Jefferson Lab Posts 2017-18 Physics Fests Calendar

  • Jefferson Lab’s Steve Gagnon prepares to give an “electrifying” demonstration, using a Van de Graff generator during a Physics Fest program.

Jefferson Lab’s Steve Gagnon prepares to give an “electrifying” demonstration, using a Van de Graff generator during a Physics Fest program.

Cryogens to Plasmas: Science Demonstrations Educate, Excite Students

NEWPORT NEWS -- Each year Jefferson Lab holds a number of student field trip events dubbed Physics Fests. These two-hour programs help students learn a little about the types of experiments conducted at the lab and about some of the technologies used to carry out these experiments.

“Students get to participate in some pretty cool science,” says Science Education Administrator, Steve Gagnon.

Each program includes an array of demonstrations designed to help students better understand scientific methodology and principles. They learn about the phases of matter – starting with demonstrations using liquid Nitrogen at a frigid -321 degrees Fahrenheit, and ending with plasmas.

The demonstrations are entertaining, but presented in a way that encourages students to think about an experiment’s outcome or result, and using what they know and have observed to help them make hypotheses about what will happen in the succeeding activities.

Physics Fests take place from 10 a.m. – noon on selected Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The 2017-18 calendar is online at  (Move your cursor over a desired date, click on a specific date to open the reservation utility for that date.) Seating is limited. Reservations are required, and must be confirmed.

Classes, groups and homeschool students may attend these free programs. Those planning to attend may download the Physics Fest Classroom Activity Pack saved as a pdf on the event calendar page. This document contains general information about Jefferson Lab, the anatomy of the atom, a vocabulary list with related games and puzzles, and data sheets and activities that may be used before, during and after attending a program. The Activity Pack is about 2.1 MB in size, and can be downloaded with Adobe Reader software. The materials are written at the 6th-grade reading level.

Individual students and groups must be accompanied for the duration of the event by teachers, parents or authorized adult escorts. Physics Fests take place in the CEBAF Center auditorium located at 12000 Jefferson Ave.

For security purposes, everyone over 16 is asked to carry a photo I.D. Security guards may inspect vehicles, bookbags, backpacks, etc. A map and directions utility is also available on the reservations page.


Contact: Deb Magaldi,, 757-269-5102


Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. JSA is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. (SURA).

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit