Leonard E Parker

Center for Gravitation, Cosmology & Astrophysics

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Leonard E Parker Center for Gravitation, Cosmology and Astrophysics

CGCA Members Get Involved in Bringing Young Minds to Science

Posted by Madeline Wade on May 31, 2014

Laura Nuttall (postdoc), Sarah Caudill (postdoc), Alex Urban (graduate student), and Luis Anchordoqui (faculty) of the CGCA participated in a Girls in Engineering, Mathematics, and Sciences (GEMS) day at UW-Waukesha at the beginning of this month. They hosted a one-hour interactive session titled “Astro Safari.” This session had been previously hosted by Sarah Caudill (postdoc), Sydney Chamberlin (graduate student), Megan DeCesar (postdoc) and Laleh Sadeghian (postdoc) at a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) day at UW-Waukesha with great success.

The session involved three workstations. The first workstation focused on the solar system and exoplanets. Participants watched demonstrations on how exoplanets are being discovered and heard about the prospect of life elsewhere in the universe. The second workstation was on black holes and neutron stars and included a spacetime mat to demonstrate how masses curve spacetime. Participants were also able to make their own pulsars to bring home out of clay and LED lights. The final workstation explored cosmology, from the Big Bang to the expanding universe and the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB)...

The targeted audience at the GEMS day on May 3 was young girls between the ages of 10-14 years. The goal of such a day is to encourage young girls to become interested in and get involved in the STEM fields. The STEM fields are still largely dominated by males, and programs such as UW-Waukesha’s GEMS day are actively working to counter the male bias in the STEM fields. The CGCA’s participation in such an important effort went off without a hitch! Laura and Alex reflected on how much the girls loved the session. In fact, the group was told the “Astro Safari” was one of the favorite sessions of the day. “We had as much fun as the kids,” said Laura. “I love doing this stuff. We owe it to the public and ourselves,” said Alex. Alex also expressed how glad he was that both men and women were involved in running the GEMS day. This is representative of the cooperative effort of all in the field to bring more women into the sciences.

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