Hair pulled back into a ponytail that reached the small of his back, he wore a purple button-down shirt tucked neatly into a black kilt that swung freely as he stepped his brown cargo boots into Mr. Hamilton’s eighth-grade science class. The physicist had arrived for Inman Middle School’s career day.
“I hope to encourage people who don’t think they could be this,” said Benjamin Jenkins, a senior lab coordinator for the Department of Physics and director of the observatory at the University of West Georgia. “There aren’t any set rules. You don’t have to fit a mold. I want students to say, ‘if this guy can do it looking the way he does, so can I.’”
Monique Martin, eighth-grade school counselor, says Jenkins makes science exciting, and brings what Inman students are learning in the classroom to life.
Jenkins conducted three hands-on demonstrations that explored angular momentum, force and optics. Students then asked questions about his career and science in general.
“I enjoy being able to tell them my particular career path. It’s OK to fall down. I failed my first physics class. It’s OK to have missteps along the way,” Jenkins said. “Even if not a single student became a physicist or an astronomer, I hope to convey that there is usefulness in physics, in the sciences in general.”
Jenkins’ visit to Inman was part of College and Career Motivation Week. He spoke to eighth-grade science classes throughout the day on Nov. 16.