Pop-Up Physics

Planning outreach in conjunction with a conference or meeting? Try reaching young people in their neighborhoods rather than expecting them to come to your venue. This should increase the diversity of your audiences. It did for us at ICHEP2016 in Chicago. Because the conference was held in August, schools were not in session so we partnered with the Chicago Public Libraries to offer 30 programs throughout the city. Presenters were graduate students and conference attendees (and a few Fermilab veterans). We suggest that you find a partner that is already offering programming for young people. We wanted our program to engage the students, so we offered six existing Fermilab classroom demonstrations. We needed a budget for new materials and transportation for the presenters. We wanted our effort to be win-win, so we worked closely with the librarians to explain what we could offer and built a schedule that met their needs and interests. They announced the program and prepared a press release through their normal channels. The following worked well:

  • Providing training for all presenters, including lunch
  • Scheduling two-person teams for each presentation
  • Delivering and collecting the demonstration kits so that presenters needed only arrive and set up; we reimbursed our drivers according to Uber rates.
  • Providing transportation for the presenters (We gave each person $50 for cab fare, etc.)
  • Collecting feedback from presenters and librarians (We were informal: How did it go?)

Most children have few role models for scientists. By organizing a program like this one we can change their ideas. We are real people, just like them. Maybe they can be a scientist too.

2 boys at ICHEP 2016 in Chicago

girl at ICHEP 2016 in Chicago