Monday, February 25, 2013

UNO Physics Students Share Knowledge Through Community Outreach

TiwariSenior undergraduate student Ganesh Tiwari demonstrates Faraday’s Law to a group of students using a small electric motor.
Each student is making his/her own motor
with a battery, disk magnet, coil of wire,
safety pins and electrical tape.

Physics students at the University of New Orleans are making strides to encourage development of science skills and interest among youngsters in the Greater New Orleans community.

Last month, four members of the student-led UNO chapter of the Society of Physics Students contributed their time to work with sixth- through eighth-graders in an outreach program aimed at minority students from a low-income background.

"This is something we want to encourage. In the future hopefully we'll be more connected to AAPT and other associations and will be working with more" young people to introduce them to the world of science, said Kevin Stokes, chair of the UNO physics department.

The University chapter of the Society of Physics Students, also known as the physics club, is open to all majors who have an interest in science and is led by faculty mentor Greg Seab, who is a physics professor, Stokes said. On January 9, four members helped present an outreach program at the American Association of Physics Teachers Winter 2013 meeting held in New Orleans.

More than 100 sixth- through eighth-grade students from Jefferson Parish attended the program, called "SEES - Student Experiences in Engineering and Science," Stokes said. For three hours, the middle schoolers engaged in hands-on activities designed to teach them about gravity, electricity and magnetism. They divided into four groups and rotated through four stations where they enjoyed learning through scientific experimentation.

UNO students Ganesh Tiwari, Sanshrut Sapkota, Charles Crawford and Harris Lam manned the four stations and led the middle schoolers through experiments, Stokes said. Tiwari and Sapkota are UNO senior physics undergraduates; Crawford is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Applied Physics and Lam is a graduate student working toward a doctorate in engineering and applied science, he said.

Middle schoolers each received a take-home bag containing items intended to pique their curiosity and encourage them to consider following a STEM- related path as they continue their education through middle school and in to high school, according to program literature.

The annual event is facilitated and presented by several SPS students and faculty, SPS National office staff and AAPT volunteers.