CER News:
Center for Energy Research participates in Expanding Your Horizons for the 5th straight year

17 March 2009

On Saturday, February 28, the Center for Energy Research conducted three sessions of hands-on science education activities for middle and high school girls as part of the 2009 Expanding Your Horizons event, hosted by the University of San Diego. Expanding Your Horizons is a national program that hosts dozens of weekend workshops across the country to encourage middle and high school girls to consider math and science careers (www.expandingyourhorizons.org).
The San Diego events are coordinated by the San Diego Science Alliance (www.sdsa.org/pub/eyh_docs/eyh/home.html), and for the past three years, have been hosted by the University of San Diego in the Shiley Center for Science and Technology on the USD campus www.sandiego.edu.

The CER presentations, entitled "The Hottest Stuff on Earth: Plasma Science and Fusion Energy", introduced 36 girls and 12 college student mentors to the physics of the fourth state of matter and fusion energy research. The students used Tesla coils, plasma balls, Jacob's ladders, and other plasma discharge devices to create plasmas, and studied their behavior in magnetic fields and their emission of light. The workshop also discussed many applications of plasmas, including fusion energy research at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility (http://fusion.gat.com/global/DIII-D).

The CER science education outreach program gratefully acknowledges the loan of equipment from the Educational Outreach program of the Fusion Energy Group at General Atomics, and from the Physics Department of the University of San Diego. The presentations were also a multi-institutional collaboration involving:

Drs. Moyer, White, and Pace are all currently pursuing fusion energy research at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, located on the General Atomics site in Sorrento Valley, San Diego.

In addition to the presentations on Saturday, Dr. Moyer provided materials that were extensively used by EYH Staff in an orientation for presenters. And this year, Dr. Larry Peranich, a former General Atomics scientist who participated in the CER exhibit last year, returned to this year's event with a workshop for parents entitled "FICO and Your Daughter's Financial Future."

The workshops were a success, with the students staying at one point more than ten minutes past the end of the session; "plasmas are cool" was a commonly heard comment from the students. At the close of each workshop, the students and mentors received a package of plasma science and fusion energy educatonal materials, posters, and CD-ROMs, generously provided by the Fusion Group at General Atomics. It is hoped that this event will encourage many of these girls to take a closer look at a career in science or math.

For more information on CER educations outreach activities, visit our outreach web pages.