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Physics Inside Out

Middle school students at Purdue

Physics Inside Out draws from contributions of Physics and Astronomy faculty, and the creative design of Outreach Coordinator, Dr. David Sederberg. The week-long summer program, enriches students in the diverse world of physics. Going beyond traditional curricula, Physics Inside Out engages middle school students with applications and innovations in physics principles and scientific research.

One of the goals of Physics Inside Out is introducing students to the tools of research and state of the art experimental procedures. For example, below, Xuhui Zhou from Professor Pyrak-Nolte's research group is assisting students in a microfluidics experiment in which they are spin coating an aluminum plate, upon which they will place a drop of water and then apply a voltage. Students analyze their results to learn more about how tiny amounts of fluids can be manipulated with electrostatic charge.


Students doing a microfluidics experiment Student measuring contact angles on a computer

In Physics Inside Out, students learn by doing and creating. Each morning and afternoon session includes a short tech talk, an orientation into a research-based or general interest topic in the amazing world of physics. Below, a student is fabricating an electric motor, and then photographed his motor in infrared to observe areas of greatest transmission of heat.

Student fabricating an electric motor Motor photographed in infrared light

Common topics in Physics Inside Out are light and heat. In the images below, Professor Tongcang Li (top) works with a student to set up her experiment using a laser to measure angles of reflection, refraction, and total internal reflection. Professor Rudro Biswas (bottom photo) guides a student in making a thermometer that functions based on the expansion of air.

Student with experiment Student making a thermometer

Physics Inside Out students also learn about the personal side of science from the lives of real scientists. Presenting faculty and graduate student staff offer their accounts by telling their story; how they became interested in science, factors leading to their inspiration, and the pathways by which they are seeking their careers.

Physics Inside Out is held on the campus of Purdue and offers students a glimpse into college surroundings and campus life. Students have the opportunity to tour facilities like the France Cordova Recreational Center and are provided lunches in campus dining courts. They may also tour research facilities like the Birck Nanotechnology Center, Bindley Bioscience Center, the PRIME Lab particle accelerator, or Purdue's own PUR1 nuclear reactor.

Register for 2020

Note: for students entering grades 7 and 8 for fall 2020.

Physics Inside Out is funded in part by the National Science Foundation grant DMR-1610139.

Selected lessons and activities

For additional information, please contact:

David Sederberg
Director of Physics & Astronomy Outreach

Last Updated: Feb 7, 2020 10:23 AM

Department of Physics and Astronomy, 525 Northwestern Avenue, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2036 • Phone: (765) 494-3000 • Fax: (765) 494-0706

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