Héctor G. Arce



    As a scientist, it is my duty to transmit my knowledge and experience to the the general public, as well as the future generation of scientists. As a Puerto Rican, I am particularly interested in working towards widening the participation of underrepresented minorities in the physical sciences.

     Numerous reports from government and non-government agencies agree that science literacy is essential to the future and prosperity of the nation (e.g., see this). It is very important that the U.S. develop programs that build young peoples’ skills and increase competency in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. In particular, the most recent Biennial Report to Congress by the NSF Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE) recommends strengthening programs that help broaden participation of minorities in STEM fields.

Past Outreach Activities

   From 2004 to 2007 (while I was an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow) I worked with the Hayden Astrophysics Enrichment and Research Program at the American Museum of Natural History (in October 2007 the program moved to Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences). This program provided academic support and growth for school-aged New York City youth from underrepresented groups in low-income communities through lectures, hands-on activities, inquiry-based learning, and research experience. The program exposes the students to science and research and strives to create a community of scientifically adept young people.

     I created some of the astrophysics curriculum and hands-on activities for the high school students in collaboration with the program director (Evelyn Román Lazén).
I also introduced the students to computer programming using IDL. Under my initiative the Hayden program acquired the Small Radio Telescope (SRT, see picture to the left) kit and I assembled the radio telescope (with the help of teachers and students from the program) on the roof of Frederick Douglas Academy (a public high school in Harlem). I used the telescope to teach astronomy to Hayden students from all over the city and a small group of students used it for their research project. In addition, I served as research advisor to three different groups of high school students in the program who carried out different research projects.



Current Outreach Activities

  I am working with people at Yale’s Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium and Yale’s Peabody Natural Science Museum to design and build a cart with demonstrations about light, the electromagnetic spectrum and multi-wavelength astronomy that will become part of the Peabody museum exhibitions and will be operated and interpreted by students.

   I the near future I will help expand the existing free after-school program at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History called EVOLUTIONS (EVOking Learning and Understanding Through Investigations Of the Natural Sciences) to include hands-on curricula and research experience in astronomy and astrophysics.