By Kaley Considine
Posted May 12, 2015
The Aitkin High School physics class went on their annual physics trip on Wednesday, May 6th. This year, 26 students went on the trip; these students are members of the college physics class, as well as the high school physics classes. The classes traveled to the Soudan Underground Mine State Park. They left at 7:15 am and returned around 5:30 pm. On the trip, they visited the Soudan Mine museum, toured the mine while learning the history of the mine, and saw and learned about the physics lab.
The physics teacher, Andrea DelZoppo, has been a teacher here at AHS for 22 years and has taught the physics class the entire time. She has taken the class on the Soudan Mine trip eight times over those 22 years. DelZoppo says this of their trip: “We put on hardhats and travel one-half mile below ground to the Soudan Underground Physics Laboratory that is operated by the US Department of Energy in conjunction with Fermilab in Chicago and the University of Minnesota. We tour the physics lab that is tracking muon neutrinos that are shot through the earth from Fermilab to the underground detector in the Soudan mine. The Lab is searching for dark matter, and muon neutrinos are thought to possibly be a part of that matter. There is also an experiment that is searching for WIMPS (weakly interacting massive particles) that are also thought to make up dark matter.”
DelZoppo says she will continue to take her classes on this trip as long as the lab is operational and she remains the physics teacher. She states that this is a very important trip for the class. Throughout the year, the class does hands-on proven classical physics, and this trip takes them to a lab that does purely experimental research. This means that they are collecting data with no ideas as to what they may find, which could lead to new insight on how the universe works. The students get to see the physicists in their natural habitat as they collect the data. DelZoppo also believes this trip is important for students because they get to see the interconnection between the sciences. This particular lab’s construction and location shows a strong connection between physics and engineering. This connection between physics and engineering is once again shown on the mine tour where the class learns loads of history about the mining and geology of Minnesota.
On top of all the scientific benefits this trip has, DelZoppo says this trip is also just a fun experience for the kids. She exclaims enthusiastically, “The whole facility is one-half mile underground so we have to wear hardhats, dodge bats and ride in an antique elevator right out of a horror movie. All-in-all a pretty cool adventure plus science.”