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Berkeley Lab Welcomes DOE’s Science Education Initiative

BERKELEY, CA – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, with its wide range of educational programs designed to reach students of all ages, welcomed U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham’s July 8 announcement that the Department of Energy and its national laboratories are launching an initiative to promote science literacy and help develop the next generation of scientists and engineers.

“We are pleased that Secretary Abraham has announced a new science education initiative focusing on teachers and students,” said Berkeley Lab Director Charles V. Shank. “Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has a long and proud tradition of education outreach, and we are well positioned to respond.

“We welcome the Secretary’s commitment to support hands-on experiences for teachers and students from elementary to high school,” added Shank. “We have many talented potential scientists, engineers and technicians in our nation’s schools, but most are not receiving exposure to the challenges at the frontiers of research that will motivate them to consider careers in science, technology and computing.”

To tap these students’ potential, Berkeley Lab boasts a variety of programs that expose students to the rewards of a career in science and technology.

“Berkeley Lab provides an active outreach program for students from 5th grade through high school in our surrounding school districts,” said Shank. “Last year, through a variety of successful activities that fall under this initiative, more than 2,000 students participated in hands-on career-oriented programs presented by Berkeley Lab staff. We also provide mentored research internships for university and community college students and faculty.”

And, according to Rollie Otto, head of Berkeley Lab’s Center for Science and Engineering Education, Berkeley Lab is one of the founders of the Laboratory Science Teacher Professional Development Program.

“We started with 15 teachers this summer,” said Otto. “Twelve of these teachers are from local schools and three from out of state schools. Our program is designed to support teachers as leaders in their schools, and as partners in extending Berkeley Lab’s resources to students in their schools and school districts.”

Other programs include Berkeley Lab’s Nano*High Saturday morning lecture series, which features world-class scientists in this new interdisciplinary field. More than 350 local high school students have signed up for one or more of the seven lectures.

And Berkeley Lab’s Careers in Science and Technology and School Tours program has involved more than 30 Lab volunteers. Since these programs were established in the fall of 2002, more than 4,000 students in 165 school classes have met scientists, participated in hands-on experiences, and learned about science at Berkeley Lab. Lab staff also volunteer as science fair judges or presenters at science nights.

In addition to these initiatives, Berkeley Lab has pioneered several innovative Web-based learning tools. Among these is a virtual frog that has notched its 10th year despite millions of dissections. Launched in June of 1994, the Virtual Frog Dissection Kit website allows users to virtually dissect a frog from a computer. More than 15 million people in more than 130 countries have visited the frog at

The Particle Adventure, an award-winning website sponsored by Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division, offers an interactive tour of quarks, neutrinos, antimatter, extra dimensions, dark matter, accelerators, and particle detectors. Aimed at high school students, teachers, and general audiences interested in the basics of particle physics, the website receives millions of hits annually and has been translated into 12 languages. Visit it at

“The Department of Energy’s new science education initiative is calling for greater levels of participation and impact at our laboratories, and Berkeley Lab looks forward to meeting the challenge,” Shank said.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California. Visit our website at

More information about all of the components of the Department of Energy’s science education initiative is available via the Internet at, or directly at