The Physics department at Syracuse University has a long tradition of public engagement and outreach to the local community. Here, I highlight a few of the events and activities we hosted and some new programs we are developing.
NEW! Summer High School Program
We are very excited about our new Syracuse University Research in Physics (SURPh) for high school students that we launched in summer 2022 The inaugural program took place between June 27 - August 5, in collaboration with the Syracuse City Schools. Thanks to Physics undergraduate student Ruell Branch, who connected us with his former high school physics teacher, Melanie Pelcher, we have forged further connections with the physics teachers from Syracuse City Schools. In this first year, we recruited 13 students into our research labs this summer.
Four faculty members: Alison Patteson, Denver Whittington, Eric Coughlin, and Jenny Ross, wrote for supplemental funding on their current NSF grants to fund 2 to 4 high school students each. These faculty visited every single physics class in the Syracuse City School district at Henninger High School, Fowler High School, Corcoran High School, Nottingham High School, and Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central High School. Those visits encouraged 30 outstanding local students to apply. Unfortunately, we could only sponsor 13 participants.
In addition to generous stipends that allowed them to not have to have second summer jobs, we supplied breakfast and lunch, and transportation or parking for each student. We are already planning summer 2023 and hope to expand with new funding sources and more NSF supplemental funding from additional labs and research groups. We also set our sights on expanding to the Onondaga Nation school in Lafayette, NY, to encourage historically excluded students from Indigenous backgrounds to get into physics! To learn more about the program and its impact, read this article from the Syracuse City School District and this article from Arts and Sciences News. If you are interested to help us with this program, reach out! Donate now.
Physics Alliance of Central New York
For the past 30 years, Syracuse University Physics has run a program connecting high school Physics teachers in and around Central New York to one another. Although the program had a break during the pandemic, it came back this year including a “make-and-take” on Saturday, May 7. Teachers gathered in the Physics building, shared stories, and listened to a few talks and opportunities from Syracuse University Physics professors Joey Paulsen and Eric Coughlin and Ithaca High School Teacher, Deborah Lynn. The make-and-take is an activity where physics teachers get to make a physics demonstration for their classroom.
Regional AAPT Conference
October 22-23, the Physics Department hosted a regional American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) conference and a Physics Alliance of CNY event. Friday night kicked off with a demo show from Sam Sampere, co-organizer of the event. A few others joined to demonstrate their favorite physics demos, too. On Saturday morning, Professor Emeritus Allen Miller was the keynote speaker discussing the longevity of the Physics Alliance of CNY.
Caption: Regional AAPT and Physics Alliance Meeting, Fall 2021. Left: Sam Sampere and high school physics teacher making liquid nitrogen ice cream on the first night. Middle: Fayetteville-Manlius high school physics teacher showing off his vintage Syracuse University Physics t-shirt. Right: All participants, in person and on zoom at the AAPT regional conference.
Regional AAPT and Physics Alliance Meeting, Fall 2021. Left: Sam Sampere and high school physics teacher making liquid nitrogen ice cream on the first night. Middle: Fayetteville-Manlius high school physics teacher showing off his vintage Syracuse University Physics t-shirt. Right: All participants, in person and on zoom at the AAPT regional conference.
QuarkNet is an outreach program for local high school teachers that provides professional development and ongoing support in the form of hands-on workshops, mentoring and discussions based on the research of particle physics. The Syracuse group hosted the last two Quarknet workshops from Aug 16-8, 2021 and more recently Aug 8-10, 2022. . The program was developed by Prof. Steven Blusk, Shane Wood (Quarknet Staff), and our lead teachers Michal Madden and Brian Bealer. Nine teachers were able to join the workshop (after a couple of late cancellations).
QuarkNet summer group in the LHCb lab space.
A report of the three-day workshop program in 2021 is available at the Quarknet website.
Grad Student Outreach
At the end of last year, two grad students, Sarthak Gupta and Merrill Asp, applied for and were awarded an outreach grant from the NY section of the American Physical Society (APS-NYSS). The award was to allow them, along with other grad students, to visit local schools to give talks about their research in soft matter and biophysics. Merrill and Sarthak have done an outstanding job of working with local teachings, going to their classrooms, and offering novel glimpses of interdisciplinary physics research. Their work has been highlighted in two recent articles from the College of Arts and Sciences News team. Reaching Out: Grad Students Inspire and Teach Local High Schoolers and All they need are space and time: Graduate students bring physics to local classrooms with outreach program