outreach

In the field of astronomy we have an opportunity to make science popular again. Too many people give up on science for fear that it is too hard or there is too much math, but math & physics are more accessible than people suspect. Being able to derive everything I need to know from a few basic principles certainly makes a whole lot more sense to me than trying to figure out what James Joyce is trying to convey in Finnegans Wake. (For more eloquent words on this topic than mine, check out Natalie Angier's The Canon.) Many astronomy basics are easily observed (eclipses, moon phases, constellations, meteor showers, the seasons), so hopefully using these common yet awesome events combined with stunning pictures like those from the Hubble Space Telescope, we can lure some of those science-phobes back.

Details on a few of my efforts are below.

Curious? Ask an Astronomer.

The graduate students at Cornell created a website called Curious? Ask an Astronomer where anyone can write in questions they have about astronomy-related topics. We get roughly 80 questions per week sent by everyone from inquisitive five year olds to retired engineers. We even got a question from one of the writers for 24 during the 2008 writer's strike! Answers to the most popular questions are posted on the site. Here is a list of my postings.

Learning Works!

With its alternative classroom model, Learning Works! (founded by Mikala Rahn) takes in high school students who have had trouble staying enrolled in the public school system and provides them with the more personalized opportunities they need to graduate. These students are smart, independent, and have taught me far more than I could ever teach them.

Past Activities

This IS Rocket Science! I ran a workshop for students to learn the basics of rocketry, to design & build their own rockets, and then to launch them. Every year the workshop is a part of Expanding Your Horizons, a conference devoted to encouraging an interest in science among middle school girls, as well as through 4H's Focus for Teens, a career exploration program for high school students.

Cornell Women's Resource Center I was on the board of directors for the Cornell Women's Resource Center and ran a women's empowerment workshop for undergraduates, graduates, and staff. (Until recently, I was also the CWRC webmistress: check it out!) In 2007 I received the Alice Cook Award for my commitment to improving the climate for women at Cornell.