I am always incredibly excited whenever I can educate young people about science, whether it's in my professional role as Head of Science Education at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, or in my role as a Member of the General Assembly. Hands on science and engineering programs are vital to inspiring life-long learners, as well as sparking careers in STEM fields. It was a joy to watch these kids experiment, grow, and have fun!
PRINCETON – From making students' hair stand on end to helping them turn on a light bulb using just a wire and a battery, the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab gave middle school students a day last week that will be hard to forget.
The event, called My Brother's Keeper, was part of a national "Week at the Labs," an initiative meant to spark an interest in the STEM fields for students in elementary, middle and high schools across the country. The "My Brother's Keeper" event in particular was started by President Barack Obama to inspire boys and men of color to pursue an education, according to a statement from the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL).
Andrew Zwicker, the Head of Science Education at the lab, said he brought the idea of participating in the event to Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, who encouraged him to bring in students from John Witherspoon Middle School.
The school chose a group of participants and on Friday, the students came to the lab where they spent nearly three hours doing science experiments.
Those ranged from making nitrogen ice cream to watching an electromagnet repel and levitate a copper ring.
When the students used a wire, a battery and a small light bulb to create a circuit that actually turned the bulb on, Program Leader Shannon Greco said she was amazed.
A similar task was given to a group of Harvard University students on their graduation day and some of those students couldn't do it, she said.
"I was impressed at how quickly they solved problems," she added.
For Greco and Physicist Arturo Dominguez, the day was a chance to expose students to a kind of learning they might not get otherwise and possibly even instill a love of the sciences.
"The more exposure they have to these things, the more likely they are to support STEM," Greco said.
It seems their efforts weren't in vain. Middle School student Korein Ammons, who participated in the event Friday, said he was inspired.
"It felt cool learning about things that other people do to make the world a better place," he said.