What is Plasma Physics?

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Science Teacher Day

What is Science
Teacher Day?

Workshop Descriptions

Plasma Science Expo

What is Plasma
Science Expo?

General Public Science Expo

General Information

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Workshop Descriptions

Science Teachers Day – Tuesday, November 6, 2018


All teachers will attend one of the Plasma 101 courses: Introduction to Fusion Energy and Plasma Sciences. Teachers will be directed to attend the workshop suitable for their general teaching level (middle school or high school).  Although the fundamental information in every Plasma 101 workshop is the same, different grade-relevant activities are emphasized. 

PLASMA 101: Introduction to Fusion Energy and Plasma Sciences
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
Recommended for High School Teachers (and Middle School Teachers interested in enrichment)

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
Recommended for Middle and High School Teachers

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 and Don Correll, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Dan Burns, Los Gatos High School
Recommended for Middle and High School Teachers
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.

Understanding Newton's Laws: Achieving a balance of forces
Presenters: Edward Thomas, Physics Department, Auburn University and Jeremiah Williams, Physics Department, Wittenberg University
Recommended for Middle School Teachers and High School Teachers

Newton's three laws of motion serve as the foundation for the development of physics. Even with the great advances in modern physics, such as quantum mechanics or relativity, the vast majority of our interactions with the physical world are well described using Newton's laws. One aspect of Newton's laws that is particularly important to both science and engineering is the ability to achieve an equilibrium — a state where the forces acting on the system are balanced. Concepts that will be examined include gravitational forces, electric forces, and drag forces.

Teaching Plasma Physics Through Classroom Demos
Presenters: Adrew Seltzman, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Recommended for Middle and High School Teachers
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 or charged particles that react to magnetic fields.

Spectra's Energetic Escape, Physics Through Comics:
Recommended for Middle School Teachers
This workshop will focus on types of energy and how they transform from one type to another. Students will learn about coupled pendulums, energy transfer in bouncy balls, friction, and pinwheels while helping normal middle school superhero Lucy Hene, aka Spectra, win tickets to see The Free Radicals in concert. Come learn about how to merge comic books with physics to fully engage your classes in both reading and hands on science. You can find out how Spectra and company use physics and laser powers to escape from the accidental death trap set by Nolan R. Gibbs (N.R.G.)