High school outreach device Laptag


LAPTAG was founded in 1993 during a meeting sponsored by the APS, which encouraged high schools and Universities to form alliances. There are currently about twenty high schools, several community colleges and two Universities (UCLA and USC) involved..

At first LAPTAG organized tours of laboratories at UCLA, USC, JPL, General Atomics and the Mt. Wilson Observatory and had meetings in which issues on curricula were discussed. It became obvious after awhile that in order for the group to last that projects were necessary.

An early project involved having the high school faculty and students create Websites for most of the schools. This was before most the schools could afford Internet connections and Web authoring tools did not exist. Then with funding from the UC Office of the President, a seismology project was initiated and ten schools received seismometers. There were lectures by geologists and staff members of the Southern California Earthquake center; results were reported on the Web.

In the spring of 1999 LAPTAG gave seven posters at the Condensed Matter APS meeting in Los Angeles. A web based astronomy course was created and high school students controlled the Mount Wilson telescope remotely and studied a variable star. Since then it has made presentations at the APS-DPP Spring meeting in Washington and in Chicago (2012), and the AAPT meeting in santa Monica (2013). Laptag has published twice in the American Journal of Physics (see facility publications list)

Our latest project, funded by the Department of Energy resulted in the construction of a plasma lab dedicated to LAPTAG. The lab has equipment that is used by practicing plasma physicists (tone-burst generators, digital scopes, digital data acquisition and computerized probe drives) as well as software (LabView, PVwave). The high school students and teachers built the machine and all the associated diagnostics. Examples of the experiments will be given, however it is not a cookbook lab. As new experiments are introduced the same difficulties we all face must be overcome; the students take part in this.

The LAPD laboratory is now a National User Facility and LAPTAG is a key component of its outreach program. We have met with the director of science for the Los Angeles Unified School district, and others, to muster resources to allow many more schools to participate. This and plans for other programs such as the Integration of Art and Science, will be presented.

The High School Plasma Lab is open to all students interested in physics. We meet most Saturdays from 9:30 am to 2 pm. The Laptag laboratory is in 1000 Veteran Avenue, Room 11-15. All students are welcome to join. Please contact us if you are interested or have any questions.

For the latest information, visit the Wiki-Style Site for LAPTAG.

Grant providers include the University of California Office of the President. Government sponsors are the National Science Foundations and the United States Department of Energy Office of Science.


photograph of collifing laser plasma and B field data