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The Game of Physics – YM BAA 2015

2015_Valla_Game_12Within the framework of the “Open–door day” in the Science Faculty of University of Valladolid, three workshops of 30 minutes were carried out in parallel, with three physics areas: Thermodynamics, Optics and Electromagnetism. The main objective of this project was to approach physics knowledge to high school students in an attractive way taking advantage of the popular TV-series “Game of Thrones”.

In the Thermodynamics workshop (set in House Targaryen), the students discovered the following experiments/topics:

  • Two ping-pong balls get closer blowing in the space between them (Bernouilli effect).
  • Water boiling with a temperature below 100°C, due to low pressure.
  • A bottle filled with hot air is deformed by atmospheric pressure.
  • A cloud of alcohol is created by depressurization.
  • Dry ice is used to illustrate the different densities of CO2 and air.
  • The Leidenfrost effect is shown burning hands with a mixture of water, hairspray and soap.

In the Optics workshop (set in House Baratheon), the following concepts are explained:

  • Basic concepts of reflection, refraction, limit angle and optical fibre.
  • Invisibility by the same refraction index of Pyrex and sunflower oil.
  • A homemade vapour-display creates a screen of water vapour (laminar flow), the interaction light-matter is introduced.
  • A PC-monitor without its polarizing film cannot display any image. Linear polarizers are used to recover the image and to show the total extinction.
  • A set of four mirrors is adequately placed in order to banish a person (cloaking effect). A 3D image is achieved with an acetate pyramid and a video (holograms).

In the Electromagnetism workshop (located Beyond the Wall), the students discover the following phenomena:

  • The electromagnetic force is shown on aluminium strips and soap bubbles. This concept is also illustrated with a Van der Graaf generator.
  • A ferromagnetic fluid, iron filings, magnets and a magnetic field visualizer are used to show the magnetic field.
  • A magnetic levitation kit is used to illustrate the power of the magnetic force.
  • A plasma sphere and a Tesla coil with a light bulb become two ways to reproduce an aurora borealis.

The students filled a questionnaire (accessible by a QR code) and the results were very impressive: the activity got a score of 4.8 of 5, and most of them want to repeat an experience like this. 26 out 200 (13% of the participants) express their intention to study Physics after seeing our activity.

This show has been performed four times through June 2015 with a total audience close to 1,000 viewers. In May 2015, this activity was awarded the EPL Best YM Activity Award 2015 during the 4th EPS Young Minds Leadership Meeting.