High school students see science in action at Stanford

A group of students in a lab.

When the world’s most accomplished scientists gathered for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Jose recently, a cadre of the nation’s most promising high school scientists gathered too.

Some of those students had an opportunity to experience science at Stanford during a visit to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and to the main campus.

The 36 students who participated in the Stanford tour were fellows in the American Junior Academy of Science (AJAS), a national honor society for students who have completed exemplary scientific research projects while attending high school. Each affiliated (city, state, or regional) Academy of Science nominates their top high school science researchers, and these students, along with their teachers, are invited to the AJAS annual conference, held during the AAAS annual meeting.

The students, who were accompanied by teachers, parents and other officials, began their day at SLAC, a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science facility operated by Stanford.

JOSH TURNER, a scientist at Linac Coherhent Light Source (LCLS), presented a “day in the life at an x-ray laser.” The students also toured the LCLS’s experimental halls and visited the klystron gallery  – looking down the two-mile accelerator.

“The students and accompanying chaperones were able to see science in action as researchers prepared experiments, visiting stations set for recreating extreme states of matter (like those at the heart of Jupiter) and for studying the atomic structures of complex and critical proteins like those active in photosynthesis,” said MELINDA LEE, who manages community relations for the SLAC Office of Communication. “‘Cool’ and ‘Awesome’ were most frequently used descriptors,” Lee added.

Following the SLAC visit, the group visited the main campus and spent time in the Chemistry Department. They were blown away by the science and captivated by the beauty of the campus.

HENRY MAGUN, a Stanford freshman and former AJAS fellow, helped with planning the visit and checked in with the students while they were on campus.