Princeton University Science Expo, 19 March 2008

A middle school student converts light energy into motion with a solar cell, as Professor Mansour Shayegan explains the concepts at the Princeton University Science and Engineering Expo. Standing at a table, one of many spread across the gym floor like checkers on a checkerboard, Prof. Shayegan wanted to convey the notion that energy manifests itself in many different ways.

He taught through props -- hand cranks, a homemade battery, solar cells and wires -- that produce mechanical, chemical and electrical energy. He let students visiting his table play, while he guided them. A hand crank with wires attached to a light bulb showed mechanical energy transformed into electrical. A contraption containing vinegar and galvanized nails connected with a crude speaker illustrated that chemical energy could become mechanical energy.

The actions were simple; the message deep. "Everything you see around you is like that," Shayegan said. "It's all about the transfer of energy."

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Princeton University Science Expo, 22 March 2007

Graduate student Nathan Bishop presented the "diamagnetic levitator" demonstration to four middle school students using a floating magnet suspended between two wooden blocks. It's more than a neat trick -- the technology has applications in hybrid cars and magnetic levitation trains.

The Shayegan research group's presentation of basic E&M principles was very well received. Hands-on demos included simple motors, generators, conversion between chemical, mechanical, and light energy, magnetic braking, and the diamagnetic levitator.

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