In today’s rapidly evolving world, technological advancements are transforming how we live, work, and communicate. Quantum information science and computing, a groundbreaking field at the intersection of physics, mathematics, and computer science, holds tremendous potential to revolutionize various sectors, including cryptography, drug discovery, optimization problems, and machine learning. Recognizing the significance of this emerging field, it becomes increasingly important to introduce high school students to the fundamental concepts of quantum information science and computing. To do this, the Chicago Quantum Exchange network has partnered with Boeing and many other organizations to produce a video series for high school students. “Overall, we wanted to engage students,” explained Kate Timmerman, CEO of the Chicago Quantum Exchange. “We hoped to communicate the excitement of quantum and to demystify quantum information science and engineering. Through this video series, we wanted to capture students’ interests and attention, and hopefully even inspire them to dig a little further while in high school.”
Titled Quick Quantum: For High Schoolers, the video series showcases five-minute videos sponsored by Boeing and featuring expert opinions by some of the leading quantum scientists in the ecosystem. Timmerman and others at the Chicago Quantum Exchange hope to inspire students to continue learning quantum computing via other courses or instructors using humor, engaging animations, and vivid science. “This is just a video series,” added Timmerman. “It’s not a course; we don’t aim to help people get a Ph.D. in quantum physics with a five-minute video series. But part of this is that we really want to meet people where they are, which is watching videos online.” Timmer also explained that the videos focus on real-world applications as much as possible, grounding the information in relevant case studies.
During development, Timmerman and her team were surprised by the reception of this project. Timmerman elaborated: “We worked with a bunch of scientists, educators, and high school students to come up with the videos. One of the things that came out when we were talking to high school students was they actually wanted more information. As a result, they requested assessments with the videos. So, because of them, we put together a glossary and a quiz to really provide them with that fuller experience, of course, if people are interested.” All of the materials, along with the videos, are also available to viewers, allowing curious minds to learn more.
While the video series only has three videos out (the next one is set to be released on August 10), each video covers a different aspect of quantum technology, from entanglement to qubits. This early exposure to quantum principles stimulates students’ desire to explore the mysteries of the universe and empowers them to ask probing questions about the fundamental nature of reality. The final video will conclude by discussing the possible careers within the quantum ecosystem, a powerful reminder of how this ecosystem promises successful careers for the incoming workforce.
Chicago Quantum Exchange Goes to High School
To make the videos relevant to a younger audience, Timmerman and her team got creative. “There was a lot of back and forth about simplifying concepts while keeping them as accurate as possible. It’s a really tough balance, especially with technical concepts like quantum information,” added Timmerman. “We tried to have moments of humor, some spoken and some not spoken. I think that’s one of the ways we were really trying to engage high school students, but distinct from an actual course.” Like many others at the Chicago Quantum Exchange, Timmerman hopes this video series is just a starting point for students to learn about quantum computing. “There are tons of different courses, so we’re really aiming to inspire high school students,” she said. “Then, hopefully, they can, of course, dig in more online. If they’re interested, connect with the teachers to teach them more about quantum.”
Teaching quantum information science and computing to high school students is essential for preparing them for the future and equipping them with the skills and knowledge required in a rapidly evolving technological landscape. Educators can empower students to become active contributors and leaders in quantum information science by fostering scientific curiosity, interdisciplinary thinking, and problem-solving skills. While the video series by the Chicago Quantum Exchange is one of many quantum education resources out there, its importance in