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Programs Starting a Physics Club

  1. Mar 1, 2016 #1
    I'm planning to start a physics and astronomy club at my high school my junior year (next year). I have an idea of who I can collect to the club, but before I bring it up to the school, I need some ideas for the club. Should there be activities, like building a mini particle accelerator, or a hoverboard? I've been thinking of some "facts" we could share such as "myths people take for granted about the universe", but all in all I really need some advice. I really want this to be a great club, but I have limited knowledge in this field. I've accumulated varying information from various sources, mainly from reading, and I'm planning on learning more, but I'm mainly worried about the club itself. Yes, we could brainstorm ideas as the club wears on, but to start off, I need some activities we could do as a whole to get others to flock to the club. I'd really appreciate it if ideas of all kinds are presented.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 1, 2016 #2
    If you have a university nearby, see if you can get some students from a physics organization--APS, AIP, etc.-- from that school to give a presentation. Many student chapters of these organizations do outreach and would be glad to talk about what they study.
  4. Mar 3, 2016 #3
    Something I've started as President of the Society of Physics Students at my university is doing technical trainings.
    -- Easiest is things like learning Linux and Python or C++/ROOT, by easiest I mean doesn't require funds or external help (other than finding someone who knows this enough to teach it, or can learn). We have weekly programming workshops where we learn how to model physical systems using code, and then plotting stuff. Python is actually pretty good at it.
    -- A local college or observatory might be willing to teach people how to use a fancy telescope, I worked with a prof. at my school to do this.
    -- Same as above, but for Scanning Electron Microscopy - you'll likely have to go to a prof. at a local school to get guidance on that, since I doubt the average high school has one.
    -- We also bring in speakers every other week or so, to talk about their research, or how to start research, or what being a physicist is like, etc.
    -- Some universities have summer physics/STEM programs for high school students. Learning about those and promoting that could be useful to those interested.
    -- Building a magnetic levitator is completely doable. Might take some background learning in circuits (can work with another club on that?), but not a whole lot to follow an online guide.

    For background, all the things I mentioned, it was mostly freshmen doing this stuff. Basically no knowledge other than high school physics, though for most of the above you don't even need that. And there's been a lot of interest - after I became President our org has had a culture in it growing steadily - I always make the connection between what they're learning/doing now and what people do in advanced physics research. So people don't do stuff that seems useless.

    Good luck!
  5. Jan 8, 2017 #4
    Online there are many great resources for physics projects, you can learn a lot and really don't need much prior knowledge to complete them. Getting the parts though for the projects will require some work, and perhaps a little bit of fundraising as well.

    Perhaps you could start with something simple and cool that you find online (just search physics projects on youtube). Pick projects that are cheap and easy to find parts for, but have a big wow factor that makes it feel rewarding. At the same time, you could have people in the club start a fundraising campaign for a bigger project, sell science themed cookies or something.

    The next level would be to figure out a project for the club which there is not already a cool youtube video for (maybe there is one already but it is not very good or is boring). This will be much more exciting because your club will feel like its making something new or different than what was done before.

    Of course it's great if you can get connected with some professional or person in a university, but there are plenty of resources online for simple projects which explain all the important parts!

    I think in general a fun and great way to learn something new is to have your goal be making a project which will teach OTHER people about the physics. This could be in the form of a class demo of what your club produces or better yet a website + youtube video explaining in detail the physics your project demos. At the end, you will have a concrete proof of your efforts that will also make you feel less bad about taking apart the project to use as parts for the next one.
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