According to our students, a major (possibly, “the major”) goal of undergraduate studies is to discover one will be doing for ‘the rest of my life’. This especially true in the sciences, where a high value is placed on finding the right answer within a problem-solving context, and then it is assumed that this principle is also true in our daily life of choices. Many to most undergraduate science majors seem to believe that coursework is a fortune cookie, and if cracked with enough force it will reveal the secret of a future career.
Over the past three years, the science outreach by the Physics Group to the surrounding K-12 students in the Roanoke Valley has taken on a life of its own. By being present to elementary school children and the wonder of science, our physics majors and minors are investing in the future of science in the lives of these impressionable children. “It is just so much fun to see the kids’ faces light up when they see the demonstrations and activities,” says junior physics major Hanna Lyle, who is a primary organizer of many science outreach events. One of the school organizers also reminded Hanna recently, “None of this success would have been possible without you all generously sharing your time and knowledge.”
In Prof. Fleenor’s opinion, the activity of being present to the events occurring during one’s undergraduate career might actually help determine what lies in the future. For him and all the physics professors, it has been refreshing to see our physics majors actually enjoy science, whether it’s doing science outreach or working with their Seminar projects. The generous sharing of time and knowledge by the students within our major and department, like Hanna, may aid the future of science for both our students and the elementary school children.