Physics Outreach programs celebrate UT Austin Physics students’ commitment to teaching and service to others, especially their passion for sharing the wonder and fun of physics with young people throughout the broader Austin community. The Department of Physics has set a goal of raising $5,000 in gifts and pledges for Physics Outreach programs, which support the programs that have a big impact in our community. These programs are primarily run by UT students and faculty members serving as volunteers. Funding is needed for travel, supplies and other basic operating costs.
The Physics Circus
The Physics Circus is a traveling science show that helps kids see all the cool things science can do that they normally don’t get to see in the classroom. In roughly an hour of thrilling demonstrations, students learn about many of the most essential physics concepts, including heat, motion, states of matter, properties of air and electricity. Physics graduate students facilitate these free performances for over 3,000 Austin-area elementary and middle school students every year. This fun program provides a great opportunity for our graduate students to become better teachers and ambassadors for science in their communities.
Texas Prison Education Initiative
Evidence shows that education programs in prison drastically reduce recidivism, making our community safer and changing the lives of formerly incarcerated folks and their families. The Texas Prison Education Initiative is a volunteer-run organization at The University of Texas at Austin offering credit-bearing college courses through UT Extension to incarcerated youth and adults at no cost to students. During the academic year, physics graduate students and faculty members offer such courses to prisoners, bringing the same level of rigor, standards and expectations of the UT Austin curriculum to students behind bars.
Physics for All Summer Workshop
This new initiative will target high school students from low-income and underrepresented minority backgrounds around Austin. The program will consist of a two-day summer workshop with tours of the physics department, lectures and mini-experiments. A representative from university admissions and an undergraduate advisor will host a question-and-answer session, providing students with a unique opportunity to learn more about the process and how they can enhance their applications. All of these activities support the goal of increasing applications, acceptances and enrollment in college and university science programs among these students.
Alice in Wonderland
The goal of this program is to expose young women to physics by getting high school students involved in scientific research over the summer. The Alice in Wonderland program begins with a series of daily lectures given by UT graduate students and faculty, covering subjects from computer modeling and quantum mechanics to scanning microscopy and thin film growth. These lectures are followed by an internship in a faculty research lab in the Department of Physics or Chemical Engineering. Students spend at least 80 hours in the lab over the course of the summer, learning what it really means to study science.