Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


ORNL researchers talk to middle schoolers about science

These infrared light images of Lenoir City's North Middle School students were captured as part of a recent materials science demonstration at the school by ORNL scientists. Researchers conduct specific structure experiments that are periodically performed in the Oak Ridge materials laboratory.
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 10, 2009 — Sixth graders at Lenoir City's North Middle School are still be a few years away from their career pursuits, but they had some career seeds planted in their heads during a recent visit by Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers. The three ORNL representatives provided visual examples of the type of work performed at ORNL's High Temperature Materials Laboratory, which is a center used by scientists and engineers from around the world to conduct research into the structure of many different types of materials.

Speaking to three different groups during the course of the day, a highlight of the visit was the demonstration of an infrared light used at ORNL to conduct specific structure experiments that are periodically performed in the Oak Ridge materials laboratory.

"This demonstration focused on temperature, heat, heat transfer and other experiments of this type that we conduct in our laboratory," said Edgar Lara-Curzio, director of the high temperature materials facility. "By going into the classroom and conducting these experiments and demonstrations, we are giving middle school students an opportunity to think about the possibility of maybe going into this field some day.

"They may only be in their early teens, but it won't be long before they have to start thinking about what they want to do during the rest of their lives. For those who may have an interest in science and/or engineering, a visit like this could help pave the way for a future engineer."

Joining Lara-Curzio during the visit were Hsin Wang of ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division and Roy Wallen of ORNL's Campus Support and Instrumentation Division. The latter's grandchild is a North Middle School sixth grader.

Lara-Curzio noted that in addition to visits to schools, he and members of his staff often conduct tours for school groups on-site. More than 2, 500 students toured ORNL facilities during 2008.

"We recognize the fact this country will need many new scientists and engineers in the future," Lara-Curzio said. "Outreach activities such as these help attract the children of today to become the scientists and engineers of the future."

More information about ORNL researchers visiting schools or school groups visiting the ORNL facility is available by calling Fred Strohl at 865-574-4165 (strohlhf@ornl.gov).

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.