Earlier this year, the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS), inspired by the idea of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015), decided to mark November 10th as IAPS School Day. The School Day was a world-wide event initiated to promote physics among schoolchildren and it provided an opportunity for them to be part of the International Year of Light. One of the goals of this international event was to invoke interest in physics among pupils. As a result, schoolchildren from ages 13 to 18 were motivated to take an interest in physics, and some even had the possibility to do some experiments themselves!
More than six countries participated, including Germany, Italy, Canada, Denmark, Turkey and FYR Macedonia. Physics students visited high schools and presented light and light-based technologies to pupils. Students would visit a school class with experiments they had prepared before. Depending on the pupils’ knowledge of the subject, experiments were about lenses or music transmission with light, just to name two examples. The experiments shown to the pupils, as well as their physical explanations, were entirely carried out by physics students.
Aside from organising school visits, physics students also invited entire classes to universities, where they could take a firsthand look into the science taught there. This format allowed for the organisation of lab tours, which usually have an inspiring effect themselves.
Some IAPS members, like the METU Physics Society in Ankara, decided to take a more interactive approach to introduce people to light-based technology, by organising a laser maze tournament, a chess-like board game.
All participants left with a newly discovered enthusiasm and a better understanding of not only light, but also of physics, and were keen to learn more about sciences.
This IYL 2015 School Day was a unique event organised by IAPS! Each individual activity of the event was thought of and organised by local physics students, while IAPS was in charge of the overall execution with support in the form of suggested activities, grants, and promotion.
The network of IAPS is spread all over the world. National physical societies, as well as local committees, such as student unions, can become members. As of now, IAPS has a community that includes 26 committees and an even higher number of individual members, who don’t have a local or national committee in their region of residence.
Through the idea of the International Year of Light, IAPS School Day has successfully connected hundreds of people of different interests and levels of understanding of science. It showed that, no matter our differences, everyone can enjoy the physics of light.
With the help of our wonderful members, the first outreach project from IAPS was an excellent introduction to the realization of many new student projects and ideas.
The Executive Committee of IAPS would like to thank all its members who participated in this successful and innovative event! We are looking forward to having you join for a next event like this.
Sabrina Gronow is a master students at the university of Heidelberg, Germany. After being an active member of the young German Physical Society (jDPG), she is now also Secretary of the International Association of Physics Students IAPS. One of her goals is to promote physics among the public, and pupils especially.