PeP Pupil Experiments

Laboratory for students

Our working group offers different kinds of activities for pupils and we are always looking forward to interested students spending some days with us.
Some years ago a project called "PeP - Physik erfahren im Praktikum - Vom Kerzenlicht zum Laser" was developed [1],[2] and carried out several times with great success. Our target group were high school students with special interest in Physics but due to the demand we revised our Pep - concept for even for younger students at the age of 13 - 15 years.
The project is planned for three to four days from 9.00 o´clock in the morning to 5.00 o´clock in the afternoon. During this time students can do their own research work in the fields of optics. They work together in small groups whith three to four participants while they are supported by diploma students or students which are planning to become teachers. In order to make sure that the theoretical background is well understood and the experiments are seen in the right context every day starts with an one hour lesson. Afterwards each group works on its own experiments according to a selected physical question in the fields of optics. At the end of the day all students have to prepare a presentation for their experimental results which have to be explained including the theoretical background and discussed in front of the whole class. Figures 1 - 5 give a short overview of the work in our first student´s group.

Further activities for students and teachers as well can be described by the title "Fallen für Schüler", which includes the development and construction of macroscopic particle traps [3],[4]. It was a kind a milestone in the development of atomic and quantum physics that microscopic particles could be stored in a small volume where they are investigated for a long time and without any interaction in well controlled surroundings. Charged particles for example can be trapped within an electric ac-field, called Paul trap, or by a combination of static electric fields with magnetic fields, called Penning trap [5],[6]. Neutral particles can be stored in magnetic traps or within the strong focus of laser light which is called a dipole trap [7]. In addition to these optical and electromagnetic methods storing by acoustic waves is applied to the investigation of smallest compact our fluid samples. This acoustic levitation is a result of forces in the field of a standing ultrasound wave [8], [9]. Without any doubt pupils should have the possibility to get an insight beyond classical physics into modern atomic and quantum physics with its new methods and results. Even if the physical meaning with all its aspects might not be fully understood by students they learn some basics about physical methods and realise that physics is a vivid and fascinating field. Figures 6 - 10 show the work of 10 pupils building up Paul traps during a project organised in the Schülerforschungszentrum Bad Saulgau.

Another project of our group, which started as one of the experiments of PeP [1] is Holography. Holography gets more and more important in research, safety engineering and medicine. But what is behind all this? Why are holograms three dimensional? Why are they embossed at bills and why do a lot of holograms glimmer in all colours of the rainbow? How looks a holography lab and is it possible to make holograms oneself?
The holography - traineeship from 9 am to 3 pm starts with a lecture, in which the students learn some basics needed, to work independently in the dark room. The pupils can bring their own object from home, and make a hologram with it (e.g. playing train, bunch of keys, coins...). In the dark room they will justify, expose, develop, bleach, water and dry their hologram. During this time, they will work in teams - but everyone will have the full responsibility for his hologram and the others will help and give advise. Finally at the end of the project every student has the possibility to take one hologram home as a souvenir (cost sharing 5 € / hologram).

Note: Also visit the web pages of the NaT-Lab for pupils at the Johannes Gutenberg-University.


[1] O. Puscher: "Vom Kerzenlicht zum Laser - Konzeption und Durchführung eines Schülerlabors", Staatsexamensarbeit, Institut für Physik, Universität Mainz (2002)
[2] D. Klein: "Schülermotivation an der Universität - ein Schülerpraktikum zur Förderung der Physik an Schule und Hochschule", Staatsexamensarbeit, Institut für Physik, Universität Mainz (2004)
[3] A. Schmitt: "Die Paulfalle als Schulexperiment - Eine Einführung in die Atomphysik", Prüfungsarbeit zum zweiten Staatsexamen, Studienseminar Bensheim (2001)
[4] A. Schmitt: "Schüler und Schülerinnen als Fallenbauer, Ein aktuelles Experiment im Physikunterricht", PdN-PhiS. 2/51, 2002, 34 - 39
[5] W. Paul: "Elektromagnetische Käfige für geladene und neutrale Teilchen", Nobelvortrag, Phys. Blätter, 46 (7), 227-236, 1990
[6] H. Winter, H.W. Ortjohann: "Simple demonstration of storing macroscopic particles in a Paul trap", Am. J. Phys., 59 (9), 807-813, 1991
[7] A. Ashkin: "Application of Laser Radiation Pressure", Science 210, 1081-1087, 1980
[8] R. Tuckermann, S. Bauerecker, B. Neidhart: "Levitation in Ultraschallfeldern, Schwebende Tröpfchen", Physik in unserer Zeit, 32 (2), 69-75, 2001
[9] E.G. Lierke: "Akustische Positionierung - Ein umfassender Überblick über Grundlagen und Anwendungen", Acustica - acta acustica, 82:200-237, 1996
[10] Kerstin Grieger: "Experiment und Unterrichtsreihe Holografie zur Leistungsbeurteilung in der Sekundarstufe II", Staatsexamensarbeit, Institut für Physik, Universität Mainz (2007)
[11] Nadine Coberger: "Moderne Modellexperimente als Schülerprojekt - Paulfallen und Teilchenbeschleuniger -", Staatsexamensarbeit, Institut für Physik, Universität Mainz (2007)