Science Teacher Day

Science Teacher Days

Saturdays: November 7 and 14, 2020

Registration Closed
*Space is limited

Science Teacher Day is an event of free professional development workshops for teachers to learn about plasma physics and fusion research and ways to incorporate plasma lessons and activities in the classroom. These "real-life" topics, seldom found in conventional classroom discussions or in school textbooks, provide tools to help teachers inspire students to understand the research challenges of plasma science and related applications. The workshop presentations, handouts, and classroom resource materials are designed especially for middle and high school teachers and targeted to satisfy state and national standards.

Read more:
Why Teach Plasma Physics?


Agenda

This year, Science Teacher Days are VIRTUAL!
Workshops will be presented via Zoom and include plasma science demonstrations suitable for remote activities. Teachers will receive workshop materials in advance.

All teachers will begin Day 1 by attending a Plasma 101 course: Introduction to Fusion Energy and Plasma Sciences. Teachers will then attend additional workshops in their Middle or High school track.  All the times are Central times.

Click to view Agenda (PDF format)

Day 1 - November 7 Middle School High School
8:30am — 8:50am Welcoming Remarks Welcoming Remarks
9:00am — 10:30am Workshop Session 1 PLASMA 101: Introduction to Fusion Energy and Plasma Sciences Workshop Session 1 PLASMA 101: Introduction to Fusion Energy and Plasma Sciences
10:40am — 11:25am Hands-On Fusion and Plasma Activities
for your Classroom
Presented by: Cheryl Harper and
Sam Lightner (CPEP)
APS PhysicsQuest Classroom Kits
Presented by: James Roche
11:30am - 12:15pm APS PhysicsQuest Classroom Kits
Presented by: James Roche
Hands-On Fusion and Plasma Activities
for your Classroom
Presented by: Cheryl Harper and
Sam Lightner (CPEP)
12:15pm — 1:00pm Brown-bag lunch with plasma/fusion scientists Brown-bag lunch with plasma/fusion scientists
1:00pm — 2:30pm Teaching Plasma Through Classroom Demos
Presented by: Andrew Selztman
The Electromagnetic Spectrum:
How we know what we know about
100,000,000K plasmas
Presented by: Rick Lee
2:40pm — 3:30pm The Electromagnetic Spectrum:
How we know what we know about
100,000,000K plasmas
Presented by: Rick Lee
Teaching Plasma Through Classroom Demos
Presented by: Andrew Selztman
3:30pm - 3:45pm Closing Remarks - Day 1 Closing Remarks - Day 1


Day 2 - November 14 Middle School High School
9:00am - 10:30am Light and the Nature of Matter
Presented by: Steve Allen
Making Fusion Work: Applying crosscutting
concepts for energy solutions and showing
them to your students
Presented by: Steffi Diem and Cami Collins
10:40am - 12:10pm Making Fusion Work: Applying crosscutting
concepts for energy solutions and showing
them to your students
Presented by: Steffi Diem and Cami Collins
Coding Integration into High School Physics and
Physical Sciences
Presented by: Chris Orban
12:10 - 1:00pm Brown-bag lunch with plasma/fusion scientists Brown-bag lunch with plasma/fusion scientists
1:00pm - 2:30pm Closing Remarks - Day 2: Middle School
(1:00pm - 1:15pm)
Light and the Nature of Matter
Presented by: Steve Allen
2:40pm - 3:30pm  APS STEP UP: Careers in Physics
Presented by: Shannon Greco
3:40pm - 4:00pm Closing Remarks - Day 2

Workshop Description and Resources

Middle School

PLASMA 101: Introduction to Fusion Energy and Plasma Sciences
Presenter: Shannon Swilley Greco, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

What is plasma and what makes it so cool? Will fusion as an alternative energy source on earth be a reality in our lifetime? This workshop will introduce you to plasma science as a stepping stone to understanding fusion energy research. Demonstrations and giveaways will bring the excitement of plasma and fusion science into your classroom!
Fusion energy is as old as the universe, yet scientists and engineers have been working to achieve fusion on earth during just the past 65 years. Small-scale fusion on earth has been achieved and is routine in many of today's experimental devices around the world. With an unprecedented international consortium of nations committed to developing the ITER project, we are closer than ever to achieving fusion as a safe and virtually unlimited source of clean energy. This workshop will introduce you to plasma science as a stepping stone to understanding fusion energy research. You will use standard science concepts pulled from atomic structure, gas laws, electricity, and Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2, to explore this rich and fascinating world of fusion science. Demonstrations and giveaways will enable you to bring the excitement of plasma and fusion science into your classroom!

