It is widely recognized that the middle school years comprise a vital formative period in the lives of children. It is then when seeds of inspiration are most firmly implanted in their imaginations and begin to blossom into career aspirations. It is further recognized that these children are most strongly motivated and inspired by hands-on activities, particularly in science. Recognizing the urgent need that our nation has for highly educated scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, we have formulated the MASERS program to bring more hands-on science into middle school classrooms.
The year 2010 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the laser. Actually, the first type of laser was developed in the microwave region, and accordingly called a MASER (Microwave Amplication by Stimulated Emission of Radiation), for which Berkeley's Charles Townes shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964. We have named our science enrichment program after this revolutionary discovery.
Partnering with teachers in the Piedmont Middle School and the Community Resources for Science(CRS), a well-established organization for bringing science enrichment programs into elementary school classrooms in Alameda County, MASERS brings groups of young researchers into science classrooms of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Hands-on science experiments are prefaced by brief tutorials, typically presented by science and engineering graduate students who themselves aspire to become teachers, and who are trained by CRS. Hence, MASERS serves the dual function of promoting science teaching as well as science education.