|Public engagement event at a local high school with the Women and Minorities in the Physical Sciences group in graduate school|
By: Brean Prefontaine
I actually started college as an English major with my hopes set on law school. However, it soon became clear that maybe I shouldn’t pay to read the books I was already going to read (and also a field with more job prospects seemed enticing). I was not sure if I wanted to switch to physics, but 20 minutes with the department head convinced me (thank you, Dr. Goldberg, you forever changed my life!). I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and working on astrophysics research. This was okay, but I knew that I really liked working with people more than I liked working with computers. The next project I worked on was through an SPS internship working with the APS Center for History of Physics on creating lesson plans related to women and Black physicists (the project has since been expected to include all sorts of folks – you should check it out here https://www.aip.org/history-programs/physics-history/teaching-guides). I loved this project and I started to really think about physics education. At this point, I had no idea that a field called “physics education research” (PER) existed but I quickly learned about it and was determined to go to graduate school with a PER group.
|At the International Science Festival in NYC with the IceCube collaboration|
Another aspect of informal physics spaces that excites me, is the idea that we can easily combine physics with other interests (both academic and non-academic). During my free time (pre-COVID), I am usually found at an ice rink skating or coaching figure skating. So, lately, I have been working on a research project that looks at how informal spaces can combine physics with interests like figure skating. I am very excited to explore more research possibilities within this idea!
|Combining physics and ice skating at a public engagement event during National Skating Month (Jan. 2019)|
“What’s going on in this video? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!”
(We’ve since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux)
Over at Physics@Home there’s an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?