Super Teacher is Heading to the Super Collider
Last year, after school adjourned, she spent eight weeks at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) outside of Chicago boning up on primary particle detectors during an internship with the Fermilab’s teacher research associate program. But she was just getting warmed up.
This year she’s going continental. In July she’ll spend three weeks at the CERN facilities near Geneva, Switzerland.
CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, and it employs the largest, most sophisticated scientific instruments in the world trying to figure out what makes the universe tick, down to the minutest subatomic specks of matter. For instance, deep beneath the Franco-Swiss border hums the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It’s the collider that’s large. The hadrons are small on an infinitesimal scale. The LHC is sort of an autobahn where protons and ions are used as crash test dummies to simulate a reenactment of the Big Bang, the ultimate in layman’s terminology.
The CERN summer residential program for high school teachers was established in 1998 and hosts about 35 teachers each year from around the world. It’s like going to summer school at the Mother Nature College of Law. Sara will be one of only five American high school teachers participating thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation. This is her sixth year at Central Academy where she teaches AP and IB Physics and Honors Accelerated Physics.
“I look forward to sharing this experience not only with my students but also with colleagues,” Sara said, when she learned of her selection. “It will be extremely helpful as I continue to develop my presentation of Particle Physics concepts. Any time that I’m able to make this content more approachable and real for my students, I strive to do so. In addition, I hope to add new perspective to our discussions of the truly international and collaborative effort that is contemporary scientific research.”
Last summer at Fermilab Sara documented her work via an online blog, something she said was well-received and that she plans to do again from CERN. Students enrolled in her classes for next year would do well to stay tuned. After she gets back from her summer in the scientific fast lane it will be time to start bringing them up to speed.
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