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Columbus Leads Nation For National Lab Day
by Stacey Hondo
Dateline Columbus,OH: With sessions on the nature of time, invisibility, the inability of black holes to fit into a single reference frame from all points of reference, and the duration dilation experiment of David Eagleman, one thing is certain - as National Lab Day begins across the country, Central Ohio has emerged as a leader in the movement, and almost by the single handed efforts of one man - Marshall Barnes, R&D Eng. Marshall, working as a volunteer scientist, has not only arranged projects of his own at Bexley, Grandview, and other schools in the area, but has them happening in East Hampton New York, Canterbury, New Hampshire, among other out of state locations. Prior to this kick-off week, he's been consulting and facilitating projects in Cincinnati and Cleveland, as well as in states like Iowa and Colorado, accomplishing an unprecedented reach for a National Lab Day scientist.
National Lab Day officially begins May 12th but National Lab Day projects have been happening all year and some will be happening even next month. It's an effort to connect scientists, engineers, volunteers and others with schools to do presentations and projects that will promote and encourage STEM - science, technology, engineering and math.
The surprise is that none of the major institutions in Columbus, like Battelle or Chemical Abstracts, has any recognizable involvement. OSU does, but it is at one of Marshall's events through the OSU Community Extension Center via the Department of African American and African Studies. Marshall points to the fact that he was already interested and involved in the ideas behind National Lab Day when he first learned of it in last November. In fact, President Obama announced his Educate to Innovate initiative ( [www.whitehouse.gov
] ) not long before Marshall made his announcement to expand his SuperScience for High School Physics program ( [www.cleveland.com
] ) during an appearance on a NBC 4 news program that recognized the achievements of students he had worked with at Columbus Africentric Early College early in the year. After visiting the National Lab Day site and applying to be a volunteer scientist, it wasn't long before the innovator in Marshall saw the opportunity that the networking site had for making connections, not only with local projects, but with those across the country. Especially schools who had projects posted that were in his area of expertise.
It wasn't long before he was helping a school project in Colorado, and giving advice to a teacher in Hollywood or suggesting a teacher in Iowa get in touch with the Mars Society for help with a project about the red planet. That was in addition to helping and developing presentations that he would do on his own around Central Ohio, across the state and in other states via Skype and other Internet platforms.
The result is that he has made Columbus a significant player in National Lab Day on a national scale, more than any other city in the country. Enough that he says that Jack Hidary, National Lab Day founder, will be paying visit to Columbus at some point in the next several weeks.
And it's not just public schools he's interested in. It's all of them.
"There's no reason that every learning institution, from the largest public school to even those parents who home school their children, can't have some kind of National Lab Day experience. For example, why couldn't COSI have special event where all home schooled kids get in free for a special day of activities, or say some sponsors, who see the value in home schooling, paying for a bunch of them to get in for say a discount? I'm interested in promoting and stimulating young minds and not in the politics of education unless that gets in the way of learning. In the end, everyone ends up out in the real world and impacting it in their own ways, so I just want their early experiences, that will be the drivers for those impacts, to be as positive as possible."
It's thinking like this that Marshall feels will keep Columbus on the forefront of the STEM discussion, along with efforts like the Columbus Metro High School, ( [www.themetroschool.com
] ) which is STEM focused and run in part by Battelle.