S. Hakan Armagan
S. Hakan Armagan recently completed his third year in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Academies Creating Teacher-Scientists (ACTS) program.
Armagan, who is a physics teacher at Burke High School in Omaha, Neb., spent his most recent experience at the Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Below is a question and answer dialog about Armagan’s experience in Oak Ridge. These same questions and answers can be seen in video format by clicking the link on the right side of the page.
How did you find out about and become involved with the program?
When I started teaching, I realized that I needed… I had a good theoretical background in my subject matter, which is physics, but I needed to have more exposure to research.
So I started thinking I need to apply for/find a[n] internship for research…a summer internship. And so I had something in my mind, then I started doing [an] Internet search and then, just along the way I saw this DOE ACTS. And then I looked at the program, I said, ‘Oh my God, this is exactly what I envisioned.’
So it was three summers, and not only focuses on the educational component, but also it mainly deals with research, and so their goal is to/the program’s goal is to make you a teacher scientist.
Describe the type of research you conduct at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
We have different type[s] of targets, and we find nuclear fission.
We basically, we have say uranium, and we bombarded the uranium with protons—and fast protons. And then those fast protons cause the uranium to split, which we call fission—nuclear fission—and then lots of energy comes out of that (energy being which we call radioactive ion beam).
So the facility I worked is basically analy[zing] the radioactive ion beams coming out of that nuclear fission.
Now that your three-year has come to an end, do you have any closing thoughts?
The first year was getting to know people, and you know, orientation… get to know where things are, how things work. And [the] second year where I started to make, you know, build some relations, and so this year I feel like…it’s [a] happy ending, but I’m a little, yes, sad.
What have you learned from the ACTS program that you have taken back to your high school in Nebraska?
Actually yes, my second year I have developed a class called energy and nuclear science.
Because of the confidence I gained here about nuclear physics and nuclear energy, I decided, too, that students not only need to/should have an exposure to energy to renewable and non renewable also nuclear energy and nuclear power, delve into the nuclear physics and nuclear medicine. So basically because of my internship, that allowed me to do it.
And so I’ll be teaching the class again next year. But I’ll be, of course…second time teaching is going to be even better.
How did the ACTS program help you personally?
Personally it broadened my mind in a way that I was hoping, and it did more than that.
Not just taught me research skills and being a scientist, and also, you know, I developed my computer skills…you know, the use of computational methods and presentations. And so it overall not only helped me with my research but also becoming, you know, a better teacher, better scientist.