Getting girls interested in Physics 

Lasers, light, atoms -  one day as a quantum optician. On Girls' Day 2022, ten girls visited the MPQ to learn more about its research.

Girls' Day 2022 took place on 28 April. The MPQ has been involved in the nationwide initiative for many years, which aims to motivate girls and young women to pursue technical and scientific careers. After a pandemic-related gap, this year’s Girls Day was finally held in person again. The ten participants, aged between thirteen and fifteen, gained varied insights into the institute's work areas and research topics, tried their hand at the numerous experiments in the MPQ student lab and experimented with liquid nitrogen.

Experimenting in the student lab and everything you need to know about nitrogen 

How can light transmit information such as music? And how does a laser actually work? The schoolgirls investigated these and other questions about light, lasers and physics in the student laboratory PhotonLab by trying out the lab’s various experiments. Two doctoral students, Maya Büki (Department of Quantum Dynamics) and Amelie Schulte (Department of Attosecond Physics), were on hand to answer questions and talk about their everyday lives as researchers. "I'm very happy if we can help to get more girls interested in physics - that's time well spent!" said Maya Büki. 

The fact that this year's Girls' Day was able to take place in person again also made it possible for the girls to learn more about the exciting properties of liquid nitrogen. Dr Silke Stähler-Schöpf, for example, demonstrated the student lab's newly acquired nitrogen train: A little nudge is all that is needed for the magnetic miniature train to glide over the tracks. But, as the participants learned, liquid nitrogen can also be put to practical use - for example, if you want to make tasty ice cream from yoghurt. Finally, each participant was able to test the capabilities of liquid nitrogen herself and turn yellow roses into ice flowers within a few minutes in the nitrogen dewar.

Screws, DIY and catching atoms - female physicists work in many and varied ways!

But Girls' Day 2022 also got down to the nitty-gritty: Sarah Hirthe, a PhD student in the Department of Quantum Many Body Systems, talked about her research and explained what exactly makes her work so exciting. "It never gets boring. One day you're thinking about quantum physics, another day you have to screw or tinker yourself." The participants were able to see for themselves the variety and complexity of everyday work as a physicist during a tour of Sarah's lab (here called the Lithium lab). Especially the complicated and small-scale experimental set-up - laser, vacuum chamber and hundreds of small mirrors that at first glance seem to be arranged in a criss-cross pattern - made an impression on the girls.

By the way, the next Girls' Day will take place on 27.4.2023 - for more information about the programme, it's best to check the MPQ website and the Girls' Day website regularly.

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