by Alaina Fox
Immersing themselves in countless demonstrations of physics’ real-life applications, students enrolled in both AP or regular physics at LGHS made the journey to the Exploratorium on Feb. 26 and 27. Travelling to San Francisco on buses, hundreds of students left school for a day to experiment with hands-on learning.
In addition to the usual exhibits – Human Phenomena, Tinkering, Seeing & Listening, Living Systems, Outdoor Exhibits, and Observing Landscapes – the Exploratorium featured displays highlighting significant discoveries by black scientists for Black History Month.
After over a semester of learning about physics, students took advantage of the opportunity to see physical science, as well as various other scientific fields, in action. While some flocked to physics exhibits highlighting concepts they learned in this year’s class, others gravitated toward areas focusing on chemistry, biology, ecology, psychology, or sociology. Adora Chen recalled, “One of my favorite sections of the exploratorium was the one that dealt with light and its properties. It was also interesting to see how some exhibits dealt with humans and our psychology; for example, there was a bowl where people could take or leave objects and it was interesting to see whether people left high value objects or not.”
A student in AP Physics 1, Felicia Nguyen, agreed, “A lot of the exhibits were related to what we’ve learned in our class, which was super cool to see because it really gives you a broader understanding of the topics through a real life application. Plus, you get to go through and just explore whatever interests you with your friends.” Students had the freedom to move at their own pace, spend more time at the exhibits that appealed to them personally, and walk around in groups of their choosing – this independence allowed students to tailor their experiences to their interests.
Teachers acknowledge that although the field trip is difficult to organize, it provides an unparalleled experience to foster greater comprehension of concepts that students normally deal with in theoreticals alone. Katharine Magary, who teaches both regular and AP Physics classes at LGHS, considers the field trip vital for students’ understanding because “The Exploratorium was one of the first museums that was interactive rather than just looking at things about science,” and when it comes to scientific disciplines, “you have to be able to see the phenomena in action.”
The annual field trip to the San Francisco Exploratorium consistently offers a unique way for students to delve into science, and the experience remains a cherished tradition for physics students.