As part of the Girls' Day 2024, 13 schoolgirls aged between 14 and 17 visited the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics on April 25th to get a taste of the exciting world of quanta.

The Institute opened its doors to 13 high school girls. In addition to lectures by Dr. Silke Stähler-Schöpf, head of the school laboratory, and PhD student Maya Büki, the main theme of the day was “do it yourself”. In the school laboratory Photonlab, the participants tried out the various experiments and learned about physical phenomena in a fun way - in particular, of course, how lasers work, which play an important role in the institute's research.

As every year, the various experiments with nitrogen were a particular highlight. The bowl in which Silke Stähler-Schöpf mixed the liquid smoking nitrogen with yoghurt, berries and sugar to create a delicious frozen yoghurt looked like a witch's cauldron. The pupils were also able to examine the nitrogen train in the school laboratory, which demonstrates the principle of superconductivity. A small train is filled with liquid nitrogen, which cools the superconductor in the housing. The result: the small train then floats unhindered over the magnetic track. And in the rose experiment, the participants dipped yellow and pink roses in liquid nitrogen - and then shattered the ice flowers.

The Girls' Day participants also got to know the work of MPQ employees. In the workshop, they learned from Michael Rogg which materials are processed into custom-made workpieces and how the ultra-modern CNC machines work. In her presentation, PhD student Maya talked about her research work on building a quantum network. The students were particularly impressed by a new research collaboration with LMU, in which a single photon is to be sent from Munich city center to Garching.

In the concluding Kahoot quiz, the students demonstrated everything they had learned on Girls' Day. When was the MPQ founded? What does LASER stand for? And what are female physicists actually like? All participants were able to answer the last question correctly - female physicists are versatile and certainly not boring!

Charlotte Huber


Pictures: Katharina Jarrah