platform, the Physics Bus.
The outreach component of the summer research experience, forcing students to further understand and articulate their mental models of physical systems in lay terms, is a key element in the growth of a scientist as a communicator. Meanwhile over 200 people from our community were given opportunities to explore and directly interact with electricity and light, augmenting their understanding of synchrotron science.
Submitted by: Erik Herman, CHESS, Cornell University