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Dorfan Today: Educational Outreach at SLAC

"Rising Above the Gathering Storm," released by the National Academy of Sciences in Fall 2005, poignantly describes the challenges the U.S. faces for economic prosperity and national security in a fast-paced economy. Key recommendations are to "vastly improve K-12 science and math education" and "to strengthen the nation's commitment to long-term basic research." To address these concerns, the SLAC Education Task Force committee, led by Mike Woods, assessed our current educational outreach programs. The Education Task Force Report contains specific recommendations to engage SLAC scientists with students and teachers to improve K-14 science education.

The Education Task Force strongly recommended creating an Office of Education within the Communications Department. I am pleased to announce the recent hiring of Susan Schultz to lead this new office as the SLAC Education Officer. Susan completed a PhD in Science Education at Stanford in 1999 and has extensive experience in conducting teacher professional development workshops, designing curriculum, teaching strategies to promote student learning, and evaluating science programs. She will be supporting and strengthening SLAC’s existing educational programs, implementing many of the committee’s recommendations, and collaborating with the newly formed Stanford K-12 Initiative.

The primary goal of the K-12 Initiative is to form interdisciplinary collaborations that bring the university's deep knowledge in many disciplines together with the School of Education's knowledge about teaching and schools to undertake programs to improve K-12 education. SLAC Professor Helen Quinn and School of Education Professor Kenji Hakuta are co-chairs of the Initiative Steering Committee which includes representation from all schools of the university. Their task is to identify important topics in K-12 education to which Stanford can contribute and to develop mechanisms to make those contributions possible and effective.

One of SLAC's most successful educational outreach programs is the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) directed by Mike Woods. The program selects 25 students from traditionally underrepresented groups and provides opportunities for them to collaborate with SLAC scientists on state of the art research. These scientists generously contribute their time and expertise to cultivate their students' appreciation of the discipline, to enable students to experience the rigors of research and to ultimately foster the next generation of scientists. It is with great pleasure that Acting DOE Site Office Manager Aundra Richards and I will recognize two current SULI mentors—Yemi Adesanya and Robert Kirby—with the 2006 Outstanding Mentor Award later this week.

—Jonathan Dorfan, February 26, 2007