Springing into fall at Saturday Morning Physics

The last session of Saturday Morning Physics (SMP) for the academic year 2016-17 finished successfully on May 13 with a lecture on “Physics and Society” by Fermilab scientist Pushpa Bhat.

Fermilab’s SMP program aims to increase the enthusiasm for science in high school students. It attracts hundreds of students every year from the area. The program is given in three sessions per academic year (fall, winter and spring), and each session consists of nine lectures and tour visits. Students who attend seven of the nine lectures receive SMP certificates, and students who attend all lectures additionally receive a small prize.

On spring session graduation day, held on May 13, SMP students had the opportunity to shake hands, get photos and receive certificates from Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer. A total of 38 spring-session students received certificates. For the full 2016-2017 academic year, a total of 240 students registered for the program, and 141 students graduated with certificates.

As part of the graduation day, Fermilab Lederman fellows Javier Duarte and Ting Li also received special recognition from Lockyer for their hands-on help in running the SMP program smoothly this year in their role as on-site coordinators.

Looking into the future, we, the SMP program directors, in collaboration with Program Manager Sandra Charles and Senior Advisor Bob Bernstein, will focus on improving the diversity of SMP students by making a series of recruiting visits to high schools located in underserved communities around Fermilab.

Additionally, for the fall 2017 session, a 10th lecture will be added to the program and will be offered in Spanish language. Interactive teaching technologies such as “clickers” and more hands-on demonstrations will also be introduced in the coming sessions to further improve the interactiveness of the SMP lecture sessions.

The SMP 2017-2018 academic year will start on Sept. 30. Registration for the program will open Aug. 7.

Sowjanya Gollapinni of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Elliott McCrory of Fermilab are the Saturday Morning Physics program directors.