Education and Outreach History

Through its membership, the Division of Plasma Physics has had a successful program in support of science education and public outreach since 1988. Much of the DPP effort owes its success to the early, and continuing work of individual DPP members and their respective research institutions.

The first plasma/fusion education workshop (now referred to as Science Teachers Day) was held at the 1988 annual meeting of the APS-DPP in association with the APS Education and Outreach Program Office. Due to its success and to the support from DPP membership, Teachers Day became an annual event in conjunction with the DPP annual meeting.

The present Science Teachers Day has been expanded to provide information for both middle and high school science teachers on plasma science and its applications by way of workshops and poster presentations. DPP research scientists inform teachers of the challenges of current plasma research in the scientific laboratory. These "real-life" topics seldom found in conventional classroom discussions or in school textbooks, provide tools to help teachers inspire students to understand the research challenges of plasma science and related applications. Teachers who are registered for the workshops are also provided free entrance at the concurrent week-long DPP annual meeting and technical poster session on Education and Outreach and any other presentations, special programs, and events.

The next step up in education and outreach began at the 1994 DPP annual meeting where DPP launched its first community Open House/Plasma Sciences Expo in order to provide a venue for public outreach as part of its annual meeting. Sherrie Preische and Robert Heeter (both plasma physics graduate students at the time) with support from the DPP chair organized a plasma exhibit and lectures at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Science Museum for the general public. The Plasma Sciences Expo is presently a two-day event for the general public, including teachers and students, held annually at a museum, university, or convention center in the host city of the DPP meeting. Exhibits from national laboratories, universities, and industry are on display in order to share the excitement of plasma research and plasma applications.

Besides coordinating Plasma Sciences Expo with Science Teachers Day at the DPP annual meeting, additional education/outreach activities were also made a permanent feature of the DPP meeting in 1994 when this topic was added to the meeting technical subject categories. Each year since, there have been invited symposia, career outreach panel discussion, and poster sessions on education and outreach topics. The driving element of the success of education/outreach activities of the DPP is the member scientists who are committed to communicating to a non-technical audience. For more information about the DPP Education and Outreach activities, please contact Arturo Dominguez, chair of the DPP Education and Outreach committee.