Experimental Physics Research Academy

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July 7 - July 27, 2019

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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.



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Morning lectures include 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.

In the afternoons, students break out into special interest groups, including, but not limited to: non-Newtonian fluids, radio astronomy, high-energy physics, alternative energies, cloud chambers, and quantum phenomena, to engage in experimental laboratory work.

Throughout the program, students will learn to build sensing circuits to determine the speed of light, will visit an automotive museum to gain insight into inertia and mechanics, and will visit a local amusement park to collect and analyze data documenting the acceleration of roller coasters, culminating in small group presentations in which students present their findings.

See this program’s 2018 syllabus (PDF).

Prerequisites: Previous physics experience is encouraged, though not required.


Peter Harnish

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.

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3440 Market Street, Suite 100
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(215) 898-7326

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