David Bennum, Recruiting Physics Majors from Grades 2-8, University of Navada, Reno
There is little development of Physics curriculum in the lower grade levels and thus the population that could be interested in Physics is scared away. Dr. Bennum has created a “Physics on the Road” program that brings science into local schools to introduce young students to Physics. Dr. Bennum shared several pictures of his program over the years of students at assemblies and workshop with middle school and elementary school students. The program has reached up to 2,000 students in the K-8 programs each year. He continues to develop new activities and demonstrations for the program, including plans for building a Howler Trombone based on a Howler pipe design (link). Several buses have been donated over the years to bring students and equipment to the program. In recent years the project has also added some astronomy concepts and using telescopes. The hope is to expand the program to include college students from University of Nevada, Reno to accompanying the Dr. Bennum to the local schools. There are plans to have a large public viewing for the upcoming solar eclipse at the MacClean Observatory at Redfield Campus.
The Physics department at the University of Nevada, Reno is also developing an Astronomy Minor and Astrophysics Major. The hope is to create an option for students who are interested in Astronomy or are in a major that requires scientific literacy to take some classes. This has developed an off shoot program, ”Taking the Stars on the Road” to increase the local interest in Astronomy. The University has struggled with decreasing numbers in Physics and have adjusted the requirements for majors in order to decrease the “scare factor” and make it much more accessible.