What next list compiled for summer science camp graduates

Interested in community outreach?

In this post, I share materials from an outreach effort that I have been part of for some years.

ASPIRE is a science workshop for high school women.

At the end of the camp, we like to address the question:

What next?
picture of recommended books including particle physics by griffiths and others for blog how to phd


ASPIRE stands for Achieving in Science through Physics Instrumentation, Research, and Exploration.

It is a 5-day science workshop hosted biannually by my research group. 

It consists of hands-on projects, lectures, tours, and lunches. 


As a graduate student helping to run the camp, I teach the students concepts of Electricity and Magnetism, light waves, and particles. 

I also co-lead a project on building novel applications with Arduino. 

This project is consistently given the highest ratings by the students with comments such as:

Physics is possible and fun and I love it now

At the end of the camp, we like to address the question:

What next?

That is, what things might ASPIRE graduates consider doing next?

I compiled a list of materials in an attempt to answer this question.

This is what we provide the students:

Following is a list of suggestions of shows and videos you could watch, texts you could read and activities you might consider after this camp!

Watch Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – this 13-episode milestone scientific documentary is very informative, fun and imaginative. Neil Tyson hosts it and does a great job! It is currently on Netflix :)

Watch Richard Feynman: Fun to Imagine – Feynman was one of the most renowned physicists of the 20th century and was also noted as a great lecturer. This hour-long rare video on YouTube is a chance to learn Physics from the great.

Explore Space at Space Engine – exploring space can be a deeply humbling, amazing and inspiring experience. 
Space Engine brings us a free space simulation program at http://en.spaceengine.org/.

Have a Particle Adventure – this is an award-winning, interactive website (they have smartphone apps too!) that takes you on a tour of Particle Physics. 
You might just get hooked at http://www.particleadventure.org/

Learn a programming language – no matter which STEM field you go into, being able to program can be a very useful skill to possess. Python, C++, Java, MATLAB, Mathematica, etc. are all regularly used by scientists. Pick one up and you can probably pick another one up pretty easily. Python is an open source language that is fun and easy to learn. There is a ton of documentation online that you can access for free if you just Google. At Codecademy, you can learn to code several languages interactively, for free
Check it out at https://www.codecademy.com/
Plus, Hello World! By Sande and Sande is a book aimed at beginners.

Look at awesome pictures taken by NASA – In general, it’s good to read about what NASA does at www.nasa.gov, plus you can check out the astronomy pic of the day at http://apod.nasa.gov.

Learn about career options in Physics – often we are asked: “But what are you going to do with a degree in Physics?”! Check out what the American Institute of Physics has to say! Be it someone that is considering majoring in Physics, or someone that has decided already, you will find something useful here: https://www.aip.org/career-resources

Check out Khan Academy – this is a free, educational YouTube channel. The Physics series starts with introducing vectors and scalars and then takes you through all the math you need to know to learn Physics. They are easy to follow, give it a shot! Click on Playlists to see what a huge collection they have.

Check out HyperPhysics – some visual learners really swear by the Physics educational website HyperPhysics run by Georgia State University. Google it and click away at the different Physics topics that you can visually learn about :)

Check out the blog A Day in the Life – Here you can read what it’s really like to be in Physics straight from the horse’s mouth. The authors comprise scientists that range from high school students to professors! Their stories are informative, entertaining and inspiring!  

Go to free public lectures at OSU Science Sundays, Smith Lectures and Biard Lectures are some of the free public lectures hosted by OSU on interesting topics from experts. You’re welcome to attend these and don’t feel shy to ask questions at the end :)

Go to another camp – A lot of young people decide to take up Physics or a different science field because they loved their experience in a STEM summer camp. Keep an eye out for opportunities to attend other summer camps.

Learn more about Earth Sciences – Liked the talk by Wendy Panero? Recommended reading for this field is Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and How I Killed Pluto by Mike Brown. Want to have some more fun? Find a 5-10x hand lens, aka jeweler's loupe, and try identifying some minerals in the Earth’s crust yourself!

Learn more about Molecular Dynamics – Had fun visiting Lisa Hall’s lab? Learn more about how they simulated all those molecules by watching this video

Read Intro to Electrodynamics by David Griffiths – This is a popular book on the topic used mainly as an undergraduate two-semester text. If you plan to major in Physics in college, you will most probably end up using this text. The math used will be at the Calculus 3 level - till you get to that point, though, reading the text will help introduce the topics. No one really understands everything the first time. It’s OK :) 

Read Introduction to Elementary Particle Physics by David Griffiths – If you’re ambitious about learning the theory of Particle Physics, give this text a shot. It is written for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduates of Physics. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t understand all the details and equations right away. It’s a good book to have on your shelf and to read a few pages from now and then.

Get involved in research at OSU – Doing research can be the best way to learn for some! If you want to get involved in hands-on research in a real science lab at the university, feel free to e-mail the Principal Investigator (PI) of the lab, who is generally also a professor. If they don’t respond right away, don’t worry, professors are busy, you might have to send a second e-mail to remind them. They may get back to you with something helpful. If they don’t, oh well, they missed out, try a different person! You can do research during the summer when you’re off from school. You can do research as an undergraduate when you start college. It’s never too late and it’s never too early! You can make yourself useful in a lab, and learn more than you could ever imagine! You can perhaps get paid too as a science intern!

Take classes at OSU while still in high school – Check out the Ohio State Academy Program at http://undergrad.osu.edu/academy/ for opportunities to take classes (potentially for free!) at the university while you’re still in high school! This could be a way to find out whether you would enjoy taking Math or Physics in college because there is a big difference between high school and college. Taking college-level courses in high school is a great way to stay ahead of the game and being ahead, especially in math topics such as Calculus and Differential Equations will help you succeed in STEM majors, including Physics! For example, many students have enjoyed their decision to take Calculus at OSU while they were still in high school because that took care of an important and relatively time-consuming course requirement even before the start of college, making the college experience that much better :)

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