Physics: The Fundamental Concepts for Understanding the Universe | W19

Ages: 11-18
Day, Time: Fridays, 1:15-2:15
Location: Room 2


Joe Olson

Joe Olson graduated from the University of Washington with a BS in physics in 1986. While at the UW, he was one of the first five people on the planet to see a single trapped ion directly through a microscope. After a year of graduate study at SUNY Stony Brook, Joe returned to the UW to work as a research engineer at the Nuclear Physics Laboratory (now known as CENPA, the Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics). Although his training is as a physicist, his passion is the study of whale and dolphin communication. As such, nearly twenty-five years ago, Joe founded and is the president of Cetacean Research Technology, where he designs and manufactures hydrophones and other underwater and bioacoustics instrumentation for scientists, students, artists, and whale enthusiasts to study, explore and enjoy the world of underwater sound.

class description

This class will review some of the fundamental principles of physics in a conceptual manner and will also touch on the basic equations that explain them. Some of the principles covered will include Newton’s Laws of Motion and wave mechanics. Other topics and the depth to which we explore them will be tailored to the curiosity, interest, and skill level of the students. While we will concentrate on understanding physical concepts, mathematical concepts will also be introduced for those with more advanced mathematical skills to explore the relationship between the two. There will also be demonstrations of physical concepts when possible.

It is commonly thought that physics is a difficult subject to comprehend and is only accessible to advanced university students. While it’s true that advanced physics can be very complex and difficult to understand, it is my experience that nearly all physical phenomena can be understood by anyone, if they have the desire to do so. For example, in previous classes I’ve taught (for kids aged 8 to 14), we have covered topics ranging from kinematics to relativity to quantum mechanics, and the kids loved it and achieved a strong grasp of the concepts.

Please bring along any questions you may have, and don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask them. We hope to see you in class!

Required Skills for Students to Be Successful in This Class:

Compliance with Family Rights & Responsibilities.

A strong curiosity about how the universe works.



field trips:


additional fees/supplies:

Pencil/Pen and gridded graph paper.

parent involvement:

This class is intended for students only.

Age Variances:

Please see our Age Variance Policy.