BYU GALs Program Sheds Light on Physics

On May 31 and June 7, 2016, girls age nine through sixteen came to BYU to discover physics. For the past four years, BYU Physics professor Dallin Durfee has brought physics to life and “light” for these students through a program called BYU Girls and Light (GALs).

The program’s primary purpose is to introduce girls—often underrepresented in the sciences—to physics. Durfee said his goal is not necessarily to bring more girls into the field but rather to show that they can “do science” and have fun with it too.

This year, the BYU gals created holograms, printed 3D models, and learned about the science behind tuning music.

Walk into the room during this outreach program, and one would see elementary, junior high, and high school aged girls adjusting red lasers, shooting them through 50 mm and 250 mm lenses. The students were looking for fringes, or patterns of the laser reflected off white paper.

Each girl could personalize her scientific experimentation. One girl put the “Hunger Games” mocking jay on her 3D-printed medallion. Another girl used her brother’s toy knight as a model while making holograms.

More than one participant enjoyed the interdisciplinary approach to music and physics.

“One of my favorite subjects is science, but I also really like the arts, so the music stuff that we did relating to the frequencies was very interesting to me because I play musical instruments,” said fifteen-year-old Jaylee Bastian.

Bastian said that understanding the physics behind percussion instruments, which she plays, can inform musicians the best way to play an instrument. When playing the xylophone, for example, it is best to play at the center of the different keys because there are no nodes and more resonance.

Alexandra Hardman, the youngest participant at nine years old, said her favorite part was working with the laser and making the holograms.

“It’s fun to play with light…I want to be an inventor when I grow up, and I might need light if I want to make a hologram you can touch and feel,” Hardman said.

Durfee said it doesn’t matter whether these girls choose to go into science because science is important for everybody. Another participant, 15-year-old Isabel Adams, agreed.

“They [science and everyday life] intersect more than we give them credit for,” she said. “I guess science is always present but we don’t always think about it.”

More Information on This Article

Article Source/Further Information

News and Events

Image for Mystery of Haumea's Formation Solved
BYU Physics and Astronomy student Benjamin Proudfoot recently published research in the prestigious journal Nature Communications that solves the mystery of the icy dwarf planet Haumea's formation.
Image for Debunking acoustics myths around the Saturn V
When the Saturn V rocket propelled man to the moon in July 1969, the blast from the rocket’s engines was tremendous. Marked by a dazzling display of flames and deafening noise, the monumental event gave rise to widespread claims that the acoustic force of the rocket melted concrete and ignited grass fires miles away. New research from BYU debunks this common myth.
Image for Dr. Aleksandr Mosenkov, new Astronomy faculty
Dr. Aleksandr Mosenkov, new faculty, looks forward to receiving some of the first data from the James Webb Space Telescope to study galaxy formation
Image for BYU Acoustics Records Artemis Launch
A group of BYU students and professors gathered acoustical recordings of at the world’s most powerful rocket launch.
Image for Kent Gee Recognized by AIAA
Kent Gee is selected as Associate Fellow of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in their class of 2023
Image for West Mountain Observatory contributes to understand distant galaxy
BYU’s West Mountain Observatory was one of 37 ground-based telescopes throughout the world monitoring the active galaxy that is roughly 1 billion light years away.
Image for Dr. Tim Leishman retires from BYU
Dr. Leishman's time at BYU was filled with great teaching and profound mentoring
Image for Dr. John Colton: Table Tennis Champion
Dr. John Colton won the 2022 BYU intramural table tennis tournament