Lesley Wolf, the Ashley Career Development
Fellowship recipient (Photo by Diana Rogers)
By Anna Gosline
After a year of work in SLAC Public Affairs and more than
two years in the SLAC Library, Lesley Wolf has certainly developed a taste
for the intersection between public information and physics research. Yet
she still thinks like the middle school teacher she once was.
This unique, dual perspective led her to develop a
proposal for a powerful physics educational tool and subsequently earn
this year’s Alonzo W. Ashley Career Development Fellowship.
The yearlong fellowship allows the recipient to take time
off from their usual SLAC duties to pursue further school, job training,
new programs at SLAC or even new jobs. Wolf plans to do a little of each
of these. Her major goal is to put a significant dent in her library
sciences coursework at San Jose State University. This training will give
her the necessary preparation to tackle a serious question: How can we
make the vast on-line physics educational resources more accessible and
directly relevant to teachers?
Most major research centers like SLAC have beautiful
on-line visitor’s centers, bursting with information, graphics and
displays. However, they are not optimally organized for the hectic
schedule and curriculum-oriented needs of a teacher. Through observations
and interviews with teachers, Wolf hopes to learn exactly how these Web
sites are currently used and how teachers and students interact with them.
Using this research, combined with her previous teaching
experience and newly acquired training in library sciences, Wolf hopes to
create an on-line index of existing Web sites based on the framework of
the California State curriculum. Applicable topics specified in the
curriculum for each grade will be linked to relevant available Web sites.
By using Wolf’s tailor-made on-line educational index,
teachers in all areas of expertise may be more likely to present a richer
and more engaging slice of physics in their classrooms. This, Wolf hopes,
will foster future interest in physics and help to explain the workings of
fascinating places like SLAC, ultimately showing people the importance and
relevance of physics research. Science, especially physics, can have a bad
rap with students. "It doesn’t have to seem so hard and inaccessible,"
says Wolf. With Lesley’s help, the diverse world of physics may be just a
few clicks away.