What's gonna work? Teamwork!
The title of this blog post is borrowed from the Backyardigans.
We recently hosted the Midwest Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics. It was an enormous success, and the positive feedback just keeps on coming.
Three things made this event great:
- The participants. They were engaged, enthused and actively participated to make the conference wonderful. And many of them were willing to travel long distances to be part of this event.
- The speakers and panelists. We really had an all-star lineup of women who have done and are doing amazing things in a variety of different school and career paths. Ever talk and panel was one for the books.
- The volunteers. That’s what this post is about.
Conference logistics are like referees in basketball. If nobody notices, then you did a good job. In our case, nobody noticed. Actually, if anything, they noticed how well we did.
We had more than 20 student volunteers helping to run the conference. In addition to things you’d expect like check-in and running errands, we did a few things that really made the conference special. We had chaperones lead walking groups to and from the hotels. This kept everybody together, nobody got lost and everybody stayed safe on a big campus after dark. We had student volunteers leading groups to their lab tours so they stayed on time and found the right lab. We had volunteers leading students to the lunch facilities we had throughout the building. And, very importantly, we also had student volunteers making liquid nitrogen ice cream!!
We had to fit almost 300 people into Loomis Lab. They all fit into our big lecture hall, but it takes some real planning and effort to find places for all of them to eat lunch and get coffee. And it all worked, thanks to our student organizers and volunteers. And this wasn’t a “girls only” effort!
Thanks to our volunteers! You did us very proud!
After the conference was over, we had all of the volunteers over for a “thank you” pizza party. You can see some pictures below. It was big fun, and folks were even trading the now famous “Women in Physics” trading cards!!