FRIB hosted several online summer schools and seminars for science exploration

FRIB hosted or contributed to a number of online summer schools and seminars to allow students, educators, and early-career scientists the opportunity to explore the world of science.

“The rapid change to an online format was a daunting task, but also offered many opportunities for creativity,” said Outreach Coordinator Zachary Constan. “Our laboratory cares very much about sharing our research with the public, and we were excited to still have the opportunity through remote learning.”

MSU Gifted And Talented Education program
6-10 July and 13-17 July

NSCL and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics - Center for the Evolution of the Elements (JINA-CEE) provided short courses in nuclear astrophysics for this summer’s online programs through MSU’s Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) office. The Gifted University for Parents and Precocious Youth (GUPPY) program invited elementary-school students to explore new academic subjects. The Math, Science, Technology (MST) program offered a variety of advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classes to middle-school students.

Students in fifth and sixth grades remotely attended a JINA-sponsored nuclear astrophysics course within GUPPY. Twenty-two future nuclear scientists explored reactions, radioactivity, and research careers.

The next week, 21 middle-school students in the MST program remotely learned similar subjects, and their course also covered the chemical evolution of the universe and a review of current research by MSU undergrads.

American Association of Physics Teachers 2020 Virtual Summer Meeting
19-22 July

Many representatives from FRIB and the Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Physics and Astronomy had their presentations featured at the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) 2020 Virtual Summer Meeting. Professor of Physics Artemis Spyrou and University Distinguished Professor of Physics Wolfgang Bauer, both from MSU and FRIB, gave two of the meeting’s plenary talks. In addition, Zach Constan presented the lab’s available resources for students and teachers.

AAPT is a professional physics science society dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in physical science education. It was founded in 1930 and has members from around the world. Nearly 1,200 science educators attended this summer’s meeting.

Physics of Atomic Nuclei (PAN) @ Michigan State Experience
27-31 July

Physics of Atomic Nuclei (PAN), a free week-long program for high-school students, is sponsored by the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics - Center for the Evolution of the Elements (JINA-CEE), which is a Physics Frontier Center funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The program introduces participants to the fundamentals of the domain of atomic nuclei and its connection to the domain of astrophysics and cosmology.

This year, the twenty-seventh annual PAN was remotely hosted. More than 30 volunteers from eight JINA-CEE institutions recorded presentations, developed research projects, and geared up to mentor small groups. Due to this year’s online program, PAN was able to host more high-school students at once: 35 compared to the usual 24, hailing from 17 states.

While there were changes due to the shift to online programming, post-surveys revealed the most important result: PAN Online’s impact on students was very similar to that of the in-person programs of previous years. 

NS3 Nuclear Science Summer School
3-7 August

NS3 Nuclear Science Summer School (NS3) introduces undergraduate students to the nuclear science field. NS3 is hosted annually by MSU and offers lectures and activities covering selected nuclear science and astrophysics topics. The school is supported by the National Science Foundation through the “Windows on the Universe: Nuclear Astrophysics at the NSCL” grant.

This year, NS3 served 16 undergraduate students online. Participants engaged in a variety of activities focused on nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics. Each day focused on a different but interconnected topic. The group activities were preceded by short online lectures on the properties of atomic nuclei, nucleosynthesis, heavy-element nucleosynthesis, measuring nuclear reactions in the laboratory, and cosmology and messengers. Each day, the students remotely watched an introductory video, attended in a question-and-answer session, and participated in an activity. Students worked in groups in online break-out rooms, and materials were shared and worked on in an online format. Postdoctoral researchers at the laboratory helped deliver the activities.

The students were engaged during the week-long course, and feedback about the online format has been positive. They said they enjoyed mostly working in the same groups so they could get to know each other better while attending the online school.