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Courses

Physical and Earth Science

Cosmology
This course is a general overview of the scientific study of the universe as a whole. Along the way, several topics within physics, astrophysics, and astronomy will be highlighted to gain the proper background of the modern aspects of cosmology. Much of the course will be focused on understanding the basic Hot Big Bang Model. Although this model is being challenged by recent observations, it is the starting point for recent ideas such as inflation theory, multiverse theory, and others. These recent observations will be discussed and will shed light on why cosmology is a rapidly changing field.

Session 1

June 25 - July 14

Prerequisite(s)

Completion of an algebra course and familiarity with basic trigonometry.

Age and grade requirements:

1. 9th - 11th grade at the time of application.
2. age 14 - 17 on the first day of the session.
Environmental Science
In this course students explore a range of fields of study that focus on the environment, and may include topics such as energy resource engineering, climate change, sustainability and green technologies, marine biology, the water cycle, and other related fields. The course may include guest lectures and course-related field trips throughout the San Francisco Bay area.

Session 1 & 2

June 25 - July 14
July 17 - August 05

Age and grade requirements:

1. 9th - 11th grade at the time of application.
2. age 14 - 17 on the first day of the session.
The Frontiers of Physics
This course begins by surveying important experiments and observations that created modern physics, which includes the fields of quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of relativity. Then students are introduced to current topics in physics research possibly including string theory, particle physics, astrophysics, biophysics, and nanotechnology.

Session 1 & 2

June 25 - July 14
July 17 - August 05

Prerequisite(s)

Completion of an algebra course and familiarity with basic trigonometry.

Age and grade requirements:

1. 9th - 10th grade at the time of application.
2. age 14 - 16 on the first day of the session.
Theory of Relativity
At the end of the 19th century, many thought that physics was nearly complete. The classical theory of mechanics, Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, optics, and statistical mechanics could explain most phenomena. However, a few discrepancies between observation and theory remained. Utilizing ingenious thought experiments, Einstein completely reformulated how space and time were viewed. His new theory of special relativity (1905) is a surprisingly simple theory that provides explanations for some of the aforementioned discrepancies. In this course, a more modern, more geometric view is followed, allowing students to pursue challenging problems in many areas of physics. Once the special theory has been mastered, the inclusion of gravity introduces the general theory of relativity. This theory, dating from 1917 and providing a much more mathematically sophisticated account, is presented in a simplified manner that bypasses the formal mathematics yet emphasizes the geometric nature of the theory. The last portion of the course covers such special topics as black holes and cosmology. The program includes visits to facilities at Stanford conducting related research. This course is not a survey course; it provides a rigorous introduction to these theories allowing a sophisticated discussion of current topics. Emphasis is placed on solving challenging quantitative problems.

Session 1

June 25 - July 14

Prerequisite(s)

Students should have completed one year of algebra and a dedicated, introductory, high school-level course in physics covering mechanics (note that some physical science courses do not cover enough physics to satisfy this pre-requisite).

Age and grade requirements:

1. 10th - 11th grade at the time of application.
2. age 15 - 17 on the first day of the session.
Topics in Physics
Physics is among the oldest and most scientifically fundamental academic disciplines and is a key to understanding the world around us. This course surveys the main areas of classical physics including Newtonian mechanics, Maxwell's electromagnetic theory, thermodynamics, and optics. Topics are presented from a historical perspective focusing on the questions and experiments that led to the discovery of key ideas in the development of these fields. Students in this course will participate in discovery-based learning activities and serious problem solving assignments in order to see how physicist discover and then confirm their results.

Session 1 & 2

June 25 - July 14
July 17 - August 05

Age and grade requirements:

1. 8th - 9th grade at the time of application.
2. age 13 - 15 on the first day of the session.
Particle Physics
This course is an introduction to the physics of the smallest building blocks of matter. We will discuss developments in this field starting with early twentieth century research into the atom, the electron, and the photon, and continuing through the discovery, in the 1970s, of the standard model, which is the most numerically accurate scientific model humanity has ever produced. We will then move beyond the standard model to explore current research including neutrino physics and extreme high energy topics such as string theory. The course will have an experimental emphasis and we will study in detail several particle physics experiments that changed what we know about the universe.

Session 2

July 17 - August 05

Prerequisite(s)

Completion of an algebra course, basic trigonometry, and completion of an introductory physics courses in mechanics.

Age and grade requirements:

1. 9th - 11th grade at the time of application.
2. age 14 - 17 on the first day of the session.
Quantum Mechanics
This course is intended for students who have had exposure to physics but yearn to discover more about the modern aspects of physics. Richard Feynman said, "I think I can safely say that nobody today understands quantum physics." While many would agree with this statement in principle, there is no doubt that quantum mechanics is one of the most precise scientific theories ever developed. Its impact is felt every day; it is estimated that 30 percent of the U.S. gross national product stems from inventions based on quantum physics. It is becoming clear that quantum physics is no longer an esoteric topic to be learned in graduate school, but a necessity for many areas of research like chemistry, communication technologies, engineering, and even biological studies. Many of the mysterious aspects of quantum mechanics have been recently explored experimentally, confirming that the quantum world is vastly different from our everyday experience. In this course, students explore the origins and development of the theory, followed by a thorough study of its bizarre implications in light of recent experiments. Finally, the impact and applications of quantum mechanics will be explored, as a way of relating this theory to the real world around us.

Session 2

July 17 - August 05

Prerequisite(s)

A first course in calculus. Students should have completed introductory or AP-level physics courses in mechanics and electricity and magnetism (Note: some courses in physical science do not cover enough physics to satisfy this requirement).

Age and grade requirements:

1. 10th - 11th grade at the time of application.
2. age 15 - 17 on the first day of the session.