After having considered a visit several years ago, my wife & sister-in-law & I finally signed up for a free public tour of the Argonne National Laboratory science facilities on a Saturday morning in April. From my first contact with their Manager of Community Relations to our cordial greeting at the visitor center to our in-depth 3-hour guided tour (by bus & on foot), we were treated as valued visitors & led through a behind-the-scenes look at the advanced research being done with the state-of-the-art tools spread across the ANL campus southwest of Chicago. Being a secure facility, you have to call ahead for tour reservations & bring along a valid photo ID so you can be badged for your escorted tour. But the process is painless & well worth what amazing things you'll see inside.
Our two tour guides were retired science educators, whose skills in explaining the science in layman's terms provided us & the other members of the tour (including an enthusiastic group of undergraduate physics students from the Missouri University of Science & Technology) with many facts & anecdotes related to the nuclear research and development that ANL has supported since 1946. The tour guides were both very friendly & encouraged visitor interaction, including a chance to engage with an Argonne Labs research scientist who explained his on-going project inside the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS) linear accelerator facility which we had the chance to see up close during our tour. Our tour also included a visit to & explanation of ANL's Advanced Photon Source (APS) with its huge particle accelerator storage ring and dozens of target beam steering extensions. The tour ended in their Nuclear Energy Exhibition Hall, where our guide told us about ANL's continuing contributions to nuclear energy research & industrialization of nuclear power.
I would strongly recommend scheduling a tour of ANL for inquisitive adults as well as for teenaged students who have an interest in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The people & the facilities & the world-class research at Argonne will make you proud to be supporting this national treasure.
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