Igniting Passions: Power of Physics

Power of Physics: Prepare for the Future

Most people shy away from anything to do with physics, but unlocking its power is a way to help students become the technology leaders and specialists of tomorrow.  I'm Paul Haiducu, a physics teacher at a high school in central Indiana for 19 years, and physics is my passion. I've even received a presidential award and global recognition sparked by my love of physics and desire to ignite that same love in children. Through my Power of Physics (POP) Project, I've been attracting students to physics and science, inspiring them to pursue the possibilities that understanding physics opens to them. 

For nearly ten years, I've entertained and captivated children locally through my free, interactive POP shows using grants and personal funds. 

However, my dream is to take it to the next level (and beyond) by making my Power of Physics show mobile and even more evocative, transforming physics knowledge into a lifelong passion and gateway to a better future for children throughout North America. To do this, however, I need your help with funding.

We educate today for a world we can only imagine

Our world needs bright, inquisitive, excited young minds ready to enter the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields of study. The World Economic Forum predicts that 1/3 of the skills required to perform today's jobs will be entirely new by 2020. Also, 2/3 of children entering primary school today will ultimately work jobs that do not yet exist. Consequently, it's vital that teachers meet this challenge by highlighting new trends and discoveries for our children.  One way to do this is to adapt teaching by interactively integrating innovations in technology and new approaches to classroom learning. We must predict and meet the needs of a tomorrow fundamentally different from today.

Igniting passions

By now, you may be wondering how I make physics exciting, especially for children.  Since I'm passionate about it, my love and enthusiasm infuse my approach to paying it forward. To ignite positive passions, I designed and created the "Power of Physics" (POP) Project, which is a fun and inspirational glimpse into physics. The POP Project combines physics and marketing possibilities, allowing audiences to find what interests them. Together with some of my best students, I've staged a yearly POP Show for high school students and community members.

My Power of Physics shows are entertainingly interactive presentations of physics experiments, both classic and original, designed to attract and inspire as many people as possible, although the show is primarily designed to attract and inspire children.  Even the classic experiments can be quite visually spectacular, especially something such as Ruben's tube (used to demonstrate acoustic standing waves--like a grill with flames dancing to music), liquid nitrogen (imagine reactions when I use a banana to drive a nail into a board), vacuum equipment (e.g. balloons self-inflate, ping-pong balls are shot through cans, volunteers try to separate vacuumed hemispheres that cannot be taken apart), or vortex formation (doughnut-like formations "fly" and race above the audience).  The fun plotlines woven throughout the shows are designed to attract and entertain as many people as possible, especially children.  As the story unfolds, we include demonstrations that stimulate the imagination, generate laughter, and open minds to the amazing power of physics in its many forms and applications.

The shows are also memorable for the way in which these physics concepts are presented to the audience.  For instance, one show revolves around a physics teacher (me) who traveled to Romania and Transylvania but returned acting strangely with behavior that reminds his students of Dracula.  When he appears on stage, his student assistants ask for help from the audience to solve the mystery of their teacher's strange exhibitions of power (physics demonstrations). Another show brings back the Dracula persona, who engages in battle with a Samurai (in a style seen in the movie Inception), each trying to impress the other with his powers.  The characters draw their powers from the mysteries of physics and delight the audience with a variety of experiments that also draw them into the show.  Other favorites examine the connection between dance, robotics, and music through physics or intertwined the games, food, and knowledge of another culture with physics.   For younger audiences, I have a "Magic… or Science?" show that begins with imaginative POP video commercials (here are some examples: TP, fog, floating ball , coke can destroyer, 'Out of love', explosion , black hole) followed by lively demonstrations and explanations of the seemingly magical effects revealed in the video.  All of the shows are enhanced with live video feed, POP video clips, and/or PowerPoint explanations.  Of course, there's always audience participation.

When I was a young boy, my father fascinated me with physics experiments in his classroom, and later, as a teacher in front of my own students, I realized that igniting passions are born at a young age. My POP Show is perfect for generating excitement about physics and all of it myriad possibilities, so I started taking it on the road to elementary and middle school students in my school corporation and gradually expanded to neighboring schools. Over the years, I've received and saved thousands of written notes from young, enthused, and fascinated students who speak about their first encounter with physics. From the very beginning of the POP Project, I have carried imprinted in my memory the happiness and awe in their eyes, the forest of hands raised to be picked as a volunteer during the show, and the applause and enthusiastic cheers at the end of each demonstration and show.

Mission and Vision

The entertainingly educational POP Show strives to inspire students and satisfy the need for physics and science knowledge so they can be better informed when preparing for their future profession.  Unlike the physics shows staged by large physics departments on campuses throughout the world (and which inspired me), my POP Project gradually evolved so the physics shows could be taken on the road. This traveling version of the POP Show enabled me to reach other public and private schools as well as libraries. As a result, it reaches hundreds, perhaps thousands, of students annually. Initially, the POP Show was supported financially by educational and physics associations, other sponsors, and my own personal funds. Unfortunately, these funds, much of which I provided myself but cannot afford to continue to, are almost gone due to the initial set-up costs and the need to replenish and add supplies to keep the show original and fresh. Without additional funds, the POP Show will no longer be able to travel even to area schools or explore innovative additions.

