Summer Sundays are a Huge Success, Again!

Nearly 5,000 community members visited the Lab

The Stakeholder and Community Relations staff, participating scientists, and other Brookhaven Lab volunteers bade farewell to our final 2016 Summer Sundays visitors on July 31st. On four consecutive Sundays, the Lab opened its gate to the community to share its passion for discovery. The Lab has held “visitors days” since the 1950s. 

This year, more than 4,700 neighbors and guests from across Long Island and beyond visited the Lab to listen to talks by scientists and learn about our cutting-edge research and world-class science facilities, including the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, National Synchrotron Light Source II, and Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.

Kicking off the 2016 Summer Sundays tours on July 10, visitors participated in hands-on activities at the Science Learning Center, watched the “Magic of Science” show, and took part in the Environmental Extravaganza on Family Fun Day. One young budding scientist said his favorite thing to learn about was pH—a measure of how acidic or basic a solution is. Another said learning about how researchers use radiotelemetry to track turtles in the woods was his favorite part of the day.

The following Sunday, community members toured the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN), where scientists explained how and why they study structures and materials as tiny as a billionth of a meter and how their discoveries can help address the nation's energy challenges. Survey comments included “Absolutely perfect,” “Educational and entertaining” and “Thanks for doing this, we learned a lot!”

On July 24, visitors toured the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS-II), the powerful photon microscope designed to deliver world-leading intensity and brightness. Guided tours of the synchrotron, as well as hands-on activities, were highlights of the day. For example, to show the cooling power of liquid nitrogen, used at NSLS-II to make the magnets conduct electricity with zero resistance, scientists exposed everyday objects like flowers and pennies to liquid nitrogen and showed how they become fragile when they are cooled to minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit. They also used marshmallow Peeps to show how materials react (the Peeps expand!) in a vacuum, such as the one that stores the particle beam in the light source. Visitors learned about the basics of crystallography and built their own edible crystal structures out of gumdrops, and were also delighted by the Science Spectacular Laser Light Show. Comments included “I loved it here” and “Great idea to open the Lab to the public to help educate and inform them.”

Last but not least, on July 31, the 2016 Summer Sundays concluded with a tour of the STAR and PHENIX detectors and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider—the only particle collider in the United States— where visitors listened to scientists explain their quest to study what the universe may have looked like in the first few moments after its creation. Various activities, such as trying to “stump a physicist,” were all part of the day that also included the “Phenomenal Physics by Mr. Fish” show. Comments from visitors included “Great program aimed at all ages,” and “Great people doing great things.”

Clearly, survey comments from visitors were very positive. Most indicated that they were impressed by what they had the chance to see and learn. The general consensus is that the Lab’s neighbors continue to be amazed by its dedication to promoting science and discovery and helping educate future generations.

Kahille Dorsinvil, who coordinates the Summer Sundays program, agrees: “The wide-eyed wonder in the eyes of the kids and the smiles and appreciation from the adults say it all,” she said. “These tours are not only appreciated and worthwhile, but also inspirational. I especially want to thank the hundreds of employee volunteers, Lab retirees, and all of the staff who work together and contribute in meaningful ways to make our program a huge success every year. Stay tuned for next year’s schedule!”

2016-6515  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom