Science Communications Fellow: turning cutting-edge research into inquiry-based activities

The U-M Museum of Natural History awards Science Communication Fellowships to graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members interested in sharing their research with the general public.

With guidance from museum program staff, Science Communication Fellows develop meaningful, inquiry-based and materials-rich table-top activities that showcase their research. We then share these activities with K-12 students and the public at various outreach events. The Science Communications Fellowship has allowed me to interact with public audiences at elementary schools and libraries; these interactions promote an appreciation and understanding of interacting supermassive black holes to many future scientists!

FEMMES: using female role models to demonstrate how women can, and do, excel in the sciences

FEMMES (Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering and Science) is dedicated to closing gender and racial divides in computer science and STEM fields. You can learn more here.

Twice a year the University of Michigan hosts a FEMMES Science Capstone event, providing hands-on STEM education to 4th - 6th graders from schools in southeast Michigan. For the 2018 Winter Capstone event, Aleksandra Kuznetsova and I organized an Astronomy demo that taught the girls about star formation, the detection of planets, and gravitational waves!

I created a fun GW demo, adapted from JPL . Using the collisions of different sized marbles in "jello spacetime", you can illustrate i) how GWs are made and ii) how LIGO detects them.

Michigan Math and Science Scholars: encouraging the next generation of researchers to develop a love of science

In the Summer of 2017, I worked with Monica Valluri to teach a course for Michigan Math and Science Scholars, titled "Black Holes: Illuminating the Abyss". This program brings high-school students from across the country to the University of Michigan, in order to learn advanced topics via 2-week courses. I led both lectures and labs, introducing students to topics such as black hole physics, galactic dynamics, special relativity, and telescope observing.

The final project for the students was to build a model of the Milky Way across the Diag, and place many of our galaxy's most interesting X-ray sources in their correctly scaled coordinates!

Harvey Swanson Elementary School: Earth & Science Festival

In the Summer of 2016, Vivienne Baldassare and I designed a hands-on lesson plan in order to introduce 2nd -- 5th graders to black holes. Our demo, called "Black Holes!", included demonstrations on how black holes form and why black holes accrete.