The POP Project is designed to act in three principal directions:

1. Attract students to physics and science, starting at an age when passions are born;

2. Promote the importance of studying physics in school to advance understanding of natural world complexity and prepare for cutting edge technological fields;

3. Contribute to students developing into global citizens, aware of the current international challenges and ready to contribute to finding viable solutions through:

3.1  training the critical thinking skills – a crucial quality for understanding  natural laws and their applications;

3.2   promoting the importance of building the basic knowledge needed to understand a world in which the technological advances happen incredibly fast;

3.3  advancing the idea of ​​tolerance in a world strongly influenced by cultural factors;

3.4   actively encouraging equal opportunities for everyone.

How can your donation improve the POP Project and make a difference in the life of many children?

I believe that most of us have a strong desire to make a difference in our chosen professional field. Your contributions to my fund will breathe life into my dream of creating an expanded traveling Power of Physics Show that I can take throughout North America rather than just communities near my school corporation in Indiana.  In this way, you can also help get students involved in and excited about studying science, especially physics. My "Power of Physics" Project (POP) would be an important step to capture students' attention and generate excitement. With limited funding, I've already seen outstanding results locally. If POP garners attention on a broader level, it will be an extraordinary tool to help prepare our children for the challenges of a technological future.

My popular POP Show had humble beginnings at the high school where I teach, then hit the road to several nearby schools and educational venues using rented school buses. However, I'm sure you can see the limitations. To sustain and expand the project, I need to put the show on its own wheels, create a plethora of new demonstrations and enticing commercials for it, and find long-term sponsorship. For this, I need your help.

If the project is funded on GoFundMe.org, the funds will enable me to take the POP Project to exciting new levels, inspiring countless young minds with the possibilities their futures hold. The show will travel to schools, conferences, and educational institutions throughout North America. With the logistical help of local government and other organizations as well as your donations, the POP Show will tour as many educational venues as allowable and feasible, especially those communities with pressing educational needs.

Levels of funds obtained

Based on the funds raised, the POP Project could have three different levels/objectives:

Level 1 (raised funds under $50,000): The POP Project can continue at the current level. The Power of Physics Show will be taken to nearby schools and educational venues. However, many new demonstrations will be created, and the physics shows will be improved and renewed in accordance with the funds obtained.

Level 2 (raised funds $50,000-$100,000): In addition to Level 1 objectives, the POP Project will acquire its own set of wheels (a van) and travel to many locations for staging physics shows during all four of my annual vacations for 2-3 years (at least 7-8 weeks of travel and shows each year).

Level 3 (raised funds $100,000-$200,000): In addition to Levels 1 and 2 objectives, the POP Project will travel 7-8 weeks each year for 5-6 years.

Level 4 (raised funds $200,000-$999,000): In addition to Levels 1 and 2 objectives, the POP Project will travel 7-8 weeks each year for 10-12 years.

Level 5 (raised funds reaching $1,000,000): In addition to Levels 1 through 4 objectives, my spouse and I will dedicate the reminder of our professional lives, full-time, to the Power of Physics Project, travelling much more since it will no longer depend upon my annual vacation time. My experience and training (two advanced degrees in physics and biophysics, 19 years teaching experience, and 9 years of managing the POP Project) and my spouse’s experience (advanced degree and teaching experience, multiple languages, and marketing and communication training) will allow us to easily accomplish the mission and objectives of the project and make our ambition and dream come true to inspire far more children than is now possible.

Furthermore, at the last level, the project will be enriched with two new dimensions. The first is writing a “how to” digital / printed book which will describe how to create the classic demonstrations used during the POP Shows as well as some innovatively novel laboratories that make use of the new equipment the funding will make possible. The book will be given away to physics teachers who share my passion, and I will be available for help if requested. Furthermore, I will create a startup kit for teachers interested in designing their own physics show (including a ping-pong shooter able to project a ping-pong ball at speeds of 6-800 mph, space-time distortion simulation and planetary motion models, vortex formation box, etc.). This way, many more similar physics shows can be created, greatly amplifying the number of students reached in a chain reaction style.

The POP Project has its own social media presence, including promotion using a wide range of POP commercials , which allows students and their teachers to benefit from it. Sustained marketing will further boost interest in the POP Project and result in world-wide interest as well as acknowledgement of the major sponsors/donors (as my selfless sponsors for the next 12-15 years). The GoFundMe contributions could make the Power of Physics Project become a powerful tool and gateway to a positive future for a vast audience of enthusiastic and inspired children.

 I greatly appreciate your contribution! Each dollar matters!

Paul Haiducu,

MS Physics and Biophysics

Physics Teacher
Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Awardee
Global Teacher Prize Top 50 Finalist
Eli Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow

Donations (0)

  • Jeffrey Hampton 
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Cristina Careeste 
Danville, IN
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