Teacher’s experience continues day 11 and counting


I’m writing this after we had finished the experience, just a bit behind. But it will have to due, I was really busy on the experience so keeping up with the entries was tough.

On Monday, we went back to the lab to finish our samples. And during that time we received data from our mentor. Using this data we started to put our presentation together for Thursday night. A very important night and I will discuss that in another entry. Once we finished our samples we had a total of 18 samples to go into the XRF (explained in an earlier blog entry). We had hoped to see it happen on Tuesday. However, bad news came our way, the XRF had to be fixed. They needed to order a part to fix it. So we ended up not getting the data from the Lab XRF to compare to the portable XRF. Our lab mentor Eirik e-mailed us to let us know he had fixed the machine on Friday, and hoped to get our samples taken care of. He worked hard to fix the machine and I know he probably worked long hours to get it done. So a big thanks to him. He said he would send the results to us, since we had leave on Friday. A teaching moment here, research does not always go the way you want it. Great point to make to the students.


Well on Tuesday and Wednesday we had tours to go on. One was to Atmospheric Lab where we meet up with scientists working on Cloud detection. We were given a tour of the facilities and learned about their projects.


Next on the list of tours was a tour of the Glass labs. This was interesting and two of the STARS researchers were assigned to this lab. This is where they are trying to experiment with different mixtures of glass to add to radioactive toxic waste and safely store this waste. Hanford site is currently holding barrels of radioactive waste from 70 years ago. So the clean up process is being improved for future use. The glass lab is playing a major role in this project. It was great to see different components of the lab.


The next two days were visiting different parts of PNNL and talking to different people. We meet with our mentor George for the last time before our presentation. This was a brief meeting talking about the results and what we had accomplished for future research. George did a great job explaining some of the data and reviewing the research. Overall, we had prepared everything for future research and hope to see some of the data at a later date. That day we went to the planetarium for dinner and a show. Saturn was viewable that night, and some people stayed to look through the awesome telescopes they had. That ended our day on the Tuesday.

Our last night for tours took place at the LIGO Hanford Observatory, here scientists are using sensitive optical equipment to search for gravitational waves from black holes.

Ultimately, LIGO is the largest sustained ultra-high vacuum in the world (8x the vacuum of space) keeping 300,000 cubic feet (about 8,500 cubic meters) at one-trillionth the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere.-obtained from LIGO website






The 4 km (a little less than 2.5 miles) of tunnel seemed to never end when we viewed it. The site was amazing and we had a brief lecture on theory of general relativity before the tour.

Well by Wednesday most research groups had finalized their projects and were preparing for the next night. This would be one of the most important nights for the STARS group.


About rippie77

Science Teacher at Cardinal Gibbons High School, Raleigh NC.

Posted on July 28, 2013, in Class Ideas, Labs, Siemens Stars, STEM, Teacher Ideas, Teacher Workshop and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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