Physics Enrichment Camp 2016

 

The Physics Enrichment Camp is an annual event organised by the NUS Physics Department and NUS Physics Society. The four-day event was attended by secondary school students on 31 May to 1 June, and junior college students on 2 to 3 June. The camp was well-attended, drawing a record high attendance of 618 participants.

 

Students learnt about the latest discoveries and breakthroughs in physics at the camp while gaining a better understanding of NUS Physics’ educational and research programmes.

 

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The participants working intently on the quizzes

 

The theme of the camp lectures focused on the existence of gravitational waves, a recent breakthrough in physics. Gravitational waves are 'ripples' in the fabric of space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the universe. The phenomenon of gravitational waves was first predicted and proposed by Albert EINSTEIN in 1916 in his general theory of relativity, and was confirmed in February 2016. The lengthy period of time involved in proving the concept shows its complexity.

 

Prof Edward TEO gave a talk entitled “Einstein's Legacy: Gravitational waves” which covered the history and physics behind the concept of gravitational waves. In his lecture entitled “Experimental Techniques: Gravitational waves”, Prof Christian KURTSIEFER described the experimentation techniques used in proving the existence of gravitational waves. Both professors delivered interesting and engaging talks which effectively translated the complex concepts into interesting and comprehensible discussion topics for young inquisitive minds.

 

Nano science, another research highlight in the Physics Department, was the topic of the third lecture given by department head, Prof SOW Chorng Haur.

 

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The lectures conducted by Physics faculty members focused on the existence of gravitational waves and nano science

 

The afternoon programme comprised guided tours for small groups to the first and third year teaching laboratories. Participants gained insights on how NUS Physics majors progress from conducting experiments based on fundamental physics concepts to research-grade experiments as they advance through their three years of study.

 

Participants also visited state-of-the-art research facilities. These included the Centre for Ion Beam Applications (CIBA), a multidisciplinary research centre which develops new technologies based on fast protons and ions, and undertakes research into novel applications for proton or ion based technologies; the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT), a Research Centre of Excellence which brings together quantum physicists and computer scientists to explore the quantum nature of reality and the fundamental limits of information processing; the Spintronics and Magnetic Materials Laboratory; and the NUS Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative, which works on nanotechnology solutions to address important issues such as energy, water purification, electronics-sensors and health.

 

The participants were also briefed on some common research facilities, such as the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). Research staff and postgraduate students were present to explain their research activities, address participants’ questions and demonstrate their research equipment.

 

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The participants had the opportunity to visit state-of-the-art research facilities

 

Seven activities based on simple physics concepts were organised by the NUS Physics Society. From designing a diffraction grating based spectrometer from a CD, electromagnetic train to using a telescope, participants experienced hands-on physics coming alive! The Physics Society’s passionate ambassadors played an important role in facilitating the activities and explaining the underlying physics concepts, which sparked the participants’ curiosity and interest.

 

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The interactive activities organised by the NUS Physics Society allowed participants to experience hands-on physics

 

The concluding session of the camp was a quiz based on what had been taught during the camp. Prof Sow delivered a final talk on “Why Physics? Career options after a degree in Physics” on the diverse career pathways open to physics graduates. The announcement of the quiz results was followed by a prize presentation.

 

The event received positive feedback from participants. Many found the lectures interesting and the laboratory visits educational and insightful in showing that physics can be simple and fun.

 

A student shared, “The lecture was fun, with lots of nanoscience demonstrations. I loved it!” Another said, “Einstein is cool!” while others expressed the hope that such camps and lectures would be organised often.