 
Hands-On Fusion and Plasma Activities for your Classroom
Presenters: Cheryl Harper, Greensburg Salem High School; G. Samuel Lightner, Emeritus, Westminster College

Plasma and fusion topics may seem difficult to teach and incorporate in an already packed curriculum. The hands-on activities introduced in this workshop will help your students to learn more about plasma and fusion sciences while reinforcing and extending topics such as light, electricity, and magnetism. Using some commonly available materials and inquiry methods, participants will explore tabletop "fusion," emission spectra from a fluorescent light, and the meaning of voltage and current in plasma. Some basic understanding of nuclear science, electricity, and the origin of electromagnetic radiation will be helpful. The activities in this workshop are primarily for high school students but several have also been adapted for middle school students and these will also be presented in the workshop. Presented by the Contemporary Physics Education Project (CPEP)

 
APS PhysicsQuest Classroom Kits
Presenter: James Roche
 
For over a decade, the PhysicsQuest program has sent hundreds of thousands of educational kits free of charge to middle schools, home school groups, scout troops and anyone else interested in fun, hands-on physics lessons. APS Public Engagement recently received a grant from the Eucalyptus Foundation to expand the program online. James Roche will review the history and future of the program, and train teachers in the latest iteration of the kit, which features basic thermodynamics lessons and introduces students to the life and work of Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu. 
 

Teaching Plasma Physics Through Classroom Demos
Presenters: Andrew Seltzman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

In this workshop, teachers will learn how to illustrate the basic concepts of plasma physics through in-class demos. Exciting experiments for your students will demonstrate how plasma is a different state of matter from ordinary gas, and the resulting properties that allow it to interact with electric and magnetic fields. Plasmas will be shown to be an ionized gas, electrically conductive, and composed of charged particles that react to magnetic fields.
 

The Electromagnetic Spectrum: How we know what we know about 100,000,000K plasmas
Presenters: Rick Lee, General Atomics

The electromagnetic (EM) spectrum is a catch-all phrase that lumps together a particular kind of energy that can travel as waves (or so the model goes…) or can be thought of as particle-like photons.  People rely on the information they receive via these traveling waves, yet many misconceptions are present in students’ and teachers’ mental constructs describing such ‘waves’.  This workshop will answer the question of what is “waving” in an EM wave, how Polaroid glasses work, why there are holes in the door of your microwave oven, what we can tell about a high-temperature plasma (in the lab or in space) based on the characteristics of EM radiation, and more.  An infrared camera will be also be used to illustrate sophisticated detection systems and how EM energy interacts with different material substrates.

 
Light and the Nature of Matter
Presenters: Steve Allen, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

This workshop will present demonstrations and activities that reveal the fundamental nature of light and how light spectroscopy is used to understand astrophysical and fusion plasmas. Applications will be presented, including the use of light as a way to probe matter on an atomic scale. Participants will have ample opportunity to work with equipment including spectrometers. Information about light and spectrometry equipment designed for the high school and middle school science classroom will be provided.
 
Making fusion work: applying crosscutting concepts for energy solutions and showing them to your students
Presenters: Stephanie Diem, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cami Collins, General Atomics

We live in a world mostly surrounded by the familiar states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. But in fact, more than 99% of the visible universe is made of a fourth state of matter called plasma. Plasma can be used for everything from space propulsion to medicine to fluorescent light bulbs, and it may hold the key to humankind’s future energy demand through nuclear fusion. But how can scientists capture plasma ten times hotter than the Sun to create a fusion energy source on Earth? Fusion energy research spans many disciplines, including physics, engineering, computer science, and materials science. In this workshop, you’ll use several hands-on activities to explore the underlying concepts used in fusion research.

High School

PLASMA 101: Introduction to Fusion Energy and Plasma Sciences
Presenters: Rick Lee, General Atomics

What is plasma and what makes it so cool? Will fusion as an alternative energy source on earth be a reality in our lifetime? This workshop will introduce you to plasma science as a stepping stone to understanding fusion energy research. Demonstrations and giveaways will bring the excitement of plasma and fusion science into your classroom!
Fusion energy is as old as the universe, yet scientists and engineers have been working to achieve fusion on earth during just the past 65 years. Small-scale fusion on earth has been achieved and is routine in many of today's experimental devices around the world. With an unprecedented international consortium of nations committed to developing the ITER project, we are closer than ever to achieving fusion as a safe and virtually unlimited source of clean energy. This workshop will introduce you to plasma science as a stepping stone to understanding fusion energy research. You will use standard science concepts pulled from atomic structure, gas laws, electricity, and Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2, to explore this rich and fascinating world of fusion science. Demonstrations and giveaways will enable you to bring the excitement of plasma and fusion science into your classroom!

 
APS PhysicsQuest Classroom Kits
Presenter: James Roche
 
For over a decade, the PhysicsQuest program has sent hundreds of thousands of educational kits free of charge to middle schools, home school groups, scout troops and anyone else interested in fun, hands-on physics lessons. APS Public Engagement recently received a grant from the Eucalyptus Foundation to expand the program online. James Roche will review the history and future of the program, and train teachers in the latest iteration of the kit, which features basic thermodynamics lessons and introduces students to the life and work of Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu. 
 
