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F2k Outreach Centre of the Department

The general aim of the F2k Outreach Centre is to promote understanding of and interest in contemporary physics and technology among Finns. This aim is approached primarily by developing physics education; the centre operates within Physics Teacher Education of the Department. F2k offers a variety of activities, events and personal support for teachers and students, for the children and young and for the general public. In 2011, some events were offered also in Swedish. F2k is organised as a part of the National LUMA centre.

F2k laboratory

In 2011, the most salient activity was the F2k-laboratory which was opened in December 2010. The F2k-laboratory offers hands-on experiments in modern physics for upper secondary school teachers and students, and demonstrations and presentations for other visitors of the Department.

F2k-laboratory offers an experimental approach to the physics of the new millennium and the phenomena that form the basis of contemporary research in the Department. In its first year of operation the F2k-laboratory developed contents and instrumentations for experiments which bridge the gap between the school physics and contemporary physics. Visitors of the F2k-laboratory were able to make experiments which cannot be accomplished in schools. The experiments in modern physics covered e.g. the Millikan experiment, photoelectric effect, black body radiation, a variety of spectral measurements, and the Thomson experiment. F2k-laboratory linked these experiments to the present-day research and applications. The aim is also to arouse the visitors’ interest in physics.

During the opening year, the F2k-laboratory attracted altogether more than 800 visitors. In-service teacher training was given to 130 physics teachers from secondary schools. Many of the trained teachers brought their classes to the F2k-laboratory afterwards. Group visits, typically including two hours of hands-on experiments, were integrated as a part of the course on modern physics in upper secondary school. In addition to these working sessions, demonstrations and presentations were shown to dozens of school groups. Some groups were also prepared for their visit to CERN.

Many other visitors, including co-operation partners and international guests of the Department, were introduced to the F2k-laboratory. Outreach activities also involved competitions for international students, open door days and shootings for television programmes.

Other services for science teachers

Again in 2011, the Department arranged the traditional course for in-service science teachers. This time the topic of the course was”Empirical basis of modern physics”, interlinked with the development of F2k-laboratory. The course, attended by 25 teachers, ran for a week and included a variety of lectures given by the staff of the Department, and a lot of experimental work.

F2k arranged workshops in several teacher training events outside the Department too, and consulted science teachers in problems related to physics or physics teaching. F2k maintained and developed a library with literature on physics education, and a web site with electronic resources for physics teaching. The web site also includes a service by which schools can search for substitute physics teachers among the students of the Department.

Outreach events for the youth and children

In 2011, the F2k-club events were offered to 13-19-year old students. The purpose of the F2k-club is to offer a view on contemporary physics through popular lectures, and an opportunity to converse with physicists and see their laboratories. Some 50 students attended these events.  Additionally, some 40 guided tours to the research laboratories of the Department were arranged for school groups, mainly from upper secondary schools. The Department also provides an opportunity for gifted students to study some basic university courses in physics already during upper secondary school.

Outreach activities also included events for children. The science day “Jippo” attracted nearly 200 visitors to the Department, most of them families with children. The programme of the day involved lectures and small workshops both in Finnish and in Swedish. Furthermore, the traditional and popular summer camps for children were organized again, this time dealing with physics and technology related to human health and well-being. In autumn semester, students of the Department also ran afternoon clubs in a few Swedish-speaking and Finnish-speaking primary schools in the Helsinki region.