The Experimental Physics Academy focuses on modern physics, specifically mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum dynamics and astrophysics, with an aim to provide hands-on experience and laboratory work within Penn’s vast research facilities. With time to experiment with advanced hardware and settings, students move past memorized equations to gain an understanding of cause and effect, and ultimately an appreciation of physics on a higher level.
If you attend a School District of Philadelphia public or charter high school, you may be eligible to attend a Penn Summer Academy free of charge with a Penn Summer Scholarship.
Academy now full and closed to non-Philadelphia School District students.
Lectures and discussions: Attend morning classes and conversations on topics as varied as kinematics, geometric optics, Newton’s laws, physical optics, Ohm’s law, energy conservation, Einstein’s Special Relativity, computational physics, wave-particle duality, Plank’s constant, and the speed of sound and light.
Lab access: Focus your studies with afternoon breakout groups to explore and engage in experimental laboratory work in areas such as non-Newtonian fluids, radio astronomy, high-energy physics, alternative energies, cloud chambers, and quantum phenomena.
Hands-on practice: Learn to build sensing circuits to determine the speed of light, gain insight into inertia and mechanics at an automotive museum, visit a local amusement park to collect and analyze data documenting the acceleration of roller coasters, and share your findings in small group presentations.
Prerequisites: Previous physics experience is encouraged, though not required.
Program Director: Peter Harnish Peter Harnish is the Undergraduate Lab Manager for the Department of Physics and Astronomy, where he designs and runs the first- and second-year physics labs. While his physics experience includes theoretical graphene research and experimental quantum optics, his vocation has always been toward teaching, both collegiately and through museum education and Scouting programs.