National Nuclear Security Administration

National Lab-sponsored education free-for-all

November 16, 2018

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NNSA’s National Laboratories contribute in big and important ways – enhancing nuclear security across our Nation and around the world. They also make a difference on a smaller scale that may be just as vital for a safe and prosperous future. They inspire children to love science. 

American Education Week spotlights the importance of providing every child with a quality public education and celebrates the hard-working men and women who have dedicated their careers to enriching students’ lives. When they’re not busy innovating at the leading edge of scientific discovery, many NNSA researchers help foster the next generation of thinkers at free science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning events.

The Discovery Center in Livermore offers a number of interactive learning displays aimed at fostering curiosity and a better understanding of core scientific principles.
The Discovery Center in Livermore offers a number of interactive learning displays aimed at fostering curiosity and a better understanding of core scientific principles.

More than 8,000 students visit Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory each year to experience Fun with Science, an interactive introduction to science and engineering. Tailored to fourth- and fifth- graders, the program provides hands-on demonstrations and experiments that explore basic science concepts. 

Another popular program is the Science on Saturday lecture series. It is open to all ages, though it is best suited for middle and high school students. Laboratory scientists and local high school teachers present innovative projects centered on a theme at local theaters near Livermore, California. Videos of the lectures are also published on the Lab’s YouTube channel and broadcast on the University of California’s television station.

Local students participate in STEM activities during the Dream Catchers Science Program.
Local students participate in STEM activities during the Sandia Labs Dream Catchers Science Program.

At Sandia National Laboratories, many of their educational enrichment programs were started by employees with a passion for STEM. Over 30 years ago, a group of African-American employees started HMTech (Hands On, Minds On Technology) as an after-school program to inspire African-American students to pursue STEM careers. HMTech has grown into an incredibly robust summer program open to all students in grades 6-12.

Sandia’s Hispanic outreach committee hosts Manos, a year-round hands-on science and engineering program for Hispanic middle school students. The American Indian committee sponsors the annual Dream Catchers Science Program to promote involvement in STEM careers. Both programs have been sustained by dedicated employees for more than 25 years.

Los Alamos Lab researcher works with an elementary school student during an Hour of Code session.
Los Alamos Lab researcher works with an elementary school student during an Hour of Code session.

Los Alamos National Laboratory hosts a Frontiers in Science lecture series featuring its distinguished fellows discussing their research areas. Fellows are technical staff members appointed annually by the Laboratory Director in recognition of their outstanding contributions to scientific research. The talks are open to all ages but are best enjoyed by science fans who are at least middle school age.

Los Alamos is also an enthusiastic supporter of the global computing science education initiative Hour of Code. Last year, students in more than 100 classes in schools across northern New Mexico discovered the power of programming. Dozens of lab volunteers helped children from kindergarten to high school work their way through age-appropriate coding challenges.

These free science education programs at our National Labs are just a small sample of the STEM enrichment supported by NNSA. From encouraging childhood curiosity through to funding post-doctoral research projects, NNSA is guiding the next generation of thinkers. Our Nation will be better informed and NNSA’s workforce will be better equipped to carry out its missions as more people choose creativity and intellectual vigor.