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Plasma Science and Fusion Center

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


outreach at the psfc

K-12 Outreach

PSFC Tours

The PSFC is dedicated to teaching science through direct experience, whether it is addressing students, political

high school students tour alcator c-mod tokamak
High School students tour the Alcator C-Mod tokamak facility.

representatives or the general public. To illustrate scientific and engineering principles, graduate students at the Center have helped create hands-on educational tools, including a plasma demonstration device and an interactive tokamak video game. Through such demonstrations and tours of working experiments, MIT students and staff share the excitement of plasma research.

Tours of the PSFC are recommended for students in middle school or high school, and typically include an overview about plasma and fusion, as well as a tour of MIT's fusion experiment, the Alcator C-Mod tokamak. For a quick video overview and tour of Alcator C-Mod, click here. Other plasma experiments may be toured, depending on time and availability.

  • Two weeks advance notice required
  • Tours last 60 - 90 minutes
  • Ideal tour size is 20 people or fewer. Larger tours are possible, but may require more time to plan.

Contact: Paul Rivenberg,

"Just a few words of thanks for arranging the tour of your facilty last Friday for our Suffolk University students. Both presenteres were outstanding, so please extend my thanks to them as well. Most students knew very little about fusion, tokamaks, and all the cool science that goes with it. I think everyone was quite fascinated with what they heard and saw, and all came back with a great deal of enthusiasm." - Greg Sonek, ECE Department, Suffolk University

graduate student fields questions about Alcator C-Mod
During a middle school outreach day a graduate student fields questions about fusion while students use a video game to learn how magnets confine plasma in the Alcator C-Mod tokamak.

High School and Middle School Outreach Days

Twice a year the PSFC reaches out to High Schools or Middle Schools around Massachusetts, inviting one teacher and

two students to a spend a day at the Center. Through tours, talks and demonstrations, attendees learn about plasmas, their behavior, and their role in harnessing fusion energy. Students will have the opportunity to see how plasmas are confined, to perform hands-on demonstrations with electromagnetism, and to review the progress of MIT's Alcator C-MOD tokamak, one of two working U.S. magnetic fusion devices currently funded by the Department of Energy. Other experiments may also be available for viewing.

Middle School Outreach 2015 - April 16

High School Outreach 2015 - TBD

Contact: Paul Rivenberg,

Other MIT Educational Outreach Programs

For further information about other MIT educational outreach programs for students, parents, and educators at the pre-kindergarten through twelfth-grade level, see MIT's Outreach Resources


National Outreach

The American Physical Society - Division of Plasma Physics

This group sponsors a successful series of national outreach days in conjunction

students introduced to the properties of plasma at aps
Students are introduced to the properties of plasma at the annual APS meeting.

with their annual meeting, which is held in a different North American city each Fall.  Local teachers are invited to special talks and workshops, and students are brought to a "Plasma Sciences Expo" where they are encouraged to explore a roomful of hands-on physics experiments. 

Some participating laboratories and institutions:

The Coalition for Plasma Science

The Coalition does outreach to Congress, the general public and plasma-related institutions.  They have recently created A Teacher's Guide to Plasma Science on the Web, which lists plasma education web sites and analyzes them against the National Science Standards.