Citadel Physics Department makes virtual learning into a physical reality for high school students

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Photo: Physics professor Kaelyn Leake, Ph.D., leading cadets and high school students through The Citadel Applied Physics Experience.

There’s a big difference between knowing the equations that explain gravitational forces and actually being hit in the head by an apple.

One is theoretical, and the other is a real-world effect of those theories.

Working to help high school students bridge the divide between physics equations and physical events: The Citadel’s Department of Physics.

Faculty and cadets in the department are working with high school students three times a year through The Citadel Applied Physics Experience. It’s a virtual, but still hands-on, “class” that teaches high school students about physics and expands their knowledge of the study’s practical applications.

“The goal of our Citadel Applied Physics Experience is to help high school students understand that physics is more than theory, through tactile experiences demonstrating real-world uses,” said Hank Yochum, Ph.D., head of the Department of Physics. “We don’t want to just tell students why physics is important — we want to demonstrate and discuss. It’s a chance to build something together, even via Zoom in the COVID environment, and to talk about how and why it works.”

Cadets help guide high school students in breakout sessions during The Citadel Applied Physics Experience

The department is currently accepting registrations for both the spring and summer sessions, after having kicked off the program in the fall semester. Faculty and cadets in the Department of Physics will continue to hold events like this three times a year — in both semesters and during the summer.

The experience is not limited to certain high schools. Physics faculty members will send a kit, for the hands-on portion, to registered students — so anyone who can receive mail can participate. Any student can participate regardless of STEM background.

Current Citadel cadets and faculty will help the high school students assemble a light-seeking, biology inspired robot that looks a lot like a bug.

The next Applied Physics Experience will be held on Saturday, April 3 from 1 to 5:30 p.m. A two-day summer session is planned for July 8-9.

The event is open to any high school sophomore, junior or senior who enjoys problem solving, science, math and hands-on projects.

The cost for all materials is $20. Space for each session is limited.

To register for the spring session, click here. The deadline for this session is March 12.

To register for the summer session, click here. The deadline for this session is June 15.