Success Stories

Alaina G. Levine, The University of Arizona

At the UA Physics Department, we created an Open House program called the “Educational Outreach and Shadow Program for High School and Middle School Students.” Below is the information provided on the Physics Department website (www.physics.arizona.edu) about this program:

Each month, students are invited to the Physics Department to tour laboratories, meet with professors and students, and sit in on classes and labs.
Program participants "shadow" physics faculty and researchers to gain insight into the careers of academic physicists. The goal of the program is to encourage young students to study physics and related subjects, and to excite them about physics research and careers.

Program Logistics

Each month, about five students participate in the shadow program. The small number allows for a maximum amount of attention to be given to the students. Participants are contacted in advance to discuss their particular interests in physics in order to match them with professors and students whose research interests are similar to those of the participant.

Students spend a morning at the UA, meeting with professors and college students who study physics and engineering physics. They receive tours of laboratories that are of general interest, such as the carbon-dating laboratory and the biophysics lab.

Students are then paired with professors in a particular subdiscipline of physics to learn the details of the profession. Program participants receive individual attention during these sessions and our hope is to foster their interest in physics through self-discovery of what working physicists do. The highlight of the day is an informal luncheon with the Department Head, in which the students may reflect on the day's activities and ask questions about physics, college life, etc. Students participate in the Shadow Program accompanied by a mentor from their school (teacher or guidance counselor) who is invited to participate in the tours, meetings, and luncheon.

Participation

Students interested in participation in this program should speak with their science teacher or guidance counselor. While it is left to the individual school to decide which students may participate, we encourage schools to consider al students for this program. We hope to have students involved from all grade levels and abilities, including gifted and talented and learning disabled students. In selecting the students for participation, we encourage schools not to base decision solely on grades, but more so on desire and interest. We especially encourage minority and female students to take advantage of this excellent educational opportunity.

How to Get Involved

If your school is interested in participating in this free educational program, please contact us via email at pr@physics.arizona.edu.
Please have a particular month in mind. The day and time will be arranged upon confirmation of your school's involvement in the program. You are encouraged to contact us as soon as possible, since there are a limited number of schools that may participate each academic year.

Promotion

In the past, we have sent letters to school principals, although promoting this through the local chapter and listserv of AAPT and the National Association of Science Teachers has been very helpful too.