Election Day = Sci-Ed Day

Students were off from school on Election Day, November 8, but that day, nearly 140 teachers from 11 districts went on a field trip to Brookhaven Lab. There, the teachers scoured the surface of the sun for sunspots, grew and characterized crystals, and joined in a number of other interactive workshops during the Laboratory’s first-ever Sci-Ed Day.

Many schools across the country close on Election Day each year while the buildings are used as polling places for voting. Very often, school districts require that teachers use the student-free day to pursue professional development training to improve their teaching.

“What better day to invite teachers to the Laboratory to explore, meet our scientists, and learn about the cutting-edge research happening here?” asked Bernadette Uzzi, acting supervisor for the Lab’s Science Learning Center. As part of the Laboratory’s Office of Educational Programs (OEP), she coordinated Sci-Ed Day with help from every scientific directorate on site, and Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Sciences.

Participating teachers — who teach students ranging in age from kindergarteners to high school seniors — began Sci-Ed Day in Berkner Hall where they were welcomed by Ken White, OEP manager, and Associate Laboratory Director for Global and Regional Solutions Gerry Stokes.

“You are going to see a lot while you are here today, but don’t get overwhelmed by what we’ve already learned — think about how we learn it,” said Stokes, whose past experience includes working on national science education standards for the National Research Council.

Teachers then hopped aboard busses and were taken to different places across the site, where BNL scientists and staff greeted them and taught workshops. BNLers Jennifer Perez, Adam Rusek, and Mike Sivertz taught a workshop titled, “Error in Measurement”; Ali Pulecio and Mary Riotto, “Integrate and Differentiate! Balloonology”; Steve Bellavia, Sue Frank, Justine Haupt, and Paul O’Connor, “The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope”; Oleg Gang, Javier Pulecio, Dmytro Nykypanchuk, and Kaitlin Thomassen, “Nanotechnology and Solar Energy”; Kahille Dorsinvil, Debbie Lohman, and Mel Morris, “The Open Space Stewardship Program”; Carl Czajkowski and Susan Pepper, “The Physics of Homeland Security”; Howard Gordon, Derek Lowenstein, and Gene Van Buren, “Smashing Atoms: The Past, Present, and Future of RHIC and ATLAS”; and Krystal Cole and Alex Soares, “Structural Biology and Drug Design.”

Before leaving for the day, the teachers returned to Berkner Hall. Brookhaven Deputy Director for Science and Technology Doon Gibbs thanked the teachers for their participation, and discussed the importance of scientists and science educators working together to inspire students to become the Nation’s next generation of scientists and researchers.

“Overall, Sci-Ed Day was a success,” Uzzi said. “Many of the surveys that the teachers completed indicated that they would like to learn more about the science at Brookhaven and participate in more workshops here. I hope we can offer them similar opportunities again next Election Day and at other times throughout the year.”

2011-2702  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom