Posted by Sanjiv Prabhakaran on Oct 11, 2019
We had our honorary member Heinz Hoenecke give a quick update about his global programs. We also had few other guests. Paul gave an update about the Foundation and reminded everyone about the 46th Annual Foundation Seminar on November 9, 2019.
Jan Parsons gave her 1-minute talk about why she joined Rotary and how she appreciates the friendships built through Rotary. Following that Ken gave a quick update on the BocceFest final numbers and that the Thank You notes were sent out to all players.
## Dr. Shawn Carlson's LabRats Education Program:

Dr. Shawn Carlson is a physicist and an educator who works to make the scientific process less mystifying and more comprehensible to nonscientists. Carlson is the executive director of the Society for Amateur Scientists and an adjunct professor in physics at San Diego State University. He has authored and edited a number of CD-ROMs that explore core concepts in physics and problem-solving techniques.

Shawn Carlson received a B.S. (1981) from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. (1989) from the University of California, Los Angeles.


In 1994, Carlson founded the Society for Amateur Scientists, which identifies opportunities for curious amateurs to investigate important, but as yet unsolved, scientific questions and to provide a forum for the organization of amateur research projects. As author of the “Amateur Scientist” column for the Scientific American, Carlson features innovative and inexpensive designs for equipment and experiments that amateurs can use to explore current research questions. Finally, he moved to San Diego and then in 2016 he started the Lab Rats program ( so kids can be part of a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) program.

He says that once kids get to the 8th grade their interest in science plummets. Hence it is crucial to get them excited about STEM and at an early stage. He therefore starts kids at LabRats from 5th grade all the way to 8th grade. He incorporates 3 spheres of engagements - Self, Custodial and Social engagement. Key aspects of the LabRats program are:

  • Create groups for girls and boys to engage in projects with their own peers
  • He believes in small classrooms with 1-on-1 engagement and not 1 teacher lecturing a class of 30 kids.
  • Character development is one of the KEY focus
  • The program is taught by science experts that have a Masters and PhD degrees
  • Their STEAM center is in Encinitas at the Boys & Girls Club
  • They now also have a Mobile STEAM bus so they can go to the schools and create programs on-site for the kids
He showed everyone a special tool (a unique rock millions of years old) used by people in the early days as a multi-purpose tool. The artifact we brought was a 500,000 year old Acheulian biface created by the Neanderthal people in Southern France. He said there are only 103 such stones in the world and he has 3 of them that he received from France.
His colleague Ryan Merrill, Director of Education, who teaches at LabRats demonstrated a device that creates a certain static electric field through a human's body and one can see the hair stand up. Our club's Vice President Vicky Mallet volunteered to be the subject.
Dr. Carlson indicated that they are planning a big campus to grow the program. Currently they have about 600+ students go through their programs and it costs on average about $10 per student.
At the end, DMSB Club President Venky Venkatesh presented the speaker with the Joshua certificate that represents our club DMSB donating school supplies to schools in Malawi in the name of the speaker.