A summer with young nuclear astrophysicists

Students and staff at the 2019 PAN@MSU (our 26th year!)

Students and staff at the 2019 PAN@MSU (our 26th year!)

Summer is a busy time for JINA at MSU, where our volunteers ran two week-long programs and taught courses in four others!

The 26th Physics of Atomic Nuclei (PAN) program welcomed 17 science teachers in mid-July and 24 high school students the week after. All participants were instructed by JINA faculty and staff on current research, then performed their own experiments with the assistance of post-docs and graduate students. Over the 34+ contact hours, teachers gained the knowledge, tools, and confidence they needed to incorporate nuclear astrophysics into their curriculum, while students got a taste of research careers and explored whether the field is something they want to pursue. 

Nearly all of the attendees indicated that PAN increased their interest in physics (and specifically nuclear astrophysics) as a major/career. In the words of one student: "[PAN] made me excited for really good career choices that learning physics can open up for me. I did not have very much of a clue what I wanted to major in college but PAN has showed me these great opportunities."

JINA volunteers also taught courses about nuclear science other programs on the MSU campus: GUPPY (for gifted children grades 3-4), 4-H Exploration Days (for students aged 11-19), MST (for gifted students in middle school), and Grandparents University (for MSU alumni and grandchildren). All groups learned nuclear concepts with marble nuclei and toured the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. Overall, these programs introduced JINA topics to nearly 100 visitors!

Physics of Atomic Nuclei (PAN) homepage