|Mark Lentz spent his high school days living on a farm in Pickering, LA, a rural community bordering Fort Polk Army Base in the northern section of the state. He was a member of the powerlifting, track and football teams, and also belonged to the Future Business Leaders America (FBLA) and Future Farmers of America (FFA). While his extracurricular activities kept him quite busy, much of his time was spent doing "chores" on the farm. He was president of his high school senior class, and graduated wiith honors in 1996.
Mark enrolled in college at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and decided to major in Physics just to see what it was like. While he couldn't think of one specific thing that he wanted to learn, he had been told that Physics wasn't necessarily about learning formulas and large involved equations, but rather about how to think about situations. That was exactly what he wanted to learn--how to think. As his classes grew more involved in content, his interests and involvement also grew, and he decided to add a math degree to his curriculum. The intellectually stimulating conversations that he had with classmates and professors before, during, and after his classes were exactly the kind of "brain candy" he had been looking for. At the suggestion of one of his physics professors, Dr. Gary White, he got involved in the Society of Physics Students (SPS).
Mark's involvement in SPS chapter activities was low-key at first. He would basically listen to what other members in the chapter were working on, such as presentations, outreach programs, and papers. It was with the united chapter effort of organizing and hosting an SPS Zone Meeting that his involvement grew. From this experience and with the immense support of his chapter advisor, Dr. White, he got involved in physics and science outreach projects. His involvement in his chapter's outreach activities have turned out to be some of the most rewarding experiences he's had. The positive feedback, thank you's and complements that he's received from students, teachers and fellow classmates after having given an outreach presentation have been quite moving and very inspiring. When he first got involved in these projects, he had no idea that they would have such a positive impact in so many ways. His involvement in outreach programs also played a large part in his being selected as an SPS Intern at the American Institute of Physics (AIP).
While at AIP, Mark worked with SPS staff to develop Science Outreach Catalyst Kits (SOCKs) to be used by chapters that want to become more involved in physics outreach. He also gathered content and worked with SPS staff as a consultant on the SPS web site, and helped establish an SPS alumni directory and database.