Adopt-a-Physicist in Verse

Share This:




Adopt-a-Physicist in Verse

Every year, Sigma Pi Sigma’s Adopt-a-Physicist (A-a-P) program gives high schoolers from around the world the opportunity to “adopt” physicists for a few weeks and interact with them through an online forum. This year, students in Matthew Anticole’s physics classes submitted poems about their experiences and what they learned from their adopted physicists.

Toward the end of the A-a-P session, students complete a short report that includes responses to questions about the physicist, their field of study, and notable points of conversation. Students are also asked to write a haiku that in some way connects with their physicist. I choose that format because, first, I just like haiku. But from an academic standpoint, the 5-7-5–syllable format forces students to be thoughtful both about which aspect of their conversations they pick and the words they choose to describe it. Not every student manages to pull off a perfect haiku, but it is neat to see them try.

For me, I think the most impactful haiku from this year is one written by one of my female students after a conversation with Dr. Sethanne Howard, who shared her experiences being the only female in her degree program. None of the male students would study with Dr. Howard outside of class, but being forced to always work on her own made her an expert on the material.

I look forward every year to this great opportunity for our students to get a window into a profession that most of them have no experience with. I always introduce things by retelling the story of a student from several years ago whose conversation with her adopted physicist catalyzed her decision to pursue an astronomy degree. Now she’s a graduate student in astrophysics and a current participant in the A-a-P program herself! Thanks to everyone who volunteers for the program; you never know which kid you’re going to connect with or whether your interaction will change their trajectory. It absolutely does happen!


All around you,
Situations come and go,
Learning to follow the flow

You will grow and change,
And learn tools to help you.
You will learn and apply

Let your tools help you
Become the best version
Of what you dreamed


You’d think Sports and
Science would be separate,
One in the classroom
and one on the field,
but how wrong you are.

Lacrosse, a sport of speed, intensity,
And science! With lacrosse and hockey
Sticks are involved creating an extension of our bodies
which means torque and
Angular momentum is involved. The placement
Of your hands causes your stick to undergo a
rotation. The lacrosse stick rotates at an angular speed
Making your shot accelerate

Lacrosse isn’t the only sport
To incorporate physics. Lacrosse,
hockey, and tennis are all examples
Of torque and angular momentum playing
A big role in the sport


What do you love most about physics
I love particle physics -whoosh-
Really, what are they like?

They are very strange like ghosts -booooo-
100 neutrinos passing through -oooooh-
How do you understand these if you’re confused?

Working with a partner always helped me-eeeee.
Thank you for answering my question it really helped

Now when I have a question
I won’t yelp as much.
Oh yeah you’re welcome a bunch.


Engineering is
More than just a simple task
Of tinkering things.

Teamwork makes everything tick,
The parts of the machine cannot
Work without everybody involved.

A childhood of trains
Has led me to believe that I
Belong in this field forever.


NASA was harder,
But they experienced more
Than the Navy.

The Navy had a way
With the rules.
But NASA was all
About breaking those rules.

NASA is breaking
All natural rules,
But these rules were meant
To be broken.


I have a question
Whether it’s physics or not
I would like to know

How can you measure
Things you cannot see on Earth?
Seems impossible.

Well, I was informed,
Lasers can precisely make
Accurate answers.


Your favorite thing?
Telescope in the night sky,
Atop a mountain


Sethanne Howard is
The first woman in her class
Accomplished so much

Quotes from students:

“One thing I learned from my physicist is that you really never stop learning. He summed it up metaphorically, [saying] that you are consistently adding tools to your toolbox. These ‘tools’ stay with you throughout your life and give you the ability to apply them to any situation that appears in your path. As your toolbox grows, the pride for your toolbox does as well.”

“Physics is not just about physically discovering new worlds like in its applications to astronomy and cosmology, but it’s also about conceptually discovering new worlds like the quantum world.”

“[I learned] that having a career isn’t always about the money you make; it’s about having a sense of purpose and being a part of something.”

“I learned that computer science is vital to the astrophysics field, and in order to be successful in this field it is important to learn different programming languages.”

“It is important to consider your values when looking for a job so that you can find a workplace that you feel matches what you value.”

More from this Department