Fermilab Education Home sciencelines Spring 2000

Docents and Summer Instructors - Can't Live Without You

Fermilab has a dedicated corps of docents and instructors who share their enthusiasm about science and mathematics with students all year long. These individuals are most often the personal face of Fermilab for these students. They do an outstanding job of representing the Lab to our younger audience. Throughout the school year our docents are on call to guide groups of students as they conduct research in the prairie or learn about the physics research conducted at Fermilab. "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night . . . " stay these hardy individuals from their appointed rounds through the prairie.

Younger students may begin an imaginary trip in a Conestoga Wagon across the prairie to a new home in the Dakotas. When they walk through grasses grown taller than they are, they begin to understand this immense undertaking for families that loaded all their possessions into these small wagons. Students use magnifying glasses to study plants and insects up close and personal and to distinguish insects from fall seeds. They write about how they feel and what they see while sitting quietly in the prairie. It is amazing to see how much they have learned about individual prairie grasses and forbs.

Docents help older students collect data about the prairie ecosystem. Since nets are popular, students love to collect and identify water creatures and sweep the fields for insects. They keep tabs on the development of the student prairie plot by conducting quadrat and abiotic studies. Groups of students select a section of the prairie, drop a square meter marker over the tall plants and carefully identify and count all the plants. Records of their work may be found online at www-ed.fnal.gov/data/life_sci/data/intro.shtml. Docents also assist students in the lab. Imagine 40 excited 7th graders creating their own pond and watching to see if it lives or dies, using microscopes to explore all sorts of little things, examining seeds, twigs, skulls and live insects.

Docents have an easier time with the weather when it comes to physics tours. Students visit the 15th floor, the Linac and Main Control Room and meet with a scientist. Some high school students take an "Out and About Tour" visiting work places such as the magnet facility, manufacturing labs where lab employees are making the core of detectors, the Feynman Computer Center, or one of the detectors-KTev, CDF and D0.

Many of these talented docents share their interest throughout the summer as well, teaching Science Adventure classes. Without our experienced classroom teachers and experts, there would be no Science Adventures. These informal classes in science and mathematics are designed for students and families. The program format emphasizes hands-on learning and process skills using entertaining and thought-provoking activities such as: rockets, parachutes, the wind, Leonardo Da Vinci's art, Egyptian building, ponds, insects, bike camps, crime busters, sport science, astronomy; archeology, heat energy, origami, star art, nature photography. There is something for every interest because we have so many wonderful instructors. We couldn't do it without them and we thank each and everyone!

Our crew of docents include: Linda Allewalt, Lynda Ballingall, Karen Bass, Sue Dumford, Vida Goldstein, Ted Hoesel, Dee Huie, Jackie Krock, Mary Jo Murphy, Chris Newlund, Jane Pelletier, David Seymour, Sue Sheehan, Yvonne Twomey, Bill Welch, Larry Welsh.

Our summer instructors include:
Jim Cox, Robin Dombeck, Pat Franzen, Bob Grimm, Tamra Hack, Lyn Hamper, Bradford Hansen-Smith, Randy Jones, Steve and Marge Keefe, Lea Kuhn, Linda Richards, Barbara Romack and Patricia Witte.