Physics of Quidditch Summer 2018 Recap
The Physics of Quidditch camp had another great summer this year with two eventful week-long sessions. Structured around the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, the camp aims to teach physics through the lens of the magic from Harry’s world in order to make science concrete and approachable to its middle school audience. The camp was led by Logan Anbinder and Donna Hammer, with counselor "prefects" Asmit Biswas, Nate Crispell, Tyler McDonnell, and Anais Roche.
Over the course of the week, the campers learned the rules of quidditch and competed against other houses in a tournament which culminated in the awarding of the Quidditch Cup on the last day of the camp.
Each session, campers were sorted into Houses and were tasked with creating a backstory and a banner for their House. Each House’s banner was completely unique, and contained well known science symbols and mythical creatures side by side.
L: Campers demonstrate the wands & magnetism activity
R: Instructors Donna Hammer and Logan Anbinder with four-time camp participant Tony Kuebler
Campers also learned some of the physics that would be involved if quidditch – or other occurrences commonplace in the wizarding world – worked without magic. They did activities to explore projectile motion, torque, levitation, and magnetism, learned to present demonstrations from the department’s expansive Lecture Demonstration Facility, and were also exposed to current research going on at UMD. Grad student Kevin Palm spoke about his work in the lab of Professor Jeremy Munday, developing "smart windows" that can turn opaque on command, and the parallels between his research and the invisibility cloaks of Harry's world.
Another centerpiece of the camp was the Try-Physics Tournament. Houses competed against one another in a series of three tasks modeled on Harry's tasks in the Triwizard Tournament, but with a physics twist added in. Instead of saving an egg from a dragon, campers built devices to protect an egg from a 20 foot drop; instead of saving a hostage from the bottom of a lake, they built boats and competed to see which team’s could hold the most amount of washers – which this year saw a new record set.
L: Grad student Kevin Palm answers questions about his research
R: The Powerful Pegasi, winners of the week 1 championship tournament
The camp concluded with the campers presenting demonstrations they had learned throughout the week after competing in their last game of quidditch, pulling all the elements of the week together in a presentation.
One parent said of their child's experience, "Physics of Quidditch is truly one of the best camp experiences any of our boys have had over the years, and [my camper] especially enjoys the balance between 'learning way cool stuff,' teamwork and fun. He also loves playing quidditch, and I think the balance between learning/playing the game and the science is just right."
We had a great time this summer and are already looking forward to next year!