The Austrian section of EPS Young Minds (ÖPG Young Minds) and the Division “Physics and School” of the Austrian Physical Society (ÖPG) have organized this year’s “LehrerInnentag” (teachers’ day) of the Austrian Physical Society. We presented the winners of this year’s Students’ Award for outstanding master and diploma theses in the areas of theoretical and experimental physics, which is awarded by the Young Minds section. This year’s laureates are Lukas Semmelrock (HEPHY/TU Wien) for his work “Dissipative Losses in Self-Interacting Dark Matter Collisions” and Raphaela Wutte (TU Wien) for her work “Near Horizon Boundary Conditions for Spin-3 Gravity in Flat Space”.
Further, the division “Physics and School” presented the winners of the Roman Ulrich Sexl Award for outstanding achievements in teaching and the winners of the awards for “pre-scientific work” (“Vorwissenschaftliche Arbeiten”) in the area of physics.
Following the award ceremony, all laureates presented their areas of research in front of an audience of high school students. During the discussion many interesting questions were asked. Additionally, the participants of both the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) and the International Young Physicists’ Tournament (IYPT) shared their experiences during these events.
With over 190 attendants composed mostly of high school students, teachers and other interested participants, the event was a great success. It connected graduate students and high school students and it helped introducing the latter to the forefront of research in modern physics. We definitely plan to repeat this event in the coming year.
As a first effort in its existence, the Austrian section of EPS Young Minds (ÖPG Young Minds) has organized a special “Young Minds session” within the setting of the 66th Annual Meeting of the Austrian Physical Society. The aim was to let graduate students present their areas of research in front of an audience of high school students. The subjects included many-body electron systems, black hole physics and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and were presented in an accessible manner. The result was a lively discussion between students and presenters, and many interesting questions were asked. With roughly 250 attendants composed mostly of high school students, teachers and other interested participants, the event was a great success. We definitely plan to repeat it in the coming year, possibly also outside of the annual meeting.
For the purpose of advertising both the event and our ÖPG Young Minds section, we have created a flyer that we distributed in the community of Austrian physicists and sent out to high schools. For this, we made use of the financial support of EPS Young Minds. The flyer (in German) can be downloaded at http://oepg-students.at/uploads/beca8120f1622ea22a292a76dcd3ed07.pdf.
We have also contributed to organizing a session at the same meeting on possible career paths for physicists, aimed both at high school and university students. The subjects ranged from biophysics to software engineering with a focus on physics and again, high school students asked a lot of questions and were actively engaged in discussions.
Our activities have shown that it is easy to build a bridge between graduate students and high school students and to expose the latter to the forefront of research in modern physics. In the future, we want to continue in this spirit.