Young PhDs in Physics

Young PhDs (left to right) William Luo, Jasmine Ellis, Shaun Lightfoot and Prakriti Verma made Oobleck with mechanical designer Joyce Miller during their visit to JLab.

Jefferson Lab welcomes youngsters participating in summer science camp.

Educating and exciting today's youth about science and technology is an important adjunct to Jefferson Lab's scientific mission. On July 16, the Department of Energy laboratory, located in Newport News, Va., welcomed 10 participants to its "Young PhDs in Physics" camp.

Two sessions of the three-day program, sponsored by

CHROME — the Cooperating Hampton Roads Organization for Minorities in Engineering — were hosted this summer by JLab. The first session was held on-site while the second session was conducted July 30 – Aug. 1 on the Old Dominion University campus located in Norfolk, Va.

"In this program 'PhD' stands for Persons having Dreams," explains Lisa Surles-Law, JLab's Science Education specialist who ran both sessions of the physics camp. "We hope that by participating in this program, these young people will be encouraged to pursue careers in science or engineering. We planned a variety of activities to generate learning, excitement and curiosity."

The camp is designed to give rising 6th, 7th and 8th graders exposure to science through hands-on experiments and activities they may not have access to in the classroom. In addition, the program gives students the opportunity to talk with scientists and engineers and visit their work areas.

Each day of camp featured a special theme, according to Surles-Law. "The first day was 'All About JLab,' so the students could get a better idea of what we do here — the types of physics experiments we run. We do several activities that are part of the Lab's BEAMS — Becoming Enthusiastic About Math & Science — curriculum.

"The second day was Magnet Extravaganza," Surles-Law continues. "We had a magnet magic show, built electromagnets and visited Al Guerra, one of JLab's magnet experts in his workplace."

The last day was Materials Science Day and included activities and experiments that explored matter through science. The students conducted an experiment studying the insulation properties of different materials and, firsthand, saw how ultraviolet (UV) light reacts upon beads. They even tested sunscreens to determine their levels of UV protection. A tasty highlight at the end of the third day materialized when the group got to make their very own batch of Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream!

Each day included activities, field trips, a craft project related to the day's theme and learning new vocabulary words related to the day's activities.


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