African-American, Hispanic students to learn science hands-on at Argonne National Laboratory

January 24, 2008

ARGONNE, Ill. (Jan. 24, 2008) — The discoveries of tomorrow will be made by the students of today, but they first must be exposed to the world of science and technology.

U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and its African American Black Club (AABC) will host the third annual Science Education and Cultural Arts Day on Feb. 5 in commemoration of Black History Month.

“We must expose students to the beauty of science,” AABC advisor Linda Phaire-Washington said. “Scientific discovery is exciting!”

Students from Rich Township District 227 High School, Marine Military Academy of Chicago and Paul Revere Elementary School will embark on a journey of discovery by not only meeting with some of Argonne's scientists, but also receiving hands-on experiences in spectroscopy, microscopy and solids, liquids and gases.

Scientists will also demonstrate and discuss principles such as superconductivity, biosciences and research at the laboratory's Advanced Photon Source.

Many of the students participating in the event are African-American and Hispanic, ethnic groups historically under represented in science and technology. If the country is to stay competitive globally, Phaire-Washington said, we must nurture the next generation of scientists. We must create a love for science in students at an early age and show them places like Argonne exist and are viable career destinations.

“Many of them have never seen a national laboratory,” Phaire-Washington said.

Phaire-Washington said the students are more excited every year and the program has grown from 30-40 students to more than 250 students projected this year.

The students will also experience the science of dance during a performance of “A Celebration in Dance” by the Northwest Indiana Dance Alliance. The Alliance will feature the voice, music and message of African American singer and civil rights leader Nina Simone.

The afternoon will conclude with a panel discussion about the scientific contributions by African Americans and career options in science and technology.

“ We hope to expose students to a diverse scientific and cultural experience," AABC president Carmen Berry-Hines said. "Students are the future of our professional community. It is important to get them involved and help them pursue careers in science, math, engineering, and technology.” 

The visit to Argonne will help students learn through exploration and hands-on involvement, Berry-Hines said. 

The event is sponsored by Argonne's AABC, Division of Educational Programs, and the Diversity Program Office and the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science in Chicago.