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Science Outreach - Science on Saturday
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Objective: To help middle and elementary school students better understand science principles and to showcase to the public the work of the national laboratory.

Participants: Chapter members, schoolteachers, students, and the public

Description: The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) Science and Technology Education Program (STEP) gives six lecture/demonstrations a year to the general public with a special focus on middle and elementary school students. The Science on Saturday lectures are held at the LLNL where the presentations are made by researchers employed at the lab. The researchers explain their current area of research through lectures, demonstrations, slides and overheads. Students from the audience are asked to assist the researchers with demonstrations. Working closely with educators familiar with the state school standards, the researchers develop lectures that help meet the education objectives for students. Working with teachers also ensures that students will understand the lectures. The hour and one half-long lectures include demonstrations every five to ten minutes to keep the students engaged. The lectures also offer an opportunity for the public to get a better idea of the work of the lab. This in turn can lead to long term support for public funding of national laboratories. Many people in the community do not realize that the lab does work in areas such as cancer research in addition to its more publicized work in weapons research.

In addition to Science on Saturday, LLNL has a program, the Edward Teller Science and Technology Education Symposium, to provide teachers with cutting edge research issues that they can integrate into their classroom lessons. The researchers work with a core group of specially trained teachers to translate the research issues into lessons that any science teacher can recreate in their classroom. As with Science on Saturday, state school standards are addressed when developing the lessons. Any interested science high school or community college science teacher can apply to attend the symposium with the goal for the training being teachers able to reproduce the lecture for their students. Overheads, handouts and other materials are developed for the teachers. A Web site has all the necessary lesson plans. This has proven to be a valuable resource for teachers because many science textbooks are not current with the latest issues in research.

Cost implications and source of funds: Costs associated with Science on Saturday include overhead slides or other audio/visual materials and materials necessary for the demonstrations. The symposium involves a potion of an administrator's salary, stipends for the teachers that assist the researchers, numerous handouts and research materials for the teachers attending the training and media production costs. Funding for the symposium is part of the education budget at LLNL.

Time Commitment: About 20 hours per lecture.

Co-sponsors/Partners: Both Science on Saturday and the symposium require support from the LLNL in addition to the LLNL Sigma Xi chapter.

Number of People Involved: Science on Saturday attracts about 220 attendees for each of the six lectures. The symposium involves about 113 teachers in the training who then reproduce the lectures to their students.

Outreach/Publicity: As a result of this program, the Laboratory has received much publicity; lectures are promoted using local media, but coverage of the events has been national and even international.

Sigma Xi membership implications: There is no particular membership implication with this program. However, researchers who are asked to give lectures should be considered for Sigma Xi membership.

Checklist for Science on Saturday:

  • Arrange for researchers to do lectures.
  • Arrange for lecture hall.
  • Review demonstration safety issues with researchers giving lecture.
  • Send announcements about the lectures to the local paper, to internal public affairs office, and schools
  • Recruit chapter members to serve as ushers or assistants the day of the lectures.

Contact Information: Ron Weinberg weinberg1@llnl.gov or to see details about the program http://education.llnl.gov/sos/

 

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