College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM Graduate Student Teaches Physics Concepts at Tougaloo Summer Camp

University of Mississippi graduate student Arif Mohd (fourth from left) spends some time with his students at the Physics Summer Program at Tougaloo College.

One of the highlights of Arif Mohd’s summer was spending a week teaching complex physics concepts – from quantum mechanics to astrometry – to high school students as part of the Physics Summer Program at Tougaloo College in Jackson.

“My choice of topics was geared towards giving the students as much exposure to physics as possible, the latest discoveries and how we got there,” said Mohd, a graduate physics student at the University of Mississippi.

 

The free annual program is designed to give high school juniors and seniors a taste of college life and college level courses.

Mohd enjoyed interacting with his small class of intelligent, motivated students.

“It was very interesting to interact with them and to address their questions and discuss their points of view about different things,” Mohd said. “The best is when you see their eyes light up when you tell them some interesting observations like the accelerated expansion of our universe. Also, I would make assignments for them to work on in groups of two, and then each team explained their answers to the whole class. It was fun to see them discussing.”

Beyond understanding the material, Mohd hopes the students learned the value of knowledge.

“I wanted to convey to them the thrill of modern scientific inquiry and an appreciation of our progress since antiquity and what it took to get here,” he said. “I would be satisfied if they just take that home with them. I hope that they also have learned how to learn.”

Marco Cavaglia, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, recommended Mohd for the program.

“Arif is one of the brightest students we had in our graduate program in the past few years,” Cavaglia said. “I know him well, having taught him several classes and interacted with him a lot on research topics. Besides being very capable in research, he’s also a good instructor, and he loves to teach physics. I was sure he would do a good job.”

From his own experience, Cavaglia was sure that Mohd would learn from teaching the students.

“I taught at Tougaloo’s Physics Summer Camp last year, and it was a very rewarding experience,” he said. “Besides the joy of teaching physics to young folks, lecturing at Tougaloo is an important service to our community – we contribute to the education of young students who could become tomorrow’s scientists. I am sure Arif felt the same, and this experience further fostered in him a greater sense of appreciation for teaching and public service.”

Lucien Cremaldi, professor and chair of physics, supports the continuation of this program to bolster science education at the high school level.

“We were very happy to see Arif Mohd teach in the Tougaloo Summer Program,” Cremaldi said. “It is a great opportunity for the department and Tougaloo students. We sincerely hope to continue the tradition in the future.”

For more information on the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit https://www.olemiss.edu/depts/physics_and_astronomy/.