CER teaches middle school girls concepts of electricity at Expanding Your Horizons workshop

March 2014


Expanding Your Horizons 2014On Saturday, March 1, 2014, five scientists from the Center for Energy Research, together with scientists from the DIII-D National Fusion Facility and Pattern Energy, ran three workshops for middle school (7th and 8th grade) girls as part of the 2014 San Diego Expanding Your Horizons workshop. Expanding Your Horizons is a national programthat seeks to encourage middle and high school girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This was the tenth year that Rick Moyer, a CER research scientist, has organized this STEM outreach activity as part of the San Diego EYH workshops.

The CER workshops, entitled "Electrify Your World," introduced the girls to the concepts of electric current and circuits, electricity use (motors) and electricity generation (dynamos) using hands-on activities. Each of the girls applied these concepts to building her own d.c. homopolar motor (see video below), complete with rotating lights, and to determining how the motor works in terms of electrical currents and the Lorenz force on an electric current moving across a magnetic field. In each session, two college students who served as mentors for the girls, and 3 additional college student EYH volunteers, joined us to build their own motors to take home. Together, this activity reached 15 college students and 43 middle school girls.

Expanding Your Horizons 2014At the end of each session, several of the women scientists spoke to the girls about how they became interested in a career in STEM. As in previous years, the girls and their mentors were excited about the activities, and the chance to build their own electric motor to take home. The girls also received a small package of material on STEM careers, including: "Physics in Your Future," a booklet on women physicists produced by the American Physical Society, and "7 Myths about Taking High School Physics" and "The Top 10 Reasons to Take High School Physics," a brochure and a poster produced by the American Institute of Physics.

Expanding Your Horizons 2014
This year's "Electrifying Your World" team, pictured above, included: 
back row, left to right: Francesca Turco (Columbia University and DIII-D Program), Rick Moyer (UCSD CER and DIII-D Program), Cami Collins (UC Irvine and DIII-D Program), Orso Meneghini (Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and DIII-D Program), Joan Inlow (Pattern Energy), Saikat Chakraborty Thakur (UCSD CER), Dmitri Orlov (UCSD CER and DIII-D Program)
front row, left to right: Sita Sundar (UCSD CER and Theory Program), Sasha Doppelt (UCSD CER events and outreach coordinator), Luz Meneghini (UC Irvine)