I participated in the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program at Penn State University with Dr. Ronald Redwing and Dr. Qi Li in the Physics Department. Many research universities across the country have similar programs that offer teachers the opportunity to take part in fellowship supported science research.
The first two weeks of my experience involved preparing for a teacher workshop entitled Mechanics of Materials (another link) [pictures]. My primary responsibilities included acquisition of laboratory materials, dry runs of the experiments, and some other preparatory duties. I also facilitated laboratory instruction during the course and was primarily responsible for laboratory supplies and equipment. Since I had already worked the bugs out of the laboratory procedures I was able to aid participants in obtaining successful products.
The PPMS is used to carry out electrical transport and heat capacity measurements from 0.35K to room temperature under a magnetic field up to 8 Tesla. For those of you who don't know, that's really cold and a really strong magnetic field.
The interface box allows for greater flexibility of the measurement system. I worked closely with Dr. Redwing and James Kurtz, physics graduate student, in the design of the interface box and spent about four days constructing it.
There are two other projects that I was involved in. First off, I was quite successful in producing YBCO superconducting pellets for use as demonstration apparati. Much of the work involved optimizing the procedure so that a typical high school class could manufacture these bulk superconductors at low cost. James Kurtz, a physics graduate student, was instrumental in aiding me with testing the critical temperature of the materials.
The second project I worked on is the reprodution of a magnetic semiconductor material. I'm taking this project over from another RET Participant, Ruth Barnes. This work was supervised by Dr. Qi Li.
My experience was excellent overall.