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Making Physics Fun and a Career Choice

By Brian Kirschner

Katee O’Malley PHY'17 and Oberon Wackwitz PHY'17 want to make physics a fun and interesting experience for students at West Catholic High School. But they also want these future college students to start thinking about a career in the field they love.

Armed with a grant from the Society of Physics Students, the two physics majors along with eight other physics students and their advisor, associate professor Dr. Roberto Ramos, visited a West Catholic Preparatory High School engineering class on April 21, 2016, with a host of experiments and hands-on experiences.

"We are hoping to spark a little bit of interest in physics," said O'Malley, who serves as the treasurer/secretary for USciences Physics Club, said. "We want to show how fun and rewarding physics is and that these students could have a future in physics."

The outreach program had several physics demonstrations broken into six fundamentals of physics stations: phases of matter, electricity, light and optics, waves, thermodynamics, and projectile motion. Individual experiments will use liquid nitrogen, non-Newtonian fluids, a VanderGraff generator, infinity mirrors and more.

O'Malley and Wackwitz conceived of the idea for the event and the experiments with encouragement from Dr. Ramos. And while the $500 grant by the Society of Physics Students is an outreach event targeted to get minority students interested in physics, O'Malley said they hope to engage other students in the future if all goes well.

"When the event is over, we will invite the class to visit campus and see the academic side," O'Malley said. "Since we will now have the materials, we can branch out and see where it goes with other schools."

Categories: News, Feature Story, Faculty, Students, Academics, Community, Misher College, Department of Mathematics, Physics