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Language Science Outreach – Spring 2014

Language Science Outreach

LSC students and faculty have been busy spreading the word about language science to students of all ages. The outreach program started as a noble add-on to our day jobs, but it soon grew into a core part of our mission, as we learned that learning to communicate our science to diverse audiences also makes us better interdisciplinary scientists. Go figure.

Faculty and students are engaged in a wide variety of different outreach activities, many of them created independent of LSC. We will asking you to tell us about these in the coming weeks. But here is a summary of the activities that LSC’s students have been coordinating in this semester alone. The 2014 Outreach Team is led by Alison Shell (Psychology), with lieutenants Chris Heffner (NACS), Alix Kowalski (Hearing and Speech Sciences) and Rachel Dudley (Linguistics), and ably assisted by faculty mentors Meredith Rowe (HDQM) and Ellen Lau (Linguistics).

High School Visits
A partnership with the AP Psychology program at Northwood High School (Silver Spring) is now in its 6th year, and has since expanded to include Paint Branch High School (Burtonsville). These partnerships now reach around 200 students per year, mostly first-generation college candidates, giving them a taste of college life and for science in action. Meredith Rowe (HDQM) gave lectures on language acquisition at both high schools, in each case followed by a panel composed of graduate and undergraduate students. A couple of weeks after the school visits, around 100 students from each school visited the University of Maryland and participated in 9-12 interactive research activity groups led by students from different areas of language science. They visited labs, heard a talk by Ellen Lau (LING) and ended their campus visit with lunch at the Stamp Student Union, a highlight for many.

Montgomery-Blair HS Linguistics Club
High school students at MBHS in Silver Spring took it upon themselves to form a linguistics club, and UMD faculty and students from diverse departments have visited them for regular language science talks over the past couple of years, covering such topics as aphasia and disordered language, phonology in poetry, semantics and philosophy of language, natural language processing, sentiment analysis, and machine translation. MBHS students took a field trip to UMD on March 11th where they enjoyed more discussions, and demos, and pizza. Thanks to Yakov Kronrod (LING) and Alix Kowalski (HESP) who have been the key ambassadors for this unusual partnership. One MBHS student, Alan Du, did language science internships (in the iSchool and LING) in the past two summers, and recently traveled with us to Columbus OH, as he was co-author on a talk at the CUNY Sentence Processing Conference, led by his summer mentor Dan Parker (LING).

High School Internships
During the months of April and May, 2014 the outreach team will help to match students from the Eleanor Roosevelt High School with prospective faculty mentors. A poster session at the end of their internship will allow students to present their research to a broad language science crowd. Please contact us if you are interested in mentoring a student – ERHS has a strong science and technology magnet program, and many faculty have had great experiences with interns in past years.

Elementary Schools
Each year student volunteers from multiple departments volunteer as judges at science fairs for 3rd-5th grades at local elementary schools. In January a group of students participated in the University Park Elementary Science Fair; in May another group will attend the UPES Career Day; in December with the Berwyn Heights ES STEM Fair.

Maryland Day April 26, 2014
Don’t miss the Cognitive-, Neuro-, and Language Science tent at Maryland Day, the university’s annual celebration of science, arts, and sports that brings over 60,000 people to campus each spring. This year our tent will be moving to higher altitude, on Tawes Plaza.