PQI Quantum Day 2019
Quantum Day 2019 for Taylor Allderdice High School Students
PQI organized its 3rd Quantum Day on Friday, April 12, 2019 for the students of Taylor Allderdice High School; a day full of activities, talks, lab tours, and of course pizza. About 20 students, mostly juniors and seniors, from Dr. Janet Waldeck's physics classes arrived early that day at the 321 Allen Hall, where they were greeted by PQI Director Jeremy Levy.
Professor Levy introduced quantum mechanics and its bizarre phenomena, and especially the meaning behind PQI logo. He encouraged the students to be curious and ask a lot of questions about what they are seeing or hearing, whether in a talk or in the labs that they will be visiting.
The first activity was an experimental demonstration, hosted by Gurudev Dutt, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at Pitt, and his group members Peng Ji and Erin Fierro. The students got the opportunity to conduct a “quantum eraser” experiment, which is an interferometry experiment that demonstrates several fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics, including quantum entanglement and complementarity.
The experimental demo was followed by four mini-talks in various fields of quantum science. The speakers included Profs. David Waldeck and Sean Garrett-Roe from Chemistry, and Thomas Purdy and David Pekker from Physics. The speakers had made a tremendous and successful effort to present their topics in ways that were interesting and accessible to high school students, who asked many questions and laughed at fun quantum related nerdy jokes.
After the mini-talks was an interactive panel discussion and Q & A session participated by more PQI faculty members including Profs. Peng Liu and Geoff Hutchison from Chemistry, Roger Mong and David Pekker from Physics, and Susan Fullerton and Judith Yang from Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. The professors talked about their own story of entering quantum science and engineering research, as well as what make them interested in their research and motivate them throughout the years. They also answered various questions from the students and provided suggestions on how to excel in college study.
The interactive discussion between faculties and students continued during the lunch, when five undergraduate representatives from the Society of Physics Students joined together to share their experience as both students and researchers. During that hour, panelists and students brought up quantum computing, superconductors, and even black holes.
Finally, tours of labs in the Physics, Engineering, and Chemistry departments concluded the day, giving a broad overview of the different aspects and applications of quantum mechanics from atomic resolution spectroscopy, to writing and erasing nanowires, and to Majorana Fermions. Students and faculty alike had a good time learning or talking about research in quantum science and engineering, and through Quantum Day 2019 PQI has certainly fulfilled its mission statement of helping unify and promote quantum science and engineering to high school students in Pittsburgh.