Outreach

For three weeks in each of the summers 2013-16, the Ediger group and others supported by the National Science Foundation led a class for 15-20 high school juniors entitled: Smaller than the eye can see - How your computer is made. We were assisted by members of UW-Madison's Materials Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) and graduate students in the Department of Chemistry at UW-Madison. These sessions, which were part of UW-Madison's PEOPLE program, ran for 90-120 minutes each day.

Each year, the PEOPLE program engages about 180 new high school freshmen; most of these students are from under-represented groups. These students interact with UW-Madison throughout high school and spend a portion of each summer on campus. The PEOPLE program has an excellent track record; more than 75% of the students who begin the program successfully complete it, with 94% of these students going on the college. About half of the graduates of the PEOPLE program enroll at UW-Madison and these students are retained at high rates.

All the individuals involved in presenting the summer class are supported in their research projects by the National Science Foundation. We thank NSF for support. We estimate the effort to produce our 2016 course at 300 person-hours for personnel supported by NSF. Smaller than the eye can see – How your computer is made is an evolving program, with each group of participants modifying and refining the content. We are grateful to Keith Zeise and Mike Lawton, science teachers from Milwaukee’s Rufus King High School, for helping us to improve our program by clarifying the objectives for each classroom session.

We have worked with Keith Zeise and Mike Lawton to develop five modules that are suitable for Wisconsin Senior High School Classrooms.  The five modules are described here. Some of these modules were developed on the basis of activities from our "Smaller than the eye can see" curriculum.   Other modules were developed to address concepts that are difficult for high school students to understand, e.g., the difference between intramolecular forces and intermolecular forces. Four of the modules were presented in workshops to teachers at the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers in April 2010 and April 2012.   In 2012, two modules were presented to science teachers at Milwaukee's Rufus King High School.  One of the modules was presented in Spring 2013 to a workshop for the science teachers of the Milwaukee Public Schools.