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NE Grads Joanna Szornel and Kathy Shield Lead Demos During the 8th Annual Nuclear Science Day for Scouts

Thursday, May 17th 2018

Joanna Szornel (left) and Kathy Shield (right) leading demonstrations for the scouts.

OMay 5, the Lab welcomed more than 200 Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts from all over the Bay Area for its eighth annual Nuclear Science Day for Scouts.

The educational event, which gives Boy Scouts in the eighth through 12th grades an opportunity to earn a merit badge in nuclear science, and Girl Scouts in the same age group a “Get to Know Nuclear” patch, has been coordinated by Alan Poon every year since it first started in March 2011. “We want to plant the seed in these kids’ minds that they could work here one day, too,” said Poon.

As deputy director of the Nuclear Science Division, and group leader of the Berkeley Low-Background Facility and Neutr

ino Astrophysics Group, Poon is busy enough. But every year, in the months leading up to the event, he devotes his evenings to a long list of To Dos, such as promoting the event to Bay Area troop leaders, coordinating volunteers to staff the event, and making sure event team leaders — all volunteers from the Lab— have everything they need to run their activity stations, “plus enough chaperones to make sure kids don’t go crazy chasing turkeys,” he added.

To keep the event running every year, Poon relies on about 50 generous volunteers — mostly Lab staff from the Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics Division, the Advanced Light Source, the Nuclear Science Division, and Computing Sciences, among others — to give scouts a guided tour of the ALS and demonstrate how beamlines work. Volunteers also show the scouts how to detect cosmic rays with a portable cosmic-ray detector, how radiation detectors work, and how to build an atomic model with marshmallows.

And others, like ATAP’s Ina Reichel, make sure the scouts can see real-life examples of women working in STEM fields at the Lab: “I work with Ina to make sure that Girl Scouts can see female beamline operators working at the ALS during the tour,” said Poon. “It’s important to show girls that the Lab has women working at the ALS so they don’t feel marginalized in the sciences.”

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