Physics summer camp attracts bright minds

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icon of a calendarJuly 12, 2022

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Physics summer camp attracts bright minds

Oakland University has just completed a pilot Physics College Experience summer program, introducing current high school students and recent high school graduates to quantum physics and research.

There were 20 students who participated in the two-week intensive program organized by Evgeniy Khain, Ph.D., associate professor and Dr. Jyothi Raman, special lecturer, both from the Department of Physics and the College of Arts and Sciences. All the participating students will be juniors, seniors or entering college this fall and have already shown exceptional aptitude in their high school AP calculus and AP physics classes.

“The students in our summer camp are all quite advanced in their academic studies and they came to us from 12 different high schools, mostly from Oakland County,” said Professor Khain. “Our goal has been to expose these students to the revolutionary ideas in physics that were developed in the beginning of the 20th century.”

The June 27-July 8 program focused on Nobel Prize-winning research of five scientists in particular, including work done by Einstein, Rutherford, and Bohr. During the camp sessions, students learned about how objects absorb and emit light. They also dove into discussions regarding mysteries involved with the structure of the atom.

Austin Feng, an 11th grader at Cranbrook Upper School said, “Learning about how electron spin could be used as a current was fascinating for me.”

Likewise, Ishani Modi, a junior at Cranbrook Kingswood, said, “I enjoyed learning about the progression of our understanding of the atom.” Many other students in the class also cited their favorite part of the camp as learning new information about the evolving models of the atom.

Claire Swadling, a Canton High School graduate going to Harvard this fall, mentioned how she is interested in pursuing physics in college and thought this camp would be a great way to gain exposure to quantum physics, a topic not covered by her high school coursework. She went on to outline how the camp met those expectations because she was able to learn how quantum mechanics fills in the gaps that can’t be explained by classical physics.

Another goal of the program was to expose the students to scientific research being done by OU Physics faculty and discuss possible research opportunities for high school students in the coming academic year.

Janhavi Tonge, who will be an 11th-grader at Troy High School this fall said, “I was looking for research opportunities and found Professor Khain’s research website. After a great conversation about his work, particularly in biophysics, I wanted to attend this camp to expand my knowledge and learn more.”

Ian Pahuja, a Birmingham Seaholm class of 2024 student said, “This camp stood out to me because it required AP calculus and physics and I was looking for a summer camp with rigor. It was indeed difficult, and challenged me academically, and it was splendid.”

Om Joshi, who will be a senior at International Academy Central this fall, said that “Hearing about this camp, the concept of being in a college setting and the opportunity to investigate a new aspect of physics was intriguing.” Joshi added, “It was a great opportunity since the camp was offered for free and gave me the ability to build connections with like-minded physics students. I couldn’t pass it up.”

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