Fifth and sixth grade students
are brought to the Jefferson Lab for BEAMS every day for
a week, where they are involved in a broad range of
hands-on, inquiry-centered activities, most led by
members of the lab's technical staff.
Selection of School Districts
and Classes. Roughly 50 classes are brought to the
lab each year from four school districts surrounding the
lab. In choosing classes for BEAMS, emphasis is placed on
reaching children who wouldn't otherwise have such an
opportunity. These include children from inner city
schools, those from schools with the lowest test scores,
and those from schools with a high percentage of minority
Preparation of Teachers. In
the fall and in the spring, teachers whose classes are
scheduled for a BEAMS visit that semester come to
Jefferson Lab for a full day of orientation and training
by the BEAMS education staff and three technical staff
volunteers. Typically, the day includes an overview of
the Jefferson Lab; three or four hands-on activities
drawn from the BEAMS-developed collection, including one
activity led by a scientist in which the teachers play
the role of student; lunch, during which the teachers
meet other members of the lab's technical staff; a tour
of the lab; and, finally, four activities (including the
two hardest) led by the education staff with the teachers
again playing the role of student. Veteran teachers
advise those who have not been to the lab before and
sometimes lead activities themselves.
Because the teacher orientation
and training package is designed to ensure the
integration of the BEAMS activities into the regular
curriculum back in the schools, lab staff provides to the
visiting teachers detailed explanations of how each
activity addresses the Virginia State Standards of
Learning and the National
Science Education Standards.
The staff is acquainted with the school districts'
individual curriculum goals and points out to teachers
how the activities will fit in.
Pre-BEAMS Visit to Schools. A
week or two before students go to the Jefferson Lab,
their class receives a 60-minute visit from a technical
staff member who conducts an introductory hands-on
activity and gives details of what to expect at BEAMS.
five consecutive days during school hours, classes of
schoolchildren and their teachers are immersed in
Jefferson Lab's research environment, where they
participate in about 13-15 hands-on science and math
activities in which the lab's scientists, engineers, or
technicians are the leaders or facilitators. Detail: Activities
The technical staff also leads
the students in several "events": visiting the
director of the lab; touring the lab; and visiting with
technical staff in their offices or labs
("role-model visits"), where students pepper
the staff with interview-type questions.
Over the course of the week,
each BEAMS class has the opportunity to interact with at
least 13 members of the Jefferson Lab technical staff.
Toward the end of the visit, students have an opportunity
to discuss with staff the careers to which they have been
introduced during the week--how to prepare for them, what
one does in them, personal and professional rewards, and
other benefits, such as salaries. The importance of
enrolling in challenging math and science courses is also
BEAMS takes place all over the
lab, in an on-site classroom, outdoors, in the staff
cafeteria, in laboratories, in assembly areas, and at the
Post-BEAMS Visit. The
same technical staff member who conducted the pre-BEAMS
visit and activities also pays a post-BEAMS visit to the
class about three weeks after the students' BEAMS
experience. The visit includes discussions by students
Number of Visiting Classes. About
two classes visit the lab each week of the school year.
During the 1996/1997 school year, 56 classes from 10
schools plan to make week-long BEAMS visits.
An Immediate Follow-up
Activity Involving Parents: Family Night. After the
BEAMS visits, four classes of students and the students'
parents are invited to a "Family Night" at the
lab to increase the parents' understanding of science,
math, and technology, to stimulate the parents'
involvement in their children's education, and to
reinforce the BEAMS experience. On Family Nights, the
lab's education staff talks to the parents, explaining
their program's goals and hoped-for outcomes in terms of
the children. The staff then conducts some of the BEAMS
activities with the parents. The students get a chance to
show their parents around and to act as their parents'
guides to five more BEAMS activities. The students often
end up showing off, which lets their parents see how much
fun they have doing science.
Follow-up Activities for 9th
Graders. In a program started in 1994, about 5% of
the 9th graders who have had the BEAMS experience return
to the lab for a few days to learn interview and
application skills, to shadow lab scientists at work, and
to serve as role models for the 5th and 6th graders who
are there that week. Often, the 9th graders lead the
younger students through a BEAMS activity.
A New Follow-up Program for
7th and 8th Graders. In the future, to achieve a
greater impact, the BEAMS staff is planning to introduce
a new three-year program, targeted toward the three
neediest middle schools.
In the first year, all 6th
graders from these schools will continue to have the
BEAMS experience. But they will be brought back in their
7th grade year for two days in the fall, for
design-challenge and science-fair projects, and for three
days in the spring, to work with some of the BEAMS 5th
and 6th graders and to participate in some life-science
activities (the focus of the 7th grade curriculum). Then,
in their 8th grade year, these students will return yet
again for three days in the fall and two in the spring.
This time, their activities will be in physics
(corresponding to the 8th grade curriculum).
In developing this new program,
Jefferson Lab's education staff have been working closely
with the principals and guidance counselors of the three
middle schools. Their ultimate goal is to keep these
students in school (in one of the three middle schools,
20% of the students drop out between the 6th and 8th