Saturday Science Renamed for Founder Duane Jaecks

Photo Credit: Duane Jaecks and others attend Saturday Science
by Amanda Lager Tue, 02/28/2017 - 09:44

Fifty fifth-grade students line up to enter the darkened Jorgensen Hall auditorium. One-by-one they look into a demonstration of image transmission by laser. A group gathers to touch the plasma ball. Even more swarm Professor Steve Ducharme before his presentation.

"Light and Lasers" is one of four Saturday Science classes. During the lecture, students participate in a brief discussion and watch demonstrations. For students guess the elements of the sun, and learn how scientists use spectral lines observed from Earth's surface to verify the answers. Ducharme explains how light phenomena work, and then releases the students to individual laboratories to conduct hands-on experiments.

Today's Topic Light and Lasers
Lasers bent by a prism

Each weekend in February, over 100 Lincoln Public School students attend Saturday Science. Duane Jaecks founded Saturday Science in 1975 to teach children basic physics concepts and to get them excited about science. To honor over 40 years of Saturday Science and to celebrate fulfilling the Woollam Challenge Grant, the program was renamed "Duane Jaecks Saturday Science."

Jaecks, pictured above, visited the year's final session for a program commemoration.

Saturday Science is now supported by an endowment thanks to the generosity of individual donors, including Chuck and Barb Francis, and a large challenge match from the John A. Woollam Foundation. John Woollam is a George Holmes Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, a courtesy Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and founder of the J.A. Woollam Company. Jaecks kicked off the Woollam Challenge Grant with the first matching donation.

The challenge generated over $80,000 for the program, providing scholarships for students, equipment and take-home materials, and small stipends for volunteers. Jaecks' vision to inspire LPS students will continue for many years to come.

Grad student explains circuits system
Students build diffraction grating tubes

Saturday Science is a partnership between the Department of Physics & Astronomy and Lincoln Public Schools. Physics faculty deliver lectures about various science topics to inspire curiosity about STEM fields and potential careers in science. Postdoctoral researchers and graduate students lead laboratory sessions.

Other 2017 topics include "Tops and Things That Turn and Spin" delivered by Cliff Bettis, "Electricity and Magnetism" by Dan Claes, and "Astronomy" by Michael Sibbernsen.