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A Guide to Educational Activities

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, takes an active role in promoting science and technology education throughout the Gaithersburg, Md., community. Although NIST's mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life, the institute's employees participate in many educational activities in conjunction with local schools both public and private as well as higher education institutions.

To aid the educational community in locating information about NIST resources, the agency has established an Education Clearinghouse, a convenient centralized source of information about the educational activities at the NIST Gaithersburg site. Callers are referred to the appropriate contact for each activity by the Clearinghouse Coordinator.

For information on any of the activities listed below, contact Gayle Swenson, at (301) 975-2770.

NIST-Sponsored or Hosted Programs

NIST Student Employment/Student Fellowships

NIST Student Tours

NIST Boulder Educational Activities/Student Fellowships


NIST-Sponsored or Hosted Programs

4-H Adventure in Science, Inc.
This hands-on science program for children ages eight through 15 years consists of classes in physics, chemistry, computers, biology, astronomy, and other disciplines taught by scientists and engineers. Classes meet for two hours on Saturday mornings from October through March at NIST, Lockheed-Martin Corporation, Urbana Middle School, and the National Institutes of Health. Visit the Adventure in Science website for registration and contact details: http://www.adventureinscience.org.

Adopt-A-School Program
The Adopt-A-School Program is a partnership between NIST and Montgomery County Public Schools to promote academic excellence and a future world-class workforce that reflects the rich diversity of our nation.

Measurement Science Award for High School Students' Science Fair Projects (Sigma Xi)
This award is given to senior high school students who have entered the Montgomery Area Science Fair or the Frederick County Science Fair. Students are selected on the basis of the quality of measurement science that was applied in their science fair project. NIST judges look for experimental design, unbiased measurement methods, replication of the measurements, and statistical analysis of the data.

NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Teachers
The NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers, a collaboration between NIST and local school districts, is an innovative combination of hands-on activities, lectures, tours, and visits with scientists in their laboratories. Designed to coordinate with the middle school curriculum, the teachers are provided with resources and instructional tools for teaching math and science, with an emphasis on measurement science used at NIST. Led entirely by NIST scientists, the Summer Institute translates the cutting-edge research done in the laboratory to activities designed to be carried out in the classroom. Networking among the scientists and teachers provide long-term resources through the on-going relationships for the teachers and their students. Visit the institute’s website: http://www.nist.gov/iaao/teachlearn/index.cfm.

Science: Get Psyched!
NIST hosts this event once a year for 300 Girl Scouts from the local area. The girls are divided into small groups and visit several rooms where lively, hands-on science demonstrations are presented. The girls also have the opportunity in a panel discussion to ask female scientists questions about why they chose science and what it is like to be a scientist. Contact the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital at http://www.gscnc.org/ or the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland at http://www.gscm.org/ for more information and to register.

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day
This one-day annual activity, sponsored by NIST and supported by the NIST Civil Rights and Diversity Office is open to children of NIST employees (ages nine through 14). Science demonstrations, and hands-on experiments are included in the day's activities.

Yearly Teacher Award (NIST Chapter of Sigma Xi)
This award is presented by the NIST Sigma Xi chapter to a teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools.


NIST Student Employment/Student Fellowships

Student Employment
NIST has student employment opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students as well as volunteer programs for students in high school and above. Three types of student employment opportunities are:

Student Fellowships
SURFing the Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Electronics and Electrical Engineering, Chemical Science and Technology, Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, Information Technology, and Building and Fire Research Labs

These Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Programs are part of the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Undergraduate students interested in pursuing graduate degrees in physics, materials science, engineering, computer science, chemistry, applied math, or related areas come to NIST for a 12-week summer honors-academy program involving them in hands-on research.

Summer High School Intern Program (SHIP)
The NIST Summer High School Intern Program (SHIP) is an eight-week summer program for high school students. Students selected for this competitive volunteer program participate in cutting-edge research at NIST, and work closely with NIST staff scientists on a specific research problem. SHIP is aimed at students who will have finished their junior or senior year of high school by the start of the program. During their tenure at the NIST Gaithersburg and NIST Boulder campuses, the SHIP students are unpaid volunteers, but receive student service learning hours (for those enrolled in Montgomery County, Md., public schools). This program is open only to U.S. citizens. For more information, contact ship@nist.gov.

Other Web site to Visit: Post-Doctoral Research Associateships Program


NIST Student Tours

College Tours
These guided class tours consist of visits to three NIST labs. The tours are geared toward the students' area of study, such as engineering, physical science, mathematics, and computer science. Each tour can accommodate up to 24 students.

8th-12th Grade Tours
These guided two-hour tours of NIST consist of visits to three labs. The tours are geared toward the students' area of study or interest. Each tour can accommodate up to 24 students.

Tour of NIST's Center for Neutron Research for High School Science Classes
NIST's Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) offers a special tour of its facilities specifically tailored for high school science classes. Groups of up to 40 can be accommodated for the introductory lecture and tour that take about two hours. The emphasis is on how neutrons are used to probe the sub-microscopic structures and molecular motions that determine the properties of materials ranging from concentrate to cell membranes.


NIST Boulder Educational Activities/Student Fellowships

PREP Student Fellowship Program

Summer High School Intern Program (SHIP)
The NIST Summer High School Intern Program (SHIP) is an eight-week summer program for high school students. Students selected for this competitive volunteer program participate in cutting-edge research at NIST, and work closely with NIST staff scientists on a specific research problem. SHIP is aimed at students who will have finished their junior or senior year of high school by the start of the program. During their tenure at the NIST Gaithersburg and NIST Boulder campuses, the SHIP students are unpaid volunteers, but receive student service learning hours (for those enrolled in Montgomery County, Md., public schools). This program is open only to U.S. citizens. For more information, contact shipB@nist.gov.

SURF NIST Boulder
SURF NIST Boulder provides opportunities for college undergraduates to engage in research in all aspects of technology and measurement science. The principal goal of the SURF program is to motivate students to pursue PhD programs in preparation for careers in research and development.