The Department of Physics is committed to encouraging high school students to be involved in science fair projects involving principles of physics. Several of our faculty have mentored high school students over the summers and also during the academic year to help students follow their passion for scientific inquiry within a research project. In addition to our faculty volunteering to judge and be mentors, we have been providing a special physics award at the Regional Intel Science and Engineering Fair held at UNC Charlotte each spring since 2016.
Physics Award Description:
Third, second and first place awards for outstanding physics research for $25, $50 and $100 are annually sponsored by the Department of Physics and Optical Science at UNC Charlotte. The awards are granted to high school students with outstanding research in any topic of investigation that substantially employ principles of physics. Consideration of creativity and imagination, experimental design, quantitative analysis, rigorous scientific inquiry and verbal demonstration of understanding of why the results work out the way they do are evaluated.
Physics Award Winners during Regional Science Fair - 2018
The 2018 winners for the special physics awards for high school students given at the regional science fair hosted at UNC Charlotte. From left to right we have, Daniel Klasing from Stuart W Cramer High, (1st place, $100), for his project on building a fission reactor that successfully worked where he fussed heavy water into helium, and he measured the resulting neutron flux from this reaction. Reisha Jaishankar and Anushka Nandy as a team from Weddington High (3rd place, $25) for their awesome hydraulic robots comprising crane arms that lift objects on a rotating platform, all moving via water pressure. They envision everyday household robots helping out with common choirs. Alexander Augenstein and Joseph Hussey as a team from Marvin Ridge High (2nd place, $50) for their surface plasma activator that allows air friction to be reduced by turning air into a plasma at the boundary layer on a model car surface. The air is then actively dragged along using electric current, which dramatically reduces air friction. In addition, they made careful measurements with a homemade wind tunnel. All these projects required great talent and ingenuity! These projects also demonstrate how applied physics is found in everything from the very small to large scales, and how one can have a lot of fun making cool stuff using basic principles of physics.
Physics Award Winners of 2017:
First place went to a team of three students who built a Muon detector from scratch (three young men to the left). Second place went to a young man (on the far right) who built a fully operational plasma chamber. Third place went to a young woman who built a robotic ball launcher to investigate the dynamics of trajectories based on the impulse on the ball through momentum transfer (not present in the picture).