Biophysics, Imaging, and Soft Materials

SAIL Physics and Human Physiology Day Camp


Part of the umbrella of SAIL programs in a variety of departments at UO, the SAIL Physics + Human Physiology camp is a week-long set of hands-on activities, lab tours, and talks for high-school students focused on learning both about science and about college in general . The SAIL program is free and especially targets low-income students without a family history of higher education, conveying the appeal and accessibility of college both indirectly through its activities and directly through presentations from admissions and financial aid officers.

The inaugural Physics camp was held in August, 2008. Several Physics faculty contributed time and effort to the program, and activities included microscopy of household materials (like toothpaste and mayonnaise), exploring the physics of rock climbing (at the UO gymnasium, with Associate Dean and avid climber Dietrich Belitz), and creating Jackson Pollack-esque "fractal" paintings. Student response was enthusiastically positive.

Every summer since 2009, we've run this camp jointly with the Human Physiology department, especially exploring connections between physics and biology. For example, we've used soap films to study the physics of surface tension and its implications for lung function (Raghu Parthasarathy, Physics) and taken part in lung physiology demonstrations (Andy Lovering, Human Phys.) Andy Karduna (Human Physiology) and I co-organize the camp.

Here's a general description of the SAIL program. Here's a blurb I wrote in 2014 about some of its more entertaining activities; here's a 2017 recap and a 2019 postpost on a new protein-related activity.

Physics and Human Physiology SAIL Day Camp: 2019 Schedule (pdf).

Past Schedules: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 (Physics camp)

A nice article on the SAIL program, from the College of Arts and Sciences Magazine (Sept. 2008)

Photo: Prof. Graham Kribs on physics, rock climbing, helmets, and watermelons. Also: Physics graduate students Savannah Logan and Mae Voeun, and Prof. Andy Karduna (2016):


Photo, from a 2008 session on microscopy of household materials: