BROAD-BASED COMMUNITY INITIATIVES
The Liquid Crystal Wall at the Akron Art Museum's hands-on EXPLORE & DISCOVER XI exhibition, created with the help of the Center for Advanced Liquid Crystalline Optical Materials. As children touched the surface the wall changed colors before their eyes. During the months of the hands-on exhibition, the attendance at the museum was a record 29,953.
Collaborations with Museums and PlanetariumsScience museums and planetariums provide STCs with tremendous opportunities for creating science literacy and awareness among the general public. They also are less formal settings where people are comfortable in learning about science and have been a popular way for the STCs to reach new audiences. Some examples include:
Disseminating Information to the PublicSTC staff devote time and resources to making the public aware of STC efforts in research and education. This is achieved through newsletters, correspondence, online information, video presentations, visits, invited talks, public awareness programs, and other means. This audience includes representatives from businesses, professional organizations, and government who must deal with educational issues on an everyday basis.
TalksTalks hosted by the STCs are another effective way of generating public interest in STC research and in science overall. Frequently, people become interested in a subject after initially hearing a presentation by a famous scientist on a topic of current interest. The Center for Particle Astrophysics (CfPA) sponsored two lectures that drew 2,000 attendees each-one of these lectures was given by eminent physicist Stephen Hawking. The CfPA Speaker's Bureau, begun in 1991, sends center scientists to talk at schools, public forums, science organizations, science fairs, and to industry. More than 50 such talks were given in the 1992-93 school year, 12 of which were to K-12 students. The center is also a resource for the media, with center research being featured in the PBS series "The Astronomers" and in numerous national and international publications.
The Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica sends center faculty and graduate students to various places to give talks. Eleven center personnel have given more than 65 talks since 1989. The biggest of these lectures have taken place at the Adler Planetarium, the Hayden Planetarium, and the National Air and Space Museum.
PublicationsAll of the STCs have newsletters or regular publications to keep people informed of STC activities in research, education, and other areas. These newsletters are distributed to universities, secondary schools, elementary schools, libraries, corporations, and government agencies and laboratories throughout the United States and abroad. The Center for Ultrafast Optical Science publishes a newsletter documenting education activities at all the STCs. This newsletter provides a comprehensive look at how the STCs bring their educational goals to life. For the first two years of its existence, the newsletter was published by the Center for Particle Astrophysics.
Online InformationWith educators increasingly having access to the Internet, electronic bulletin boards have become another effective means of distributing STC information. Information systems are available at the Center for Research on Parallel Computation, the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Computer Science and the Center for Biological Timing. Internet users can look up information on activities within these centers and send in comments or questions through electronic mail. In addition, The Geometry Center maintains the "Geometry Forum," an electronic bulletin board on the Internet devoted to issues in all forms and levels of geometry. Other STCs have online information for technical reports, calendars of events, and other items.
Video PresentationsVideo provides an expressive medium for disseminating information about STC activities and research findings to the public. Video presentations, for instance, are useful to educators at all levels for supplementing multimedia presentations and standard lectures. The Center for Biological Timing has nearly 50 tapes available for public use. These tapes document the center's lectures and seminars, including a complete set of lectures on its Summer Biological Timing course. Another STC has helped to capture the visual wonder of science on video with perhaps the ultimate in slow-motion photography. The Center for Ultrafast Optical Science has produced a 13-minute video called "Light in Flight," which actually shows the motion of photons travelling at the speed of light across and through various objects. Such ultraslow-motion imagery illustrates the potential of short-pulse lasers for medical diagnostic imaging and for probing ultrafast phenomena such as chemical reactions.
In another use of visual technology, videoconferencing has allowed some of the STCs to expand beyond their geographical limits in several educational initiatives. For example, the Center for Computer Graphics and Scientific Visualization has been using a video telecommunications (VTC) network to support participation in educational workshops and to teach a graduate-level advanced graphics seminar simultaneously at all its five sites (Cornell University, Brown University, the University of North Carolina, Caltech, and the University of Utah).
Public Awareness ProgramsThe STCs raise public awareness in many areas of science. For instance, the Southern California Earthquake Center has a set of initiatives that keep the southern California community updated with information on earthquakes. Center scientists have worked with the City and County of Los Angeles, the State of California, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop methods for using earthquake hazard data in public safety programs. The center also distributes earthquake bulletins to the public, works with PBS on documentaries containing earthquake-related material, and has prepared more than 50 one-minute educational radio spots for "LA Underground," a program on earthquake-based issues for KFWB-AM. The center was particularly active during the 6.6 Northridge earthquake crisis of January 17, 1994. The quake, declared to be one of the single largest natural disasters in U.S. history, prompted the educational staff to conduct special workshops for teachers and to provide scientific information to them as well as to the media and the public.The Southern California Earthquake Center helps keep the southern California community updated with information on earthquakes. Center scientists have helped to develop methods for using earthquake hazard data in public safety programs. The center also distributes bulletins to the public, works with PBS on documentaries containing earthquake-related material, and has prepared more than 50 one-minute educational radio spots for "LA Underground," a program on earthquake-based issues for KFWB-AM.
Other STCs raise public awareness by addressing cultural stereotypes in creative ways. The Geometry Center has developed the "Gallery of Mathematicians," which documents the lives of living mathematicians. The goal of the initiative is to make the public realize that there are people alive today doing important things in the field of mathematics. The "gallery" is distributed as a poster and a calendar.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Center for Engineering Plants for Resistance Against Pathogens has contributed to a 4-H program called "What's in Food." The program focuses on developing greater public awareness, literacy, and understanding about what technologies and scientific research are used for food safety and quality. The program features hands-on experiments and addresses scientific concepts and issues such as risk management and toxicity.
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