October 3, 2003  


Lesley Wolf: Hunting for an Easier Way to Get Physics into Classrooms

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.


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Thursday October 02, 2003 by Kathy B