What do you want to ask a scientist?

That was the question posed to local middle and high school students via a series of “Ask a Scientist” video demonstrations and online discussions launched this month by the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District in conjunction with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Livermore Lab Foundation.

The four-part program is providing virtual resources to students interested in science and engineering, including interactive discussions with LLNL scientists as they explain their work and showcase experiments in physics, space and planetary defense, and environmental and physical science.

“LLNL produced a great series of short videos from laboratory scientists and engineers demonstrating various science concepts,” said Sally Allen, executive director of the Livermore Lab Foundation. “We felt there was an opportunity to showcase these videos and partner with the school district to supplement the online learning now occurring due to COVID-19.”

The videos were shared with school district administrators and science teachers, who identified key learning objectives, terminology and relevant Next Generation Science Standards. Students were then encouraged to watch the videos on their home computers and send their questions to the Livermore Lab Foundation. The students could then log onto one-hour, interactive virtual meetings with LLNL scientists to hear more on the subjects covered and get answers to their questions. 

“Given our current circumstances requiring distance learning, we wanted to explore new programs to enhance the learning environment. This is exactly the type of innovation that helps our students stay engaged,” said school district Superintendent Kelly Bowers. “We’re grateful to both the foundation and LLNL for the opportunity to collaborate.”

The four “Ask a Scientist” programs being offered this month are:

·      Make a Backyard Crater with a Planetary Defense Physicist (Dr. Megan Bruck Syal)

·      Staying Entertained with Physics (Dr. Leland Ellison)

·      What Does an Atmospheric Scientist at LLNL Do?  (Dr. Jessica Osuna)

·      Edible Aquifer Experiment (Monique Warren, environmental engineer)

The videos are also available to the general public on LLNL’s YouTube Channel. For more information and to view the follow up question-and-answer sessions, go to