Kids @ Work Day

May 2003

On April 24, 2003, LLE sponsored a morning-long program entitled Kids@Work for the national "Bring Your Children to Work Day." Forty-one children, ages 8 to 15, were treated to demonstrations, tours of laboratory facilities, and, of course, pizza! Dr. Robert McCrory, Director of LLE, opened the program by welcoming the children and describing some of the important work performed at LLE. He emphasized that LLE plays a critical role in national security and has a long-term mission based on the development of fusion energy.

Following the introduction, Sam Morse gave the children an interactive demonstration of how a laser works, using simple analogies to describe the concepts of the excited and ground states of neodymium (everybody got to be a light particle) as well as coherent waves (picture people doing the wave in a stadium). Following this demonstration, Eugene Kowaluk presented a slide show entitled "Parents@Work." Photos of LLE staff were chosen to emphasize the work environment at the Laboratory and to showcase the wide variety of activities that support the operation of the OMEGA Laser System. Interspersed with slides on optics and laser construction were candid photos from Laboratory-sponsered social events.

The primary activity of the Kids@Work Program was a set of facility tours. After the slide show, the children were assigned to one of four tour groups. Staff volunteers showed the children the OMEGA Laser System, the Center for Optics Manufacturing, the MEDUSA diagnostic facility and a demonstration of target fabrication techniques. The children were very excited to see Steve Noyes "milk" a spider for strands of silk used to mount cryogenic targets on holders. David Harding also demonstrated how we can get so much fuel into a tiny capsule by putting a balloon into liquid nitrogen! To complete the morning, Prof. Steven Jacobs put together a set of optics demonstration kits for each of the children and walked them through several fun and educational optics experiments. Pizza arrived just before noon and both parents and children ate lunch together.

Opening Ceremonies & Presentations

"One of my children stated 'I thought it would be boring because you said it was a tour, but we actually got to do a lot of things ourselves! It was fun!'"

"I would like to thank the presenters for a wonderful job! I observed two of the sessions (how lasers work and the optics and light workshop), and the excitement in the children as they experimented and learned was energetic!" —Alan S.

Facility Tours

Matt: "I don't want to go back to school, can't we stay here (at LLE) all day?"

Kelley: "Liquid Nitrogen is cool!"

"Extremely well done! Many thanks to all who made it possible."—Mike C.

"I have only been here 4 weeks now but when I came to interview, my daughter Samantha asked me to ask about Kids @ work day. Sami Jo says this was the best ever & she had a great time. Sami has already asked to come back next year. Thanks to all for putting on this event." —Mike M.

"My son loved the liquid nitrogen - he thought it was very cool. He was also fascinated by Steve Jacobs' liquid-crystal heat-sensitive paper. On the way home he kept holding it by the shadow made by the sun as it came into the car to record the boundary on his image. He also turned on the air conditioner when he wanted to rapidly erase the image." —Steve C.

Target Fabrication and Optics Demonstrations

"My son (Nathan) enjoyed the day a lot. His favorite parts were the demonstrations by Steve Jacobs and the Target Fab group. I thank the work you, Dr. Sangster, and others did to make the day possible." —David W.

"My family thought the day was terrific! The displays and presentations were all top-notch. My kids particularly were impressed with the target fabrication demo and all the cool stuff from Prof. Jacobs' demo." — Mark G.

Lunch with the Parents

"At the conclusion of the presentations I went over to one of our 8-year-old guests. While she was eating her pizza I asked her what she wanted to do for a career. 'I want to be a fireman or an artist.' So much for my pitch about optical engineering. She was also looking forward to becoming 9 years old so she could 'ride a horse by myself.' Puts life in perspective!" —Steve Jacobs