Annual Quantum Physics Day leaves students mystified

Annual Quantum Physics Day sees students conduct experiments with light and electrons.

The annual Quantum Physics Day was part of the Bangkok Patana School STEM Challenge. We invited top Year 12 Physics students from other international schools in the region to join us for a day of stretch and challenge.

At the beginning of the day, Mr Baker posed a pair of deceivingly simple questions: “What is light? What is an electron?” Little did we know at the time, but to answer these questions we were about to embark on a journey through the realms of Quantum Physics. Throughout the day, we conducted some of the fascinating, mystifying, and counter-intuitive experiments in the quantum field that world-renowned scientists first initiated. We conducted experiments with light such as double-slit diffraction and the photoelectric effect that give completely contrary information regarding the fundamental nature of light. For electrons, we observed electrons diffracting from a graphite target and also measured the e/m ratio, the ratio of charge to mass of an electron; these were another two experiments with irreconcilable results.  The conclusion is both bizarre yet inescapable: light and electrons can be considered to be both waves and/or particles – it depends on the experiment!  We were just as excited as electrons in a fluorescent material illuminated by a violet laser while we were learning first-hand about fundamental principles of Quantum Physics!

It was an extremely informative and engaging session where we got the chance to learn Physics, hone our presentation skills and form connections with the other participants, all at once. All in all, Quantum Physics Day was an extremely enriching and enjoyable experience for all of us!

By Arnav, Fresh, Sarina, Chawin, Nubtong, Tianshu, Richie, Kelly-Ann, Year 12 IB HL Physics students at Bangkok Patana School

Some feedback from the participants:

The activities effectively challenged our experimental and analytical skills, allowing us to look at reality differently. (Sam, KIS)

A fun and interactive way of introducing younger minds to a complex field of physics, through experiments, learning theories and watching educational videos to guide us. (Arnav Jhaveri, BPS)

The experiments were interesting. The topic was explained in the way that was not difficult to understand even though the concept is complex. It encouraged students to develop social and communication skills. (Leo, KIS)

It was a great experience especially with the guidance of the lovely physics teachers here at Bangkok Patana School, Mr Baker and Mr Hayes. (Chawin & Sarina BPS)

The guidance was exceptional and heavily detailed. (Raaid, ISB)

A great opportunity to work with like-minded individuals. (Faa, KIS)