700 Students Make Holograms in High School Physics Course

700 Students Make Holograms in High School Physics Course!

Thomas D. Rossing

More and more high school teachers are finding light and sound to be subjects that appeal to high school physics students (the latest edition of Paul Hewitt's popular physics textbook "Conceptual Physics," for example, includes 7 chapters on sound and light). That is certainly true at New Trier High School, where over 700 students take high school physics. In fact, Christopher Chiaverina, a teacher at New Trier, has joined me in writing a new textbook "Light Science" (Springer-Verlag, 1999) which is aimed at students in both high school and college with an interest in visual arts.

In order to enhance their teaching of Light Science, Chris, Mary Beth Barrett, and other physics teachers at New Trier High School decided to arrange a laboratory experiment for all levels of physics at New Trier. To set the stage, they invited Tung Jeong, professor emeritus at nearby Lake Forest College, to do a lecture/demonstration on holography, which drew an enthusiastic response from their students. Then by borrowing some extra equipment from Jeong and from our lab at NIU, they were able to have each of their 700+ physics students make a reflection hologram, using an object of his/her own choice (watches and jewelry seemed to be the most popular, Chris reports). Imagine 700 teenagers showing their own holograms to parents, grandparents, friends, etc.; what public relations for physics education!

FEd members should be reminded that both Chris Chiaverina and Tung Jeong will be invited speakers at the FEd-sponsored session on "Physics and the Arts" at Atlanta. There probably won't be time to make your own holograms that afternoon, but Chiaverina and Jeong will probably bring along some that their students have made.

Tom Rossing, a physics professor at Northern Illinois University, generally edits the Fall newsletter. He is especially interested in physics and the arts, and has arranged the FEd-sponsored session on physics and the arts at Atlanta. In addition to "Light Science" he has written or edited 12 books on acoustics.