CalTeach undergraduates Martin Lopez and Snow Lu (pictured below) are doing their best to awaken a love for physics among area elementary students. During fall and winter quarters, they travel to area schools and host a UCI Physics Assembly, where they engage students in demonstrations and activities designed to promote STEM education.
During a recent assembly in Tustin, Snow and Martin used various equipment, ranging from advanced mechanisms to simple day-to-day tools, to help the students learn the fundamentals of physics - in this case, sound waves.
To start the assembly, Snow and Martin led a series of short games to introduce vocabulary words that would allow the students to increase their science vocabulary and expand their understanding of physics concepts.
Following this introduction, Snow and Martin used their equipment – e.g., springs, dowel chain, musical instruments, oscilloscopes, air track and cart - to reinforce how sound waves work. Then, students were given opportunities to experiment with some of the equipment on their own while role-playing a scientist at work learning about sound waves.
Area teachers are delighted with the UCI presentations. Following the Loma Vista Elementary [Tustin USD] assembly, fourth grade teacher Liz Marengo communicated,
Snow and Martin are Juniors, majoring in Physics. As students in the undergraduate teaching program CalTeach Science & Math, they will graduate with their STEM degree plus a California Teacher Credential in four years. Snow and Martin credit inspirational high school teachers for their interest in science, Mr. Thinh Luong from Mark Keppel High School for Snow, and Mr. Michael Towne from Citrus Hill for Martin. Snow comments,
Snow and Martin have volunteered to lead the UCI Physics Assemblies partly as a community service activity, however, as they explain,
The UCI Physics Assemblies delivered at area schools were the inspiration of Physics Professor William Heidbrink. He and John Rosendahl started elementary physics assemblies at the school where Professor Heidbrink's children attended. Then, to excite children about science and math, they expanded the program to include schools in Santa Ana. In the early days, the assemblies were funded by an NSF grant housed in the Center for Educational Partnerships (CFEP) called FOCUS! More recently, Professor Heidbrink and Professor Phillip Collins approached CalTeach with the idea that presenting at the physics assemblies would be an authentic teaching experience for CalTeach undergraduates. During fall and winter quarters, CalTeach student volunteers present these assemblies to various elementary schools in area districts, including Santa Ana, Anaheim, Tustin, and Newport Mesa.
For additional information about UCI Physics Assemblies, please visit: http://www.physics.uci.edu/~outreach/
The undergraduate teaching program UCI CalTeach has been ranked the #1 teacher education program in the Western U.S. and recently lauded by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.