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Quantum Information Science and Condensed Matter Theory
Part of the Virginia Tech Center for Quantum Information Science and Engineering (VTQ)

I run a high school outreach program that involves making presentations on quantum mechanics, quantum information science, and condensed matter physics to high school physics classes in the Blacksburg, VA area and in northern Virginia. I also co-created the 4-day VT Quantum Information Science and Engineering (QISE) Summer School for high school students and teachers. These activities are designed to make high-school students and teachers acquainted with basic aspects of quantum mechanics and the prevalent role it plays in modern research and technology. Students are also given an overview of what scientific research careers entail and how to prepare for them. The goal of this program is to attract more students into research careers in Physics and more broadly in STEM fields. These efforts are explained in further detail in the following preprint: arXiv:2005.07874. We also have a related effort geared toward middle-school students in collaboration with the PhysicsQuest program of the American Physical Society.

Given the significance and rapid growth of QISE, educating the future workforce in this field is very important. In my outreach and educational efforts, I focus on familiarizing both high-school students and freshman college students with the key concepts of QISE by using hands-on exercises, presented as games, that exemplify the working principles of quantum algorithms and quantum information protocols, and by working with the IBM Quantum Composer. I do not assume any familiarity with linear algebra. Instead, by adopting a simple approach developed by Terry Rudolph in his popular science book 'Q is for Quantum', the mathematical manipulations become essentially trivial, and the students have the opportunity to focus on the concepts. In collaboration with Sophia Economou, I have also extended these ideas into a semester-long freshman-level course on QISE called 'Hello Quantum World!', which is a centerpiece of the undergraduate minor degree in QISE offered at Virginia Tech

"Money or tiger" is an example of a simple puzzle I designed that illustrates how quantum mechanics can be used to perform information processing tasks that are not possible on a classical machine. There are two doors, one of which has money behind it. A button on the wall opens both doors at once. You know that there may be a tiger behind one of the doors, and there is a device on the wall that can be queried separately for each door to determine whether there is a tiger behind it. Classically, the device needs to be used twice--once for each door--to determine whether or not there is a tiger. Using the laws of quantum mechanics, it is possible to query the device only once to determine whether it is safe to open the doors and collect the money.

High-school physics educators who would like to host these activities and Virginia Tech students who are interested in participating are encouraged to contact me.