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Interactive Plasma Physics Experience


found in: science; 3-5; 6-8; 9-12

Interactive Plasma Physics Experience (IPPEX) lets grade 5-12 science students explore fusion. Sections cover different aspects of plasma physics and magnetically confined fusion.

An animated video What Is Fusion?  (7:48) addresses the advantages of a non-fossil fuel that also avoids the waste disposal issues of fission; illustrates the fusion of two isotopes of hydrogen to create helium; describes the problems to be overcome in creating a suitable container, in this case a magnetic field, to achieve what the Sun does on a much larger scale; and concludes with a tour of the fusion device at Princeton.

Virtual Tokamak puts students in charge of a virtual magnetic confinement fusion reactor. In a simulation that uses an energy equilibrium model based on real plasma physics, students try to maximize electrical power output without making the plasma unstable. They can view three areas: the reactor, the heat exchange, and the city (to see how many city lights they have powered) and get more off-site information along the way by using keyboard shortcuts. Chances are they will become familiar with the “D” key when they first adjust the parameters of density, auxiliary power, and magnetic power and exceed the particle density limit. Every misstep gets a buzzer and a chance to readjust the parameters. But if they “damage” the device irreparably, they must restart the simulation.

With Remote Experiments,  lets students control a plasma, observe it, and do a quantitative plasma experiment. The Remote Planeterella Experiment  lets students control and observe auroras and magnetospheres or planetary ring currents.

Students with questions about plasmas, fusion or Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory can Ask a Plasma Physicist  using the form.

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