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BEAMS: The Scientists

Who Are the "Scientist-Volunteers?" Each year, approximately 25% (100 people) of the Jefferson Lab's technical staff volunteer for the BEAMS program. These include engineers, scientists, computer programmers, accelerator operators, technicians, administrators, financial analysts, writers, and even the head of the finance department.

Recruitment. The staff volunteers are recruited by the BEAMS staff and by other volunteers, whose enthusiasm seems contagious. Recruitment begins with an array of activities set up just outside the lab's cafeteria. This alone attracts about 10 new people each year, despite low employee turnover at the lab. Usually, there are seven or eight volunteers from temporary technical personnel or visitors, such as accelerator users on an extended tour. The new volunteers join with veterans to fill the ranks. Return rates are high: in the history of the program, only three volunteers have dropped out.

Volunteer Preparation. Each volunteer leads students in doing one particular activity from the BEAMS collection. To learn how, the volunteer first observes another volunteer leading the same activity for students. The new recruit often takes very detailed notes, especially on the veteran volunteer's interactions with the students. In the following hour, the volunteer actually participates with an experienced volunteer in the same activity with a new group of students. Finally, the volunteer leads the activity him/herself, although as in all activities sessions, the class teacher and a member of the education staff are present.

The volunteer also receives the part of the BEAMS Teacher Handbook that is devoted to the activity he or she has observed and helped with. The handbook deals with the objectives of the activity, background material, and ways to involve the classroom teacher.

Activities Sessions. First, the volunteer in charge of the activity session is interviewed by the class, then the volunteer helps the students discover a little about the lab's work. The volunteer leads the activity and helps the students examine their results and reflect on what skills they have learned and how they might apply what they've learned to "real life."

Other Volunteer Roles. Members of the technical staff also volunteer for "role-model visits," during which the students get an opportunity to visit the volunteers in their labs or offices and ask them all kinds of questions. These visits are scheduled in advance.

Technical staff were also involved in developing the 5th and 6th grade activities and accompanying instructional materials and are expected to play a similar role in producing the activities and accompanying materials for the 7th and 8th graders.

Degree of Involvement. Some of the technical staff volunteer only three times per year; others volunteer every week that there are class visits, i.e. 25 weeks a year.


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