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Physics Festival showcases program innovation


Pratheesh Jakkala, assistant professor of physics, wanted a way for students to engage with what they were learning in the classroom in a hands-on way while showing younger students that science can be fun.

From that hope, the first ever Illinois College Physics Festival was created.  

Dr. Jakkala tasked his classes with a semester-project to organize and oversee the festival. Not only did he encourage them to develop their own interactive exhibits, students also shared their works-in-progress on a Facebook page to collaborate, improve their work and promote the festival to the public with videos previewing their demonstrations.  

After months of planning, the event on March 16 was a success, drawing nearly 400 students from area middle and high schools. 

Students saw scientific concepts — like motion, electricity, waves, gravity and magnetism — in action with over 30 interactive displays and demonstrations all conceptualized and built by IC students. 

Helen Kuhn, IC’s registrar, was onsite throughout day to help with the festival. She enjoyed having so many area students on campus, and said the frequent quote of the day among the young visitors was,"I want to go to college here."

Illinois College physics major Zachary DeWitt ’20 designed and presented three projects, including one that illustrated the concept of a Wilberforce pendulum. He said the festival was as equally beneficial for the college students who presented their work as it was for those who attended. 

“This opportunity allowed me to learn how to explain physics to people who don’t necessarily have a background in it. I believe the skills I gained from this experience will be very beneficial for the engineering job I hope to have in the future, where it is crucial to be able to design and present ideas to management.”
Zachary DeWitt '20

Dewitt credits Dr. Jakkala for leading students through the process of planning and executing the festival, making sure they were thoroughly prepared with the tools and information needed to succeed. 

For more information about how your school or class can make plans to attend the 2019 IC Physics Festival, contact Pratheesh Jakkala at 217.245.3468 or

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of about 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932 the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Visit or call 217.245.3467 for more information.

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