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Est. 1998: Twenty Two Years and Counting!
Program Director: Peter Harnish

The PSA: Experimental Physics Research Academy is a three-week program designed to create familiarity and intuition with physics. Since our founding, we have concentrated on a curriculum of “Celebration, Not Acceleration” where the focus is not test-prep or replacing course-credits but providing a larger framework for students to understand and appreciate physics and to be prepared for college-level physics.

There is no requirement of a previous physics course, although typically about half of our students have taken some prior to attending the program. In either case, students are guided to move past memorized equations to gain a deeper understanding of cause and effect, and ultimately an appreciation of physics on a higher level.


Comments From Past Students


What Do We Talk About?

Providing a firm footing for all students, the first week of the program is devoted to mechanics, optics and electricity. In the second week, we begin exploring more advanced topics, like relativity, the modern physics, and mathematical modeling. In the third week, students join week-long projects, choosing to work in one of our various specialized topics in physics with graduate teaching assistants and professors at Penn.

In additional to pure physics studies, class time is also devoted to the philosophy of science, experimental design, choosing education paths, and the ethics of science.


What’s in a Day?

Most days consist of one or two lectures given by one of our five instructors, several instructor-lead actives or discussions, independent meetings of each group, and an open “office hours” with the staff for additional help and unstructured conversations. Each week there are also several research talks given by Penn faculty members about their fields of specialization and active research, which include question and answer sessions with our students.


What else should I know?

Throughout the program, cooperative work and communication is emphasized. Lab groups change each week, and in weeks two and three, lab groups present their reports orally to the entire program. We also hear from current researchers about their work.


Where can I apply?

Click on the link here or in the menu to apply. There, you can find more information about Penn Summer Science Academy in general as well as an online application.