Summer undergraduate research students at CLASSE have been actively influencing the sphere of science education across campus and the community. During their brief time at CLASSE, these students are shaping the research that occurs in laboratory spaces, showcasing their efforts and understanding in conference rooms, and driving the conversations and questions that occur in communal areas. In the laboratory, student devote hours of their time combing through the literature, contributing to the investigation, collecting data, and compiling their results. In their offices, meeting rooms, and communal spaces students reveal their ideas, grow their understanding, and search for connections as they interact with their peers and network of mentors. In addition, outside of the lab and throughout campus and the greater community, students interact directly the public and share their passion for science.
Through informal presentations to mentors and colleagues, summer students reveal their insights and uncertainties surrounding their assigned projects. These talks provide young scientists and engineers with the opportunity to communicate their own understanding of their work to others. This communication helps to solidify their own understanding and stretch their abilities to express this knowledge in a clear, digestible manner. Researchers must be skilled at transmitting their message so that others recognize the value and implications of their work. In order to be an effective scientist, students must practice being effective communicators and conveyors of knowledge for public consumption.
Reaching the public extends beyond the presentation podium. Summer students spend a portion of their time practicing techniques to influence the public’s perception of science. By interacting with young, diverse audiences, outreach activities allow these undergraduates to approach science in a playful and unassuming manner. Through direct interactions with youth, group demonstrations, and hands-on design activities, these undergraduate students are able to generate joy and excitement in around science. They help to replicate the events responsible for stimulating their own interest in science – the moment in time where they were drawn to the beauty and wonder of science. Illuminated by their own curiosity and creativity, the summer researchers encourage the next generation to embrace science as a way of understanding the world, and, just maybe, to follow their own footsteps on a path towards a science career.