Science At  My School Had No Soul

Cofounder and CEO, Michael Finnegan, Ph.D., tells the story of Quantum Camp

“For those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it.” 

 

Danish Scientist, Neils Bohr said this decades after the year 1913, when he first proclaimed to the world that electrons, inside atoms, don't move smoothly through space, but rather as if by magic, jump around with no trace and no trail. 

 

How did Bohr do this? Well, the answer to this question IS the founding ideal of QuantumCamp, Inc. 

 

You see, I used to be a public school science teacher, frustrated by the hurdles before me, to simply introduce compelling physical phenomena for my kids to wrangle with.

 

The school board and principal were breathing down my neck telling me to teach science to the standardized tests. Yet, I couldn’t see myself delivering boring check-box based lists of dry content, to be memorized, to these beautiful young minds, in my classroom.

 

Yet I knew of no better alternative. 

 

So I dove into the history of science and math to find out what the great, iconic scientists of history did, in their pursuit of learning and building new knowledge. 

 

Jumping to the punchline … Invariably, curiosity about mystifying phenomena drives systematic explorations. 

 

Find your fascination - the mere fact that stunningly tall mountains exist, the frequency of earthquakes in particular locations, fire, breathing, the striking similarity of primates on different continents, shooting stars, and .. and let me get technical here for a second .. the beautiful spectral emission lines (see the QC logo!) of the chemical elements. 

 

In the middle of the 19th century as optical devices were getting better and better, physicists noticed that each element, when energized, emitted a unique series of light bands. There was zero theoretical explanation for this fascinating phenomenon. 

 

Curiosity about this mystifying phenomenon drove a half century of systematic explorations! … And out comes quantum physics AND… an idea of a summer camp program! 

 

That’s right, in 2012, I created a series of science lessons, mirroring the investigations from the 1850’s to 1913, which allowed students to discover their own way to the quantum revolution. 

 

On Friday of that weeklong summer camp, students approached me saying, “Michael, does this mean the electron can be here and here, but not in between. It just jumps magically from spot to spot?” 12 kids discovered quantum physics, with minimal guidance. 

 

99 years after Neils Bohr published his theory, a company was born modeled on the way he and all the great scientists and mathematicians from history did what they did. 

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