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Teachers’ Summer: Princeton Plasma Camp

micrograv chamberDates: July 11 – 15, 2011. Eligibility: Physics teachers,  grades 9-12 and Middle School teachers of advanced physical science. Location: Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, New Jersey. Application deadline: May 27, 2011.


The Plasma Science and Fusion Energy Institute is a one-week intensive workshop designed to provide the opportunity to study plasma physics and fusion energy through experimental research in our state-of-the-art laboratories. Participants will perform experiments, in collaboration with laboratory scientists, that investigate the basic properties of plasmas. Finally, plasmas are ideal to illustrate many concepts in high school physics curricula including waves, atoms, nuclear reactions, relativity, electricity and magnetism. An integral part of the Institute will be the development of new plasma-based lesson plans, student-led investigations and demonstrations.

All participants will receive equipment similar to what is used during the workshop to take back to their classroom. In addition, up to $2,000 is available through a mini-grant to purchase additional equipment after completion of the workshop.


As part of the workshop, participant’s work in small groups of their own choosing when designing new curricula based upon common needs (teachers from large urban school districts or from small private schools, etc.). Each group is given the task of creating a new curriculum with four separate components:

1) a two to 10 minute classroom demonstration;
2) a one to three period laboratory investigation;
3) a set of five to ten problems or questions;
4) an advanced project for one or more students given sufficient time and resources. The participants are not asked to create a new plasma/fusion unit (unless they chose to) but to weave the new material into their existing curricula. Newly created curricula included:

  • Advanced laboratories using a glow discharge plasma tube
  • Demonstrations with Plasma Globes and Fluorescent Lights
  • Laboratories on Plasma Spectroscopy and Microwave Optics
  • Internet Activities for Astronomy
  • Advanced Projects on Microwave Interferometry and Plasma Spectroscopy
  • Interactive Software on Charged Particle Motion in a Magnetic Field
  • Quiz and Test Questions

Topics Covered


    • Plasmas as a teaching tool in the classroom
    • An Introduction to Plasma
    • An Introduction to Fusion Energy
    • Experiments with plasmas
    • Fusion Reactors
    • Energy in a Global Economy
    • Energy and the Environment
    • Scientific Methodology


    • Plasma balls
    • Fluorescent light bulbs
    • Gas to plasma transitions
    • Advanced plasma sources for the classroom

Eligibility: Current physics teachers of grades 9-12 are eligible to apply as are advanced middle school teachers of physical science. Selection is limited and is based, in part, on the applicant’s teaching, research, and educational experience.


From the participants

  • Written and oral reports of laboratory work
  • Development and dissemination of new plasma-based classroom material
From the Institute
  • The chance to work in teams with scientists from the laboratory using research grade equipment
  • The chance to work with colleagues from schools throughout the country in developing new plasma-based lesson plans for your classroom
  • Curricula to bring back to your classroom
  • Laboratory equipment and software to bring back to your classroom
  • An intensive, rewarding, and enjoyable week!

Travel and Housing: Expenses for travel to/from each participant’s home and dormitory housing will be paid for by the program.

For copies of plasma-related curricula contact Dr. Andrew Zwicker at

One Response to “Teachers’ Summer: Princeton Plasma Camp”

  1. The deadline for the 2013 camp was March 29. Here’s the link to the application:

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