July 13, 2020

Anniversary session

This was a special year, it was our 10th anniversary season. For ten years we have been giving students the possibility of learning about the intricacies and beauty of physics. Although our initial plan of the season ending session had to be canceled, we adapted and even brought lectures to a larger audience. In this anniversary session a re-run of some the most popular lectures of all 10 seasons combined with a few other interesting topics was given, thus providing the possibility to hear about interesting phenomena and topics to students, who had not heard them before. The video lectures were made by some the founding members of the organization. The lectures covered topics like movie physics, Archimedes force, what is cold, why the Sun shines, pandemic prognosis, molecules in a mole and describing the world with dice. Altogether 7 video lectures were made, and they can be found on our Youtube channel “Jauno Fiziķu skola”. 
We have thoroughly enjoyed this experience and we are looking forward to another ten years of bringing physics to the public.

A recap of season 10

The 10th season of School for Young Physicists was the most successful of all time. The average attendance was the highest ever – around 300 students each session and one of the sessions had the highest evaluation given by students of all ten seasons.
In the second part of the season we covered topics like electronics, sound and acoustics, material physics, quantum physics. And in these sessions, we learned how computers detect and fix errors in digital data, how to build an amphitheater with great acoustics and how we find composite materials. In the in-house experimental sessions, we looked at some interesting circuit designs, measured frequency of a vibrating rubber band and tested the strength of chocolate composite materials.

Despite the difficulties the Covid pandemic caused, we were able to conduct the last two sessions online through Youtube lectures, which can be seen on our Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_V5Wzm6Waj6ouyIPyZOj7w/featured). In these lectures we learned about the history and the progression of quantum physics, and about quantum cryptography. And in the last session, which was our anniversary session we had a re-run of the most popular lectures of SYP history, 7 lectures were published.
And in the annual school cup, with 326 points “Fizmatiķi” claimed victory over “Cikliskie Pingvīni” by only 3 points, which was the closest margin of victory of all years the school cup has been held.
We are looking forward to seeing all the amazing and smart students in autumn hopefully in our home The Science House.

January 14, 2020

Season 10 of School for Young Physicists is here

We are happy to have worked already for a decade to bring bits of the wonderful world of physics to schoolchildren eager to learn. Ten years ago, when the first session took place, we could never have imagined such a continued interest both from physics students and schoolchildren, who already have lots do in their studies. We hope this speaks for the quality of the lessons we provide, and we will keep working hard to improve even more.

After summer, it seems people were impatient for some physics as we gathered a record number of schoolchildren on the first lesson of season 10. We had to accommodate a whopping 340 children, which we could thanks to the new location of the faculty of Physics, Mathematics and Optometry of the University of Latvia.

In the first half of season 10 of SYP we touched upon the physics of telecommunication, the mechanisms of climate, the motion of rotation, and lastly cosmology and astrophysics. A couple of experiments in these lessons were very well received. The children created Faraday cages and using them determined the wavelength used by their telephones, and they discovered and exoplanet using real raw astronomical observation data. Additionally to organizing the sessions in the capital Riga, we also regularly visited cities further away from it so that we can bring these lessons to people who can’t make the regular journey to Riga.

SYP plays a role in a Europe-scale endeavor

This past summer, the 3rd European Physics Olympiad (or EuPhO for short) took place in Riga, Latvia. It was an endeavor of previously unseen proportions for the Latvian physics community – almost all the major player in this field came together to make it happen. The team of SYP also played a role, as the experience of our team with high-school students came in quite handy. Members of the SYP squad helped both in the creation and execution of the experimental problem and also as supportive EuPhO team members (i.e. attachés, guardians during the Olympiad, problem checkers etc.). Our SYP team leader also was the leader for the national team of Latvia.

Furthermore, SYP’s work with EuPhO didn’t actually end after the Olympiad had finished. Instead, members of our team kept working to transform the experimental problem to a simpler variant that could be distributed to Larvian schools. In this way, 200 sensors left over from EuPhO have found their new homes in Latvian schools as part of an experimental kit that allows both to recreate th EuPhO’19 experimental problem and also perform plenty other, simpler experiments.

