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USD Physics Society Ignites High School Students' Passion for Science

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Science is not always the most interesting subject to teenagers and some schools lack the funding and equipment to show how exciting it can be.

Over the past year, members of USD's Society of Physics Chapter set out to excite students through an outreach project with Hoover High School, located in a San Diego neighborhood with a large immigrant population and a median household of $20,000. 

After Hoover lead physics teacher Vincent Andrews chose a group of 25 promising students, the physics chapter invited them to come to USD for a day of interactive science experiments including making ice cream from liquid nitrogen, using a diffraction lab to measure the width of a hair, and watching how air currents can ignite fireballs.

For their efforts to promote diversity and interest in science to underrepresented students, the 10-member chapter received the prestigious Blake Lilly Prize this month from the society’s National Council. Judges said they “were impressed with the reach and scope of the chapter’s efforts.”

“The visiting students had as much fun as the USD volunteers,” said Kathryn Regan, president of the USD chapter. With just four students to each volunteer, “Hoover students would mention their interest or curiosity in a particular field or area of study and our members were able to enthusiastically validate and encourage their ambitions.”

After the first day-long event in the fall of 2016, the chapter held another session in the spring of 2017. Members plan to continue the biannual program and expand it by adding more personal mentorship and hosting activities at Hoover High to make them even more accessible to students there.

The high school showed its appreciation by giving USD students Hoover caps and t-shirts. The program was a “real eye-opener for students about the incredible college and career possibilities available to them in physics-related fields,” Andrews said.

— Sofija Kresovich '18