Physics Club and Outreach

The Physics Club is a student organization for anyone who thinks physics is "phun."  Meetings are held every two weeks.

The year is filled with activities, beginning with the display of a 111-foot pendulum in the Superior Dome during mobile device distribution. A courageous few may even be able to swing on the pendulum.

The fall semester includes a hike through the bog near Presque Isle Park to investigate the paranormal Paulding lights. Members also Argonne_2013_wide.JPGattend the Undergraduate Research Symposium at Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago. Students are encouraged to present their research projects at the conference.  The picture on the right features the students and faculty who traveled to the Symposium at Argonne National Laboratory this year.

Some very successful outreach programs have involved interactions between Physics Club members and students at Sandy Knoll Elementary School. Another important outreach activity is NMU's Seaborg Center Science Olympiad, held each February. The competition is open to middle and high school students. During the Olympiad, NMU physics students and faculty assist with various competitions in math and science.

Additionally, NMU physics students and faculty have been involved in Project Kaleidoscope, a day of scientific and hobby activities at NMU's Superior Dome. Elementary school students and teachers are also invited to NMU to participate in astronomical activities to supplement their study of the solar system. NMU physics faculty visit high school physics classes in the area to introduce students to new concepts and experiments.


Fall 2016 Activities:


Mackinac Bridge Visit


On Saturday October 8, 2016 a group of nine students from the NMU Physics Club traveled with the Physics Club advisor, Dr. David Donovan, Professor and Head of the Physics Department.  Since 2004 many years, but not all years the club has visited the Mackinac Bridge Authority.  The students are given a presentation by one of the two engineers who manage the bridge.  Students learn how and why the bridge was built, how the bridge is maintained and improved each year, and about special projects that occur with the bridge.  Students are given opportunities to ask many questions.  The real treat of the visit is the chance to go to the top of one of the bridge towers about 300 feet above the roadway, or to view the anchor piers about 200 feet below the bridge.  Two students chosen by a random card draw were brought up to the top of the south tower.  The remaining students were brought to the north anchor pier and were taken below the bridge to see how the main cables that the bridge is suspended from are anchored to the ground.  They also get to see the bridge from below and get a view at the water’s level.

Pictured below are Phillip Talsma and Thomas Hagan


Pictured left to right are: Rachel Hunter (Club President), Klay Ryon, Sarah Abell (Club Vice-President), Biidaaban Reinhardt, Lovedeep Singh, Andrew Middler, and Josh McMullen.





Winter 2016 Activities: 


Radiation Oncology Department Visit

The Physics club visited the Radiation Oncology Department at the Upper Peninsula Health Systems Hospital in Marquette on April 12th, hosted by Health Physicist and NMU graduate Brian Rasmussen. Brian earned an MS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison after graduating from Northern Michigan University.

The group of current students, accompanied by Dr. Donovan and Dr. Russell of the NMU Physics Department, were given a walk-through of the facilities, and a demonstration and discussion of the state-of-the-art CT scanner and Varian Linear Accelerator for X-ray treatments. This was a valuable opportunity for students to learn about the applications of physics in the medical field.










Marquette Board of Light & Power Tour



The Physics Club enjoyed a fascinating and informative tour of the Shiras Power Plant near the Marquette Lower Harbor on Wednesday, February 24, 2016. The group of 10 students and Dr. Neil Russell of the NMU Physics Department were greeted by Ira Tillotson (Stock Keeper/Purchasing), who accompanied them on the tour given by Scott Goedert, Shift Supervisor.

This educational visit provided a rich overview of the operations of the plant, from the raw materials, to the turbines, to the newest systems in use to purify the exhaust gases. The club extends its thanks to the folks at the Shiras Plant for their hospitality.










Powder River Basin coal is stored in piles for use during the winter months. The coal is stored near the dock where it is delivered by freighters.







Physics Club students who participated in this tour pose outside of the Board of Light and Power plant.








Ira Tillotson is shown holding the broken insulator that caused the plant to go down and resulted in a power outage in the community.








 This picture is of the insulator and ruptured steam pipe that failed when the boiler was shocked during the power outage.








Students, outfitted with hard hats and safety glasses, walk through the plant.








Student tour participants survey the coal storage area and delivery dock.