Littlebrook’s 2nd-grade students recently traveled to the Institute for Advanced Studies and received a lesson on black holes from center director Robbert Dijkgraaf. Upon arrival, students teachers, and chaperones were ushered them into Fuld Hall where Albert Einstein had an office for over 20 years.
There they were formally welcomed by Michael Klompus, Chief Human Resource Officer. Michael asked the students what their favorite subjects were and reeled them in by continuing, "What if you could study your favorite subject with no interruptions or expectations... with the most brilliant minds from all over the world... with guidance from the greatest mentors from all over the world? That's exactly what happens here!"
The group split into two groups led by two of IAS’s own brilliant thinkers, Govind Menon (father of Kedar, Littlebrook 2nd grader attending the field trip) and Sylvie Joye. Govind led half the children upstairs in Fuld Hall to the Mathematics Library to view the nearly 6,000 books, some containing works from over a hundred years ago and many published in different languages.
Meanwhile, Sylvie led the other group through the Historical Studies and Social Sciences Library (built in the '60s). There she highlighted Einstein's globe, in German, published works from current IAS scholars, and the compactors to help house the over 100,000 volumes and nearly a thousand journals.
The groups switched libraries so they could experience the vast difference in content, size, and architecture, then went to the pond – a man-made pond turned natural habitat. In the winter there is a flag system to indicate whether the pond is safe enough to skate on (red means not safe, white means enjoy).
The group later ran up the hill to South Lawn to meet Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor. Robbert shared his knowledge in relatable ways. He attracted their curiosity with discussion of a compass --though not visible, the power of magnetism is strong. Black holes are also not visible because they are mysterious places that not even light can escape. The first image of a black hole was captured with the use of a virtual telescope about the same diameter as earth. The children were filled with wonder and asked Robbert many relevant questions. Afterwords Robbert remarked, "not a typical cross-section of 2nd graders." The students were encouraged to come back and enjoy the trails.
- District News