Presenting on Our Outreach Program

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Presenting on Our Outreach Program


Sam Williams and Kaleb Martin, SPS Members, Radford University

SPS members (L to R) Sam Williams, Anith Muthalaly, Caitlyn Fischer, and Krislyn Sourivong teach students how to construct radios over Zoom. Last April we gave a professional presentation about our SPS chapter’s outreach events for local high school students. The goals of our outreach program were to increase interest in and motivate high school students to pursue STEM by teaching them to build AM radios. We hosted two events via Zoom, one in the fall of 2020 and one in the spring of 2021. Each student received an AM radio kit purchased with funding from an SPS Marsh W. White Award. We learned a lot from these outreach experiences and even more from giving a talk on them to physics educators.

After we completed our outreach events, our SPS advisor, Dr. Rhett Herman, suggested that we present our work at an upcoming meeting of the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (CS-AAPT). The meeting was being hosted by our school, Radford University, in April of 2021.

Even though the meeting was virtual, giving a talk was daunting. Several dozen physics teachers from across Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and the DC area—plus a few from outside the region—were also presenting. They gave talks on techniques, methodology, and programs to teach physics. Here we were, a group of college students, with all of these professional educators listening intently to what we had to say about outreach. It was the first time many of our members had presented their work in a professional setting.

First-year student Kaleb Martin summed up the experience this way: “When I started speaking I was pretty nervous, but as I kept talking I noticed the butterflies in my stomach left. It was nice to see that other people were actually interested in what we did as a group, and I can’t wait to do it again. Overall, I think it was a really cool experience to hear all of the professors [giving talks] and listen to what they did or wanted to improve on.”

Presenting was an insightful experience. After the presentation, several of the educators applauded us for orchestrating our program—they said it was refreshing to see youth teaching youth and breaking down complex subjects in a manner that younger students could digest. They also commented on how much of a feat it was for us to be so young and participating in a presentation of this scale.

Even though the scope of our outreach project wasn’t on the same scale as what other educators were presenting, they still respected our work. They were friendly and inviting and urged us to do similar programs in the future. We also shared ideas about branching out and conducting more outreach events over a wider range of topics; they didn’t hesitate to encourage us to continue sharing our love of science with younger students.

The thought of presenting our work to a group of professionals was intimidating at first, but the experience was well worth it. We would absolutely recommend that other undergraduate students participate in presentations like this. It was a pinnacle of accomplishment for our chapter.

Title slide from Radford University’s SPS chapter presentation. Images courtesy of Radford University’s SPS chapter.

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