The Fermilab Adventure Continues–plan ahead for the FREE tour of Fermilab offered from 10:00-11:30AM on Wednesdays.  I went on today’s tour (02/20/2019). The next tour available is next Wednesday, 02/27/2019.

Fermilab Public Tour—2019-02-20–10:00AM-11:30AM
It’s a little after 9:00 AM and I am in the cafeteria in Wilson Hall with my second cup of coffee for the morning. We had a mix of snow, freezing rain, and rain this morning. The were plowing my driveway by 8:30, so I decided to get to Fermilab early. (I’m glad I did, I found parking relatively close by Wilson Hall—in the area for the Auditorium. At least 4 Subaru Outbacks and one Subaru Accent in the parking lot on my way in. A popular car for Fermilab.)
There is an art gallery on the second floor that’s not part of the public tour, so I’ll go up there in a few minutes. Coffee—16 oz for $2.00 including tax—not the least expensive cafeteria, probably comparable to a hospital’s cafeteria.
Most of the people I see are dressed the way I am, sweaters and open-necked shirts. The temperature in this atrium is comfortable—about 74 degrees.
Lots of cars here by 8:45 AM—Means (probably) early starting hours here at Fermilab.
I’ve wanted to come on a public tour since coming to the 50th Anniversary Open House on September 23, 2017. This is the first time I’ve come to one. (I took the morning off from teaching and need to be a JB Nelson Elementary (just down Pine St) by Noon.)
There are about a dozen people in the atrium this morning.
I did create the “Fermilab Adventure” video on Sunday with a tour of Fermilab’s Internet Footprint. They have lots of education offerings and, in addition to their FNAL.gov website, are very active on Facebook (multiple pages), Instagram (lots of pictures), Twitter (two active accounts), and YouTube (almost 200,000 subscribers and more than 752 videos).
Before the tour I visited the Fermilab art gallery and viewed the exhibits on Enrico Fermi and the creation of Fermilab. They also have two videos to watch while waiting for the tour to begin and a full cafeteria available.
We started promptly at 10:00AM.  (By the way, they advise arriving early because of parking issues and I fully agree. Getting to Wilson hall by 9:30AM is a very good idea.) Two staff members of Fermilab accompanied three of us on the 90-minute tour. Our docent (on Fermilab staff for 7 years) and another staff member who has been with Fermilab for 17 years.  It was great to have perspectives and insights from both of these people. (I’ll add their names to this post when I get them.)
We started at a mock-up of Fermilab itself, then looked out the windows to see the building on the mock-up. Fermilab occupies 10 miles of space and much of it is a nature preserve. The tour is worth experiencing rather than having me write it up. In the tour, the docent talks about Fermilab’s past, present, and future and gives us glimpses into the research going on 24/7 at the facility.
Important to know, Fermilab is dedicated to sharing information. There is no connection with military applications and scientists share their information with other scientists around the world. Some business-related projects and some patents are relatively confidential–for business reasons rather than for security reasons. The public has access to most of what Fermilab has to offer and Fermilab goes out of its way to invite the public to visit–including an Arts and Lecture series and lots of science education.


9-11-2018-New Meaning to the Date

I was substitute teaching today for a class of 5th graders in a public school in Batavia, IL. Shortly after lunch, at 12:30 PM CDT, the principal announced that we were having a “Lock-Out” and the building would be secured.  (Batavia has recently changed the names for its various security precautions and, as a substitute teacher, I have not yet been advised as to what the new names are or mean.)

The class and I automatically responded to the principal’s alert as though it were a “lock-down” (securing the classroom doors, retreating to a safe space where no one can see anyone from the outside.  The space we went to is a small office between two classrooms. I made sure the doors to both classrooms were locked and we stayed very quietly in the office space until the “all clear” was announced about 1:30 PM.)

We all experienced this as though it were a true “lock-down” with a possible intruder in the building, making sure we were not making noise to attract anyone to where we were. I reminded the kids to breath deeply and not to talk or move around.

Fortunately, we were always safe. There were no intruders in the building and the school was safe the entire time. We just didn’t know it until after it was over. There was some activity outside of the school and the police didn’t want anyone to enter the school until they had everything under control.  All that was handled at the administrators level.

All of us in the class experienced this as a true “lock-down” experience which we survived successfully.  (The kids all “clipped-up” on a behavior chart after the Lock-Out because they had done so well in that safe office.). The students recovered quickly.  While we didn’t talk about 9-11-2001, these students got a taste of that and of the experience students have gone through when bad things have happened in other schools. They were scared and the responded well to my instructions about staying safe and keeping quiet, breathing deeply and not talking or moving around too much.

On reflection, while I would have treated the Lock-Out differently if I had known that we could have continued classes and just not gone outside, I think erring on the side to keeping the students safe in a “lock-down” environment was a good idea in the absence of more information. From this experience, the kids know they can survive a “lock-down” situation, even one that lasts almost 50 minutes.

I went to the principal to “brag” about the students responses and learned that we had gone “overboard” in our response to the situation. The principal came down and spoke to the class as they were leaving their special for the day, letting them know that they had never been in any danger and that the exercise we had gone through was caused by some miscommunication.  I added that information to the feedback I had already sent to the permanent teacher and copied the principal so both would see what I had said about positive student response.

I debated about blogging about this experience and I feel that it is important, especially in this post-9-11-2001 and post-Sandy-Hook era. Students and teachers never know when they will need to face what this 5th grade class faced today with courage discipline, compassion, dignity, a sense of cooperation and caring for each other. It’s a blessing that everyone was always safe, though we didn’t know that at the time. They recovered quickly and with grace and we went on with our day, doing a read-aloud and going to the last special for the day before preparing to go home at the end of the day.