Monday, February 11, 2008

Physics Trip

Photo caption:
Nobel Prize winner Dr. William Phillips presents to students during the 13th Annual Kaczmarczik Lecture at Drexel University.

On Thursday, February 7th a group of 14 Woodbury students from AP Physics and Honors Chemistry classes took a trip to Drexel University for the 13th Annual Kaczmarczik Lecture. There they were joined with nearly 700 other high school physics students from Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania for what turned out to be a very informative, captivating day, full of many connections to the classroom.

Imagine sitting in a chemistry class wondering how scientists can determine the mass of something as miniscule as a molecule and then actually having the rare opportunity to see a research scientist do it utilizing a mass spectrometer. Or, watching a biophysicist take Newton’s second Law and manipulate it utilizing state of the industry computer animation, to predict the behavior of protein molecules.

These were just a few of the special learning experiences that Woodbury students were exposed to during their day at Drexel’s research laboratories where they spoke directly to some of the nation’s leading researchers.

After touring the research laboratories, students gathered in the main auditorium to listen to Dr.William D. Phillips a 1997 Nobel Prize recipient describe his quest to bring matter to “absolute zero” (-273 Celsius). Dr. Phillips and his team managed to cool matter to within 1 billionth of a degree from absolute zero -- earning them the Nobel Prize in 1997. Dr. Phillips geared his presentation for a high school audience including many captivating demonstrations and animations.

In all, the Kaczmarczik open house and lecture proved to bridge the distance between the classroom and modern real world physics. It was the kind of experience that gets students excited about science.

(Posting submitted by Ms. Cummings, Supervisor of Curriculum & Instruction.)

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