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Students Visit Brookhaven National Lab with ESBOCES School Library System

Thirty-six students and librarians from six Suffolk County schools visited Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) to participate in Partners in Science, an annual collaboration between Eastern Suffolk BOCES School Library System and the Department of Energy research facility. Partners in Science is a program aimed to encourage students to pursue studies in science and mathematics by showing students the variety of career choices and research opportunities available. The full-day event introduces students to the unique resources and reference materials available at BNL. School Library System is a state-funded program through Eastern Suffolk BOCES that provides a variety of resources for local school libraries and their librarians.


The day started with a presentation led by Lisa Miller, a chemist, and manager at the National Synchotron Light Source-II User Services, Communications, Education, and Outreach office. The orientation covered how the National Synchotron Light Source-II (NSLS-II) operated and how it creates a high-energy, full-spectrum light beam used for scientific experiments. Ms. Miller explained that many people, ranging from high school students to veteran chemists, use the technology at BNL every day to make breakthroughs in physical science.


After the presentation, scientists who conduct research at the NSLS-II guided the students on a short tour through different parts of the facility, where they could see how the broad spectrum light is used for different experimentation. The students were able to see how experiments are set up to utilize x-rays created by the NSLS-II to make breakthroughs in everything from biology and medical sciences, to environmental and energy science.


Next, students visited Berkner Hall, a library on the BNL campus that can be utilized for research purposes. A pair of research librarians introduced the different databases available through BNL, including the Web of Science, a collection of different scientific journals. Students learned what makes a publication in a journal more credible than sources found on the internet, and how to properly evaluate the credibility of a resource. The pupils were then allowed to download and view the materials available through the Berkner Hall Library for use in their own research projects – which were presented and vetted by BNL prior to the event.


During a break for lunch, the groups of school librarians and students had an opportunity to sit and meet with a variety of BNL scientists, including those from the Particle Accelerator Program, and environmental science divisions. The break gave the students an opportunity to ask the scientists questions about their interest, including career pathways for those interested in research, and how to apply the scientific method to everyday problems and questions.


“This is a unique resource that we have on Long Island that really makes science and math come alive for some of our students,” said Carl Vitevitch, ESBOCES administrative coordinator for the School Library System. “To have a state-of-the-art facility like Brookhaven National Lab right here, it helps students visualize the kind of impact they can have on the world. For many of these students, it inspires them to pursue the sciences more heavily, which is really why we do this event.”


 Students stand in front of a piece of machinery at BNL

  Students and librarians in groups of 12 each toured a different part of NSLS-II.  


 A woman stands in front of a piece of scientific equipment

Lisa Miller points to a location where samples of superconducting materials are exposed to x-rays in order to test how they react in different environments.


 A woman in a white shirt sits with a table of people

Qiong Wu, a scientist who works in the Collider Accelerator Department at BNL, eats lunch with several students.


A room full of students sit at laptops

Students were able to use the resources at Berkner Hall to work on personal research projects. The topics of the projects, which were all vetted by BNL staff, ranged from monarch butterfly migration patterns to Lyme disease treatment strategies.