Outreach Program’s Innovations Include Traveling Van for Quantum Education

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Offering a number of different means of reaching out, researchers create opportunities for impactful, cross-institutional engagement with students and others through an initiative at the Center for Quantum Networks (CQN), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at the University of Arizona.


A notable example of CQN’s innovative community engagement, which operates as Sparking Curiosity in Quantum Science (SPARCQS), was reaching thousands of mall visitors through its participation in Experience STEAM, a program held at the Mall of America in Minnesota. Mall visitors of all ages engaged in hands-on activities which communicated science and engineering to participants from a variety of backgrounds in both English and Spanish.


Expanding the range of a traditional outreach program, one of the modalities of SPARCQS is a mobile quantum laboratory bringing “hands-on” quantum science experiences directly to schools and communities. While traditional outreach initiatives largely rely on the participants coming to the providers to be educated and thus are often limited to urban populations, the idea behind the SPARCQS mobile lab is to facilitate meaningful outreach that does exactly that—it reaches out.

To access remote populations, including isolated Native American reservations in rural Arizona, CQN developed a SPARCQS mobile lab in the form of a 6’x10’ van. Promotional material was designed to be visibly diverse and inclusive. SPARCQS stickers feature a variety of characters and show the diverse next-generation quantum engineering workforce SPARCQS aims to foster.