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Friday, Aug. 29, 2014

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Trenton students learn about energy at PPPL

In a quest for knowledge about energy and solar power, 17 high school students from the Trenton area are building solar-powered devices and shooting toy rockets at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) .

The hands-on activities are part of Plasma Academy (officially called the Energy, Space and the Environment Institute), which began Aug. 6 and runs through Aug. 17 at the PPPL. Topics covered are solar energy; clouds, weather and storms; and the sun, stars, planets and plasmas (hot, ionized gases). The institute is part of a Mercer County Community College Upward Bound program. The participating students are from Granville Academy, Mercer Junior-Senior High School and Trenton Central High School.

"This is the first time we are offering an academy like this for high school students," said PPPL Science Education Program Lead Scientist Andrew Post-Zwicker, who designed and leads the Plasma Academy with Watchung Hills High School physics teacher Sophia Gershman. "Designing and constructing useful solar-powered devices such as model cars, water heaters and ovens, as well as shooting toy rockets and aircraft, are tasks that show the students how energy is transformed in different ways and where energy comes from."

The academy also includes field trips to a coal-fired plant in Trenton, the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and the Peddie School Observatory in Hightstown.

The PPPL, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by Princeton University, is a collaborative national center for science and innovation leading to an attractive fusion energy source. The laboratory is on Princeton's James Forrestal Campus, off U.S. Route 1 in Plainsboro.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601

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