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Students Get a Taste of ALS User Experience Print

A group of seventh graders from Black Pine Circle (BPC) school in Berkeley recently had a rare opportunity to experience the ALS as “users” via a scientific research proposal project and field trip. The students were led by science and technology teacher Christine Mytko, who spent the past summer at the ALS through the Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME) program. Mytko’s time at the ALS was focused on 3D imaging and printing techniques.

An integral part of the ISME program is educators taking their experiences back to the classroom through new curriculum development. As such, Mytko put together a program that would engage her students in collaborative proposal process similar to a typical ALS user proposal. Students worked in groups to craft proposals for scanning items of interest at the tomography beamline, a selection of which were chosen through a peer-review process and then scanned at Beamline 8.3.2. ALS beamline scientist Dula Parkinson worked with Mytko to develop the program and gave feedback on the kids’ proposal, which Mytko says was thrilling for her students.

The project culminated with a field trip to the ALS for all seventh graders, which included a visit to the ALS data visualization room, a diffraction demonstration, a beamline tour, and informative sessions about x-rays and tomography presented by ALS scientists. Students also got the chance to scan their winning proposals—which included the bone structure of a bird beak, a pop rock, duct tape, an eggshell, a butterfly wing, and agar—at Beamline 8.3.2 with Parkinson’s help. The data will go back to the classroom for the students to study and potentially use with their 3D printer.

“This is the first time we’ve done a trip like this at BPC, and actually in my whole teaching career,” says Mytko. “My experience here at the ALS has really transformed what I teach in 7th grade.”

See more photos from the students' trip to the ALS here.

Watch an ALS video about the project here.

Read teacher Christine Mytko's blog about her students' science and technology adventures.