Science

Setting up a Quantum Physics Group

An interesting proposal to which I immediately replied, “yes”. Although I had tried to read a book on the subject I had put it down after the first chapter. It was just too difficult to get into but Joan Mooney, who is co-leader with me, was enthusiastic and suggested a group of like-minded people could have 2 or 3 meetings and we could take it from there. Nearer to the date of the taster meeting she confided that she did not know what we had got ourselves into.

Our backgrounds were different which reflected our different approaches. She had been a speech therapist, had recently read a book by Carlo Rovelli and had a philosophical angle. I had taught maths but had no Physics qualifications at all. I immediately started to prepare a lesson plan for our first meeting and a power point presentation about the sun’s conversion of Hydrogen to Helium which was all new to me.
I also felt that some group activity should be included to try to make it more interesting. The activity chosen was electro-magnetic waves. This, I found out, was just about X-rays, radio waves and microwaves.

We had 15 at our first meeting which seemed to go down well. I gave out ‘homework’ on gamma rays, neutrinos and the positron. At the following monthly meeting we examined the homework and a ppt on radioactivity was shown. At the subsequent meetings we looked at Carbon dating, Thorium decay, quarks and the electron shell.

Although it sounds advanced, the group, which has remained basically the same, has accessed it and have learnt together in an interactive way.
I believe that presenting, what would seem to be, a very difficult subject in a simple and accessible way helps the learning experience to be more enjoyable.

We cannot go into this subject in great depth but understanding some of the fundamentals not only increases our own confidence but also shows that if you prepared to give something a go then the rewards can be great.

It is intended to run this basic course as I now call it again in the autumn for newcomers and anyone who had missed a meeting. Those members who had completed and understood the fundamentals would be able to attend Quantum Physics level 2.