Physics Outreach in Southern Illinois and St. Louis High Schools

Univ. of Pittsburgh and Univ. of Missouri at St. Louis

  • Since 1997 Julia Thompson has been gradually increasing her physics outreach to high schools in the greater St. Louis area and adjoining areas in southern Illinois. In 2003 she will be associated with the University of Missouri at St. Louis Physics Department. Teachers interested in collaborating with her in the NSF-sponsored RET (Research Experiences for Teachers program, or receiving credit through UMSL for work with her should apply here.

  • During part of each year she is in residence in southern Illinois with her family and while there she collaborates with local high school physics teachers on expanding hands on work in their classes. One popular hands-on activity for high school students ties together scattering by light and as a tool for observing structure in elementary particles . Another simple hands-on activity for high school students is a current electricity lab introducing students to parallel and series circuits .

  • As an outgrowth of the REUPFOM program and associated work with high school teachers on both research opportunities and on improving hands on experiences for their students, and her longstanding interest in cosmic rays, dating from her postdoctoral work at the University of Utah, Thompson, together with Senior Research Associate David Kraus, is exploring the possibility of studying ultra high energy cosmic rays through detectors placed in high schools.

  • An outgrowth of her interest in outreach activities has recently led to collaboration with Bill Willis and Jeremy Dodd of Columbia University in outreach work in South Africa. As an outgrowth of these outreach activities, a new idea is being explored in 2002-2003, the use of the "mini-Exploratorium" idea to connect college, high school, and middle school or younger physics students.

  • In summer 2002 we began Quarknet activities, and we hope to continue these in 2003 with two lead teachers working with partly through UMSL on the CosRayHS project, and partly participating in a teacher workshop at Fermilab and partly with the MINOS experiment.

    She has been aided in this work by Dave Kraus and for a time, during the directorship of Prof. Virginia Bryan, collaborated with the middle school and chemistry outreach work of the SIUE Office of Science and Math Education (OSME). As an example, the schedule of visits in 2001 included one or more visits to each of 10 high schools, and initiation of work with the SIUE TRIO UPWARD BOUND program. A similar schedule was followed in 2002.

    Last Modified December 18, 2002 by J. A. Thompson