Physics done differently on Girls‘ and Boys‘ Day

„I think I want to work here!“ „I didn’t think it would be so interesting.“ „A great day!“ The participants of this year’s MPSD Girls‘ and Boys‘ Day really got down to fundamental physics – and clearly enjoyed themselves in the process. For the ten girls and three boys, it was a day of experimenting with much scope for putting their knowledge from school to practical uses. 

All the groups managed to produce atomically thin graphene flakes just be using sticky tape. The students measured and calculated the transmission speeds of light and a range of signals. They built small motors from magnets and batteries and explored how light is refracted by different prisms. In between they asked lots of questions regarding the experiments themselves but also about the day-to-day work of the researchers leading their groups.

“It was really great, especially because we were able to really experience what we are learning theoretically in school right now,” said participant Paulina Tomczak later. Isabel Ortiz was equally enthused: “It’s given me a totally different impression of physics. All the scientists were really nice and helpful and they explained everything so well that we understood it. I admired their passion for their work very much. All in all I can say that I am definitely cleverer now than I was before!”

For the MPSD team, too, it was a stimulating and happy exchange with the children. Gunda Kipp, Sivasruthi Kesavan, Alaa Akkoush, Gabriele Tauscher, Guido Meier und Friedjof Tellkamp had put great effort into the experiments to make them interactive and appropriate for the participants’ educational level. And it paid off. The students got far closer to the sometimes abstract subject of physics, making it tangible and relevant, with much obvious joy and amazement during the experiments.

Hopefully the Girls’ and Boys’ Day participants returned to school afterwards with a lasting interest in physics, research and the natural sciences. And perhaps it’s not their last stay at the MPSD, because some of the students could now imagine pursuing a scientific career – like Jonas Lange: “It was an amazing and interesting day. After today I would consider working and researching at the Max Planck Institute in the future.”

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