BATAVIA, Illinois – There’s still time to register online for the next session of the Saturday Morning Physics Program for area high school students, beginning Saturday, March 11 at 9 a.m. at the Department of Energy’s Fermilab. The nine-week session, which is free to students, includes presentations by distinguished Fermilab scientists on topics ranging from an introduction to particle physics; to relativity and quantum mechanics; to cosmology; to matter and anti-matter. There are also tours of experimental areas in the laboratory.
High school students can apply online through Friday at: http://www-ppd.fnal.gov/smp-w/ — scroll down the column on the left side of the screen, and click on “Student’s Application Form.” The program is limited to 100 students.
Saturday Morning Physics was founded in 1980 by then-Fermilab director Leon Lederman; physicist Drasko Jovanovic directed the program until retiring in 1997. Roger Dixon, Head of Fermilab’s Accelerator Division, and Erik Ramberg, Test Beam Coordinator for Experimental Physics Projects, have been co-directors since 1997.
While lectures grow from the science practiced at Fermilab, from accelerators to quantum theory, they are always illustrated with connections to everyday life. “Saturday Morning Physics does not pretend to rigorously ‘teach’ a subject such as quantum mechanics in a single two-hour lecture,” said Dixon. “Instead, our lecturers strive to convey the excitement of the subject, so the students will leave the lecture wanting to know more. The best outcome is for a student to make a decision to pursue science as a career. The next-best outcome is for a student to leave the program feeling that science is a very worthwhile activity.”
Saturday Morning Physics students come from approximately 80 high schools throughout the region, although students have arrived from as far away as Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin. The program is free to students, and instructors volunteer their time. Many SMP graduates have chosen science and technology careers, but Ramberg sees important benefits for all students. “Our goal is to further their appreciation of science,” Ramberg said. “We give these kids the opportunity to see how high-level research is done. We hope to contribute to a wider perspective for them. It’s a way to reach out to their parents and to the community.”
Throughout the program’s history, the students’ outlook has remained remarkably constant. “They’re just the best kids,” Ramberg said. “They’re always focused on what you’re saying. They ask the most incredible questions. They’re fun to teach. In fact, it’s ridiculous how exciting it can be.”
Fermilab is a Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory, operated under contract by Universities Research Association, Inc.