THE PHYSICS Lab at the Department of Physics, LUMS School of Science & Engineering (SSE) conducted a three-day National Laboratory Immersion Programme in June last.
Purpose of the event was to engage post-graduate students, researches, and teachers involved in the field of physics education and experimental sciences, and to provide them with knowledge-based, hands-on, modern and invigorating exposure to the various aspects of laboratory program development, teaching, implementation and assessment.
The National Laboratory Immersion Programme is a training and orientation programme organized by the Department of Physics, School of Science and Engineering (SSE), LUMS. It has targeted post-graduate students, researchers and teachers who are involved in the field of physics education and experimental physical sciences.
During the workshop, various lectures, laboratory work, demonstrations and guest lectures, from seasoned instructors arranged.
With over 150 applications received, the organizers finalized a list of 50 candidates most suited to attend the workshop; the selected participants were teachers in universities from Khairpur, Sukkur, Karachi, Jhelum, Peshawar, Bahawalpur, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Gujjar Khan, Sara-e-Alamgir, Kasur and Lahore, representing 23 universities and colleges.
The Workshop included inspiring lectures and engaging demonstrations by Dr. Sabieh Anwar (SSE LUMS), Dr. Asad Abidi (UCLA, United States), Muhammad Wasif (SSE, LUMS), Junaid Alam (SSE, LUMS) and Amrozia Shaheen (SSE, LUMS). The lectures were loaded with demonstrations, tours of the laboratory facilities, data processing workshops, laboratory demonstrations and real practical training.
The participants were exposed to the newly devised standards for best measurement practice, and formalisms for quantifying and expressing so-called uncertainties revealing the statistical nature of measurement. It was emphasized that a set of readings must be critically transformed into a measurement, identifying a suitable probability distribution function and quantifying its parameters.
The interactive laboratory sessions also cruised the participants through a complete cycle of generating and recording physical data by data acquisition hardware, including the cheap sound card, that could transform the laboratory experience in developing countries like Pakistan, understanding, organizing, processing and analyzing physics data.
An important highlight was Dr. Asad Abidi’s guest lecture on the ‘The Greatest Experiments in Science’, a two-hour inspirational encounter that mesmerized the audience with a gripping account of Cavendish’s year-long, meticulous experiment on literally weighing the earth. His experiment based on a torsional pendulum demonstrates the apex of human ingenuity, experimental adroitness, vocational skill, care for sources of error and above all deep foundational scientific knowledge.
Another feature of the workshop were the interactive laboratory sessions where the participants were guided through the complete cycle of: generating physical data, understanding data and inferring physics from data, impeccable recording of practical work through laboratory notebooks, and presenting results with an acute sense of precision, significance, relevance.
On the occasion, particular emphasis was on acquiring experimental data, presenting data, analyzing and processing data, building equipment, analyzing error and uncertainties and report writing.
The closing ceremony was presided over by Dr. Khalil Qureshi (H.I., S.I.). In his closing remarks, he praised the theme of the workshop and emphasized the need of literally immersing into scientific creativity and ingenuity. Volunteers from the participants then expressed their candid views and unanimously hailed the program as a life-changer.
In conclusion, it was decided that this programme is taken up as a permanent calendar feature by various universities and colleges across the country.