From the classroom to the real world

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By Kirsten Laskey

Some students wonder when in life they will need the lessons taught in the classroom.


There is a link between school and the real world and the eighth annual Discover E event will prove it.

The program will be held from 4:30-7 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Los Alamos High School DECA cafeteria.

During the event, kindergarten through 12th grade students will be shown just how their science and math lessons can be applied in many different areas.

Partha Rangasamy, an organizer for Discover E, explained for this event,  volunteers from across the laboratory and community will offer their experience, specialty and education through  demonstrations that explore principles of physics and show applications of physics, chemistry and biology.

A press release stated past favorite activities at the event included numerous investigations of basic engineering, science, technology and math principles including automotive engines, Bernoulli’s Principle, bridges, computer aided design, crystal structures, electrochemistry, Newton’s laws of motion, optics, photo-elasticity, robots, vacuum cannon, forensic science and simple slide rules.

Other favorite demonstrations include materials properties, processing demonstrations and liquid nitrogen ice cream.

New activities last year included Let’s Read Math, generators, build your own hovercraft, Lenz’s Law, solar panels and an activity called, “Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?”

It’s an event that has attracted a lot of interest over the years.

Last year, more than 320 students and adults participated in the 46 demonstrations.

The objective behind the program, Rangasamy said, “Is to let students know what engineering is all about and meet some of the people who work at Los Alamos National Laboratory.”

He added, it also gives hands-on experience and shows students where physics classes and other classes can be applied.

The Los Alamos Chapter of ASM International, a professional society for Metallurgical Engineers and Materials Scientists, the Northern New Mexico Chapter of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Northern New Mexico Chapter of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) sponsor the event and are supported by a variety of groups at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Rangasamy explained, “We have two primary engineering societies – American Society of Materials and American Society of Mechanical Engineers – that decided that school children need to experience engineering as part of the community outreach program supported by LANL.

“Some engineering people at the lab thought this would be a good opportunity to show ... school children about engineering.”

The program has been held for seven years and is part of National Engineers Week.  National Engineers Week, the press release reported, was founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers to bring to public attention the work and contributions of the nation’s engineers.

The event is free to everyone. For more information, e-mail Dr. Beverly Aikin at bevaikin@lanl.gov.