Fun in Theory is a unique outreach approach, which is aimed to spark the interest in theoretical physics.

 

Fun in Theory: The Origins

The Fun in Theory is an event created and organized by the laboratories of Theoretical Physics and Quantum Optics in the University of Turku. Originally the event was created for bachelor’s and master’s students in physics

  • to introduce what kind of theoretical physics courses they can learn
  • to introduce members of the lab and their research topics
  • to provide a possibility of having fun in a relaxed atmosphere and get to know each other better

 

Fun in Theory: Now

Fun in Theory has involved into an outreach approach, which has the following aims:

  • introduce participants to the world of theoretical physics in an understandable and playful way
  • ignite / increase interest towards theoretical physics
  • show participants relevance of fundamental physical theories, like quantum mechanics and cosmology, in their everyday life and society
  • bring to the participants’ knowledge the spectrum of theoretical physics research topics
  • tell participants about the impact research in different branches of theoretical physics will have on our society, starting from working perspectives to medical and technological developments

 

Fun in Theory: The Format

Fun in Theory is an event, which is intended to be socially interactive and informative, and casual and funny at the same time. Naturally, for participants there are no requirements of previous knowledge in theoretical physics.

The event is provided in three parts:

  1. Theory part: 45 min – 1 hour introductory lecture, where participants get motivation to learn more about different branches of theoretical physics and are see a glimpse behind the curtain of theoretical physics world.
  2. Fun part: 2 hours long game, where participants continue familiarizing themselves with theoretical physics world while carrying out small game tasks and competing with each other for Fun in Theory prizes.
  3. Socializing: free format part, where members of Theoretical Physics and Quantum Optics Laboratories together with the participants have free discussions, eat snacks, and the winners of Fun in Theory game get prizes.

 

Fun in Theory: The Diversity

Each event has its own theme. Below you can see the examples of “Murder Mystery”,  “Superheroes” and “Escape Game”.

 

Each Fun in Theory is modified for the theme. Each event has different game in the Fun part, which fit the theme. In addition, an introductory lecture style and method vary with the theme.

 

Fun in Theory: The Spark

The crucial part of the Fun in Theory concept is the game. It helps to develop good attitude towards theoretical physics, usually thought as difficult, abstract and hard to understand. It gives a spark for the interest in theoretical physics and motivation to get to know to theoretical physics theories and concepts.

The participants notice that studying quantum mechanics, cosmology, quantum field theory and quantum optics can be understandable, fun and interactive.

 

Fun in Theory: The Game

The game is conducted via smaller tasks, which vary from event to event. The larger aim of the game resonates with the theme: sometimes participants need to do all the tasks to get out of the laboratory rooms and the other time they need to play the game to safe the world or resolve the murder mystery.

There are different formats of smaller tasks. Below are some examples:

  puzzles

  playing virtual games

solving a problem

  explanatory tasks

  performative tasks

 

The performance in each task is rated according to the correctness of the final answer and the creativity of the performance in general. In that manner, by getting the actual correct answer a team can only increase their points, but they don’t have any pressure to get the correct answer. The creativity and good team work can also get a team to win the game.

During the small tasks participants can learn new concepts or the general overviews on different theories or the tasks can be planned just to create associations with different subjects.