Lederman Science Center goes virtual

When I turned off the Lederman Science Center exhibits about four months ago, I was watching the last clouds disappearing in the cloud chamber and thinking that we will be back soon. However, it has been a long journey for the LSC team since then, and it’s not over yet: Although science enthusiasts can’t visit the LSC exhibits in person, they can still visit virtually!

During the last four months, we have developed more than 20 virtual exhibits that communicate Fermilab science, from neutrinos to quantum computing. We find it especially rewarding because we share these virtual exhibits with our followers on social media, and we see immediate responses. Thousands of people all around the world can view the virtual LSC exhibits now.

Over the course of developing these virtual exhibits, the idea arose for a new one: a neutrino telling its own story. We have now created 10 short video episodes of “60 Seconds in Neutrino-Land,” which tell the story of neutrino science from the moment Wolfgang Pauli first postulated the neutrino’s existence to the construction and development of the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, hosted by Fermilab. At the conclusion of the neutrino’s 10-part tale, the neutrino introduces viewers to its fundamental-particle friends. This introduction segues into a second series of short videos, “Time Travel with a Neutrino.” Each episode gives visitors a chance to learn more about Fermilab’s amazing science.

We have also developed at-home activities for younger visitors based on actual LSC exhibits. With just a few materials that can be found in any household, they build a Standard Model chart or make a neutrino beam.

For those who want to challenge themselves, we’ve developed an animated series of questions, “Can You Guess?” and PhysQuiz, which comes with a tutorial. Both are available on the LSC webpage.

These materials also led to the creation of our new program, Fermilab Trivia, with contestants and audience participating from around the globe! The next trivia contest is on Saturday, Aug. 15, at 1 p.m. The contestant list is already full, but you can sign up as an audience member. During the contest we share short videos about Fermilab science, and at the end of the game, there is a question for the audience based on the information provided in these videos. The winners (from both the contestant pool and the audience) receive certificates of achievement, as well as Fermilab T-shirts for themselves and their children.

One big advantage of the virtual exhibits is the fact that they don’t break — well, at least not as frequently as the real ones.

Please visit the virtual LSC.

Ketevan Akhobadze is the Fermilab education facilities coordinator.