Carolina outreach event empowers young scientists

College of Arts & Sciences

The UNC department of physics and astronomy hosted 4th-grade classes from three schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district for Science is Awesome Outreach Day on May 15. UNC sophomore physics and math major Schuyler Moss helps students during a hands-on exercise at Phillips Hall. (photo by Johnny Andrews)Nearly 300 elementary school students visited the University for a day of scientific exploration.
Jennifer Weinberg-Wolf was the only girl in her third grade rocket science club. More specifically, she was the only girl who had ever joined the third grade rocket science club.
As soon as she did, she made up her mind: she would become a scientist.
Now an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, she’s traded in her model rockets to teach advanced physics concepts to students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But Weinberg-Wolf also hopes to make science accessible to elementary school students, just as her third grade teacher did for her.
“He bent over backwards to make sure I felt included in the group,” she said. “All of a sudden, science felt like a possibility for me. If we can get other kids considering science as something that is possible for them, then the world is open to them.”
Participants capped off the day by enjoying a scoop of ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. (photo by Johnny Andrews)With Carolina’s physics and astronomy department, Weinberg-Wolf organized Science is Awesome, an event aimed at encouraging kids to consider STEM fields early on. Nearly 300 fourth grade students from local elementary schools visited campus on May 15 for a day of experiments, team challenges and gravity defying fun.
Carolina undergraduates, graduate students and faculty volunteers demonstrated the basics of physics and astronomy, looking at everything from hovercrafts to dominoes to alien life forms.
Faculty members also presented their latest cutting-edge research in a “reverse …

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