FRIB/NSCL host ‘Physicists Inspiring the Next Generation’ program

From 27 July to 3 August, FRIB and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) hosted a pilot program titled “Physicists Inspiring the Next Generation (PING): Exploring the Nuclear Matter.” Four high-school students from the Hampton City School District, two undergraduate physics majors from Hampton University, and two Students Training and Engagement Program for Undergraduates in Physics (STEP UP) coordinators participated in the program.

STEP UP is a national organization of physics teachers, researchers, and professional societies that designs high-school physics lessons to inspire young women to pursue physics in college. It is a joint initiative between FRIB and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.

The annual “Physicists Inspiring the Next Generation (PING): Investigating the Cosmos” program was launched in 2014, during MSU Associate Professor of Physics Paul Gueye's tenure as the president of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP). It is a collaboration between NSBP, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and Associated Universities Inc. to focus on multiple levels of physics and astronomy.

The program includes a two-week summer program to expose twenty middle- and high-school students to the fields of physics and astronomy and an eight- to ten-week program to cultivate interest in physics for four undergraduate students. Pre-college students are placed in groups of five, each supervised by one undergraduate student.

Over the course of one week, the students:

  • built and tested two parallel plate avalanche chambers,
  • worked with the NSCL detector group and scientists,
  • toured the NSCL lab,
  • received a two-part lecture on nuclear astrophysics,
  • met with various postdoctoral and graduate students,
  • attended the Modular Neutron Array Collaboration meeting (since they will be part of a long-term effort to assist in a beam position monitoring system under development),
  • and delivered an oral presentation on their last day.

In addition, the students were invited to present their work at the annual National Astronomy Consortium and NSBP meetings this fall.