While it is incredibly satisfying to get to the bottom of some physical phenomenon (or simply come to grasp an effect that someone else got to the bottom of long ago), a great deal of satisfaction can also be had from communicating that hard-earned knowledge to others. I have had the chance to explore the following avenues toward that goal:
On a number of different occasions, I have gotten to speak to speak to grade-school and high-school students, typically to augment their instructors’ lesson plans or otherwise provide examples of science in action. Topics have ranged from “what Bessel functions are actually good for” (given to advanced high schoolers studying multivariable calculus) to explaining microgravity to second graders.
In February, I’ll be giving a introductory seminar on LaTeX and figure-making for new Caltech grad students.
Caltech Project for Effective Teaching:
For Caltech students interested in improving their classroom techniques, I highly recommend CPET’s Pedagogy Workshop Series, of which I am both a participant and an organizer.
TAing & tutoring:
In 2009 and 2010, I was a TA for the fission and fusion energy section of APh/Ch2. Over my years in undergraduate and graduate school, I have had the opportunity to tutor math and physics students at a variety of levels, from grade through up through college courses.
Translating scientific documents for a diverse readership:
During my first summer internship at NASA Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field, I rebuilt the complex fluids experiments web site. This involved researching more than 10 years of flight experiments, then summarizing that information in a format that was accessible to a general audience, while also keeping experiment details readily accessible for researchers.
As an undergraduate, I spent four years working on the campus newspaper, as a staff writer, then layout editor, then features editor, then editor-in-chief, then columnist. While editor-in-chief, I oversaw production of the 24- to 40-page weekly paper; edited for copy, content, layout, and journalistic integrity all stories and pages therein; managed a staff of 24 editors and 40-50 writers, as well as a budget of more than $30,000; and served as representative to the administration, the student body, advertisers and professional media. In my other capacities, I wrote between one and six stories per week for the news, opinions, magazine, arts, and/or features sections. Though I rarely wrote about science, I learned a great deal about the importance of clearly communicating the essential information, while also telling a compelling story.