By Morgan McCorkle
Hundreds of science-minded students bypassed Saturday morning cartoons this semester, opting instead to participate in the first year of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Science Saturdays program.
Open to students in grades 8-12, the program’s free weekend lectures and hands-on activities centered on the science of rainbows, robotics and remote handling, the materials genome, crystals, biofuels, supercomputing, climate change, and more.
“Science Saturdays was designed to introduce area students to the world-class research in science and engineering that’s happening in their back yard,” said Ian Anderson, ORNL director of Graduate Education and University Partnerships.
The free program spanned 10 Saturdays and attracted approximately 200 students from 50 regional high schools and middle schools since its launch in February.
Coordinated by Oak Ridge Associated Universities, ORNL researchers partnered with high school science teachers to develop lectures and hands-on activities in their area of expertise. Slides and videos of this year’s presentations are available at http://www.orau.org/science-saturdays/.
On the final Science Saturday, students had the chance to visit ORNL for tours of the lab’s Spallation Neutron Source, the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, supercomputing facilities, and the historic Graphite Reactor.
“I’d like to thank all our wonderful staff who volunteered to make this program a great success in its first year,” Anderson said. “It’s a terrific way to get kids engaged in science and help them understand how they can use their education to make an impact in a multitude of fields.”
Students who attended four of the first seven Saturdays were also eligible to apply for more hands-on science activities by submitting an essay on one of the National Academy of Engineers “Grand Engineering Challenges.” Ten students will be selected for unpaid summer internships at ORNL, working with lab mentors in a variety of fields.
Organizers hope to continue Science Saturdays in the coming fall semester with a new series of speakers and activities. For those interested in learning more or participating in next year’s program, visit the Science Saturdays website or contact Ian Anderson at [email protected] or (865) 576-7777.