We are proud to have been part of both hosting the Olympiad and also working together with teachers and with the National Centre for Education of the Republic of Latvia to make use of the sensors left over after EuPhO in Riga. We’re glad to see the sensors being put to work in schools right now.

July 14, 2019

Season 9 of SYP - a look back

This past academic year already the ninth season of SYP took place. It was a success – it continued the body of work done in previous years with turnout remaining stable at a strong 200 students each session. Furthermore, it seems that our team is also improving the quality of sessions, as this year posted the highest average mark for each session as graded by students.
Most sessions this season were quite outside of typically discussed topics in school – for example, we had sessions on explosion physics, cold physics, nanophysics, fluid dynamics and even symmetries and fractals. Highlights of experiments include observing the transition between laminar and turbulent flow, finding the fractal dimension of Latvia’s contour and building a model of a car’s dashpot amortization. During that session, a professional racer also headlined the final lecture of the session.
Furthermore, this year also saw continued collaboration with other cities beyond the capital of Riga. SYP regularly visited Kuldiga, Ventspils and Valmiera for special sessions. Agreements are already in place to continue this tradition next year.
Our team has also looked for outreach opportunities beyond the classroom, and therefore SYP also took part in the 2nd Physics Festival in Riga, and helped organize the European Physics Olympiad, which took place in Riga this year. Right now, during the summer, some members of our team represent SYP in various educational camps by giving lectures on topics in physics, mathematics and programming.
The annual School Cup also took place for the fourth time, with the team "Karaliskā gvarde" from Riga State Gymnasium No. 1 claiming first place with a commanding lead over the rest of the competition. Congratulations to them!
This year was also unique because SYP (and the rest of the department) changed its home to a new, modern building! Our new facilities allow us to better accommodate the large numbers with spacious and contemporary equipment. We are excited to return to work in September, when we will be able to fully utilize the advantages provided to us by our new home.

February 12, 2019

SYP has a new home!

In February, the monthly session of SYP took place in a new place for the first time in nine years. The University of Latvia has built a brand new building called the Science building – it is meant for students of the department of Physics and Mathematics, students of the department of Medicine and a series of scientific institutes. It is a state of the art building, providing a very pleasant upgrade in technical quality to the sessions of SYP.
The inaugural session on the new building dealt with mathematical physics – a challenging topic indeed. However, the new apartments were just in time for a difficult topic like this – large, spacious auditoriums with multiple screens and slidable blackboards allowed for the mentally challenging topics to be covered as well as possible. The final lecture was also a treat – it happened in the conference hall with plenty of space, a large screen and in-built audio systems that the lecturer can use with a microphone to make sure everyone can hear him well.

Another thing was new in this session – our fellow physics students from Lithuania were gracious enough to come over and visit, and also give a lecture in English. This proved to be popular among students, who have a limited exposure to physics education in English.
We are very glad to have a new, modern building to continue our work in. If the smiles of students after the session were any indication, they enjoyed it as well.

Season 9 of SYP enjoys continued success

In September 2018, already the ninth season of the School for Young Physicists went underway. The season began literally with a bang – the first session was about the physics of explosions, which had students blowing up small scale pyrotechnics in the park and trying to determine the energy they release. As autumn set on and the weather got colder, so did the topics covered – in October, cold physics was the topic of the month. In that session, the star was prof. Vyacheslavs Kashcheyevs, who gave a lecture on Bose-Einstein condensate, which (despite not understanding much of it) every student loved. In November and December topics about nanophysics and experimental physics were covered respectively. These sessions were more about contemporary physics, showing students the landscape of modern physics. Participants also had a chance to try out Arduino microcontrollers in their experiments to create electronic measuring devices – a relative novelty in schools, but a mainstay in modern experimental physics.

Together with season 9 the annual School Cup also began – for the fourth year already. Just like last year, teams of students representing their schools compete throughout the season by earning points for their team. Points can be earned by filling out tests each session and by completing homework tasks (a total of four during the course of the season). Students appear to enjoy the contest – north of ten teams fight hard for positions in the rankings. Students also enjoy the homework tasks – a highlight, for example, was solving Fermi problems, which was something completely out of left field for students who do not encounter anything like it in school.
All in all, the first half of SYP season 9 has been successful, continuing where season 8 left off.