 
Hands-On Fusion and Plasma Activities for your Classroom
Presenters: Cheryl Harper, Greensburg Salem High School; G. Samuel Lightner, Emeritus, Westminster College
 
Plasma and fusion topics may seem difficult to teach and incorporate in an already packed curriculum. The hands-on activities introduced in this workshop will help your students to learn more about plasma and fusion sciences while reinforcing and extending topics such as light, electricity, and magnetism. Using some commonly available materials and inquiry methods, participants will explore tabletop "fusion," emission spectra from a fluorescent light, and the meaning of voltage and current in plasma. Some basic understanding of nuclear science, electricity, and the origin of electromagnetic radiation will be helpful. The activities in this workshop are primarily for high school students but several have also been adapted for middle school students and these will also be presented in the workshop. Presented by the Contemporary Physics Education Project (CPEP)
 
 
The Electromagnetic Spectrum: How we know what we know about 100,000,000K plasmas
Presenters: Rick Lee, General Atomics
 
The electromagnetic (EM) spectrum is a catch-all phrase that lumps together a particular kind of energy that can travel as waves (or so the model goes…) or can be thought of as particle-like photons.  People rely on the information they receive via these traveling waves, yet many misconceptions are present in students’ and teachers’ mental constructs describing such ‘waves’.  This workshop will answer the question of what is “waving” in an EM wave, how Polaroid glasses work, why there are holes in the door of your microwave oven, what we can tell about a high-temperature plasma (in the lab or in space) based on the characteristics of EM radiation, and more.  An infrared camera will be also be used to illustrate sophisticated detection systems and how EM energy interacts with different material substrates.
 
 
Teaching Plasma Physics Through Classroom Demos
Presenters: Andrew Seltzman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
 
In this workshop, teachers will learn how to illustrate the basic concepts of plasma physics through in-class demos. Exciting experiments for your students will demonstrate how plasma is a different state of matter from ordinary gas, and the resulting properties that allow it to interact with electric and magnetic fields. Plasmas will be shown to be an ionized gas, electrically conductive, and composed of charged particles that react to magnetic fields.
 
 
Making fusion work: applying crosscutting concepts for energy solutions and showing them to your students
Presenters: Stephanie Diem, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cami Collins, General Atomics
 
We live in a world mostly surrounded by the familiar states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. But in fact, more than 99% of the visible universe is made of a fourth state of matter called plasma. Plasma can be used for everything from space propulsion to medicine to fluorescent light bulbs, and it may hold the key to humankind’s future energy demand through nuclear fusion. But how can scientists capture plasma ten times hotter than the Sun to create a fusion energy source on Earth? Fusion energy research spans many disciplines, including physics, engineering, computer science, and materials science. In this workshop, you’ll use several hands-on activities to explore the underlying concepts used in fusion research.
 
 
Coding Integration into High School Physics and Physical Science
Presenters: Prof. Chris Orban, Ohio State University Department of Physics
 
Ever wondered how to integrate a little bit of coding into a high school physics or physical science class without overwhelming your students or taking up lots of class time? This hands on workshop will provide an overview of simple, conceptually-motivated exercises where students construct games like asteroids and angry birds using a free in-browser editor that works great on Chromebooks or whatever devices you have. Importantly, these activities are also described in videos on the STEMcoding youtube channel (http://youtube.com/c/STEMcoding ) for you to review after the workshop or potentially for you to share with your students in class. After working through an introductory activity on kinematics, we will work on a charge repulsion coding activity which helps to explain why scientists use Deuterium and Tritium in fusion experiments instead of Hydrogen. The STEMcoding project is led by Prof. Chris Orban from Ohio State Physics. The STEMcoding project is supported in part by the 2017 AIP Meggers Project Award.
 
 
Light and the Nature of Matter
Presenters: Steve Allen, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
 
This workshop will present demonstrations and activities that reveal the fundamental nature of light and how light spectroscopy is used to understand astrophysical and fusion plasmas. Applications will be presented, including the use of light as a way to probe matter on an atomic scale. Participants will have ample opportunity to work with equipment including spectrometers. Information about light and spectrometry equipment designed for the high school and middle school science classroom will be provided.
 
 
APS STEP UP: Careers in Physics
Presenter: Shannon Swilley Greco, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
 
Shannon Swilley Greco will train teachers in the Careers in Physics lesson, part of the APS STEP UP curriculum. In this lesson, students will explore profiles of individuals with a degree in physics and identify goals that can be accomplished with a physics degree. They will also create their own future career profiles. The goal of the lesson is to help students realize the breadth of careers available with a physics degree and envision how a physics degree would help accomplish many goals. This lesson has been shown to improve students’ future physics intentions (e.g. majoring in physics in college or intending physics-related careers) in classes across the US. Both female and non-female students have positive gains from the lesson. In addition, the overall gains from the lesson across all students are positive (Cheng et al., 2018).