I have been participating in outreach events since my sophomore year in Davidson College to demonstrate the value and interest of physics to children and their families. As a graduate student, I participated in many elementary and middle school visits with the department's lab administrator, Derek Leadbetter, to show physics demonstrations to children and their families; I have also been a science fair judge at the NC Central Regional 3A Science and Engineering Fair. Although I enjoy going to local science fairs, stargazing has been my favorite form of outreach.
Creekside Elementary School, 2017: Young students (and a parent) observe that a beaker is "invisible" in an index-matched fluid.
Voyager Academy, 2017: A student (to left of field of view) learns about the concept of center of mass.
While I was a student at Duke, I volunteered with coordinators Dr. Ronen Plesser and Dr. Yuriy Bomze at Friday night open houses about 6-7 times per semester from my second semester as a graduate student, Spring 2017, up until the pandemic stopped public events. Each open house, we set up and aligned a few 10" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, showed visitors from the Triangle (Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh) everything from stars to planets to deep-sky objects, and discussed interesting physics or astronomy facts with visitors. In Spring 2017, I also collaborated with Yuriy Bomze to organize an NC Science Festival Star Party on April 22. Dr. Bomze and I received funding for materials to host a Star Party in Spring 2020, but this was sadly cancelled due to the pandemic. In the last two academic years, I began training fellow students to operate telescopes.
In addition to regular open houses, we often had extra stargazing nights for local classes or schools and science fair events on Duke's campus. We sometimes held solar viewings during the day and small events for eclipse viewings (both lunar and solar). On August 21, 2017, we took telescopes with us to Bryson City, NC, within the band of totality of the solar eclipse. There, Dr. Yuriy Bomze and I captured video of the eclipse process, shown at the top. During totality, I captured over 60 images of the eclipse over several of orders of magnitude in exposure time; Dr. Bomze and I post-processed the data to produce the final image in the banner of this page.
I talk with a visiting family about Saturn's rings and moons as they look through the telescope at Duke's Science Under the Stars event; October, 2019.
I remind two graduate student volunteers about telescope operation before an open house begins; Fall 2019.