Throughout the school year, TSRC scientists volunteer for Pinhead Institute’s Scholars in the Schools program to lead
labs, experiments, and workshops for K-12 students. This Pinhead program enables roughly 5,000 students from rural
communities throughout the region to work closely with international PhD scientists.
Ron Estler, TSRC Science Advisory Board Chair, Colorado Professor of the Year 2009 awardee, and Professor
of Chemistry at Fort Lewis College in Durango, deserves recognition for his oustanding contributions to Pinhead
Institute’s Scholars in the Schools Program for grades K-12 and Punk Science annually since 2010.
Joan-Emma Shea, University of California, Santa Barbara Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Professor of
Physics, participated in Pinhead Institute Scholars in the Schools program in December 2012. She taught students
about proteins and the important role they play our bodies and in disease.
Rigoberto Hernandez of Georgia Institute of Technology engaged Telluride and Ouray high school students in
discussions surrounding chemistry and physics in October 2012. From gas laws to diffusion to phase transitions
and chemical reactions, Dr. Hernandez brought some of the most complicated chemistry to an understandable and
relevant level, relating these sophisticated concepts to students’ lives.
John Straub, Professor of Chemistry at Boston University and Past-President of TSRC, has led the rocking Telluride
Academy/Pinhead summer camp “Blast Off!” since 2011, as well as the Pinhead Punk Science rocket demonstrations
annually since 2007. In February 2011, he gave his famed, “A Lively Tour of the Periodic Table,” with explosions,
demonstrations, and a music video to 700 K-12 students from Telluride, Naturita, Norwood, Ouray, and Ridgway
School. Straub reached all 1800 regional students in five school districts, in five different “Lively Tour” presentations in
the fall of 2005 and winter of 2006, and was called back in 2009 by popular demand.
Susan DeSensi, Boston University, presented “The Secret Life of Glue: Bouncy Balls & Goober Goo” with fun
demonstrations and interactive experiments, to 160 students 1st through 7th grades at Nucla and Telluride schools in
March of 2009 and multiple Punk Science demonstrations. Susan was brought to Telluride by John Straub.
Joseph Francisco, Professor of Chemistry at Purdue University and Past-President of ACS participated in the
Pinhead Scholars in the Schools program in Spring 2013 and May 2008. He gave talks on the chemistry of the
atmosphere and impact of pollutants on climate change. Francisco’s clear-thinking lecture style allowed students to
understand climate change at a deeper level.
David Coker, Boston University Chemisty Professor, presented a demonstration of “The Science of Steam” at the
Telluride Mountain School to all first grade through eleventh grade students. This was the first all school assembly
presesnted by Pinhead Institute at the Mountain School and it was tremendously well received. Coker’s sense of
humor and drama caught the attention of the teachers as well as students.
Scott Tenenbaum, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics,
University at Albany-SUNY, visited four regional school districts and presented two lectures, “Demystifying Genetics”
and “Eugenics” in the winter of 2007. Tenenbaum’s honest and frank discussions caught the attention of even the
most recalcitrant teenagers.
Kieron Burke, University of California, Irvine, Professor of Heretical Physics and Chemistry, presented quantum
mechanics to the regional middle/high school students freshingly using a blackboard, tennis balls, and a cardboard
box, rather than powerpoint. And as is usual with this subject matter, some students went away with their heads
hurting from the mind blowing ideas, while others clambered to learn more. He also spoke with students in classroom
settings, and presented chaos theory games to 7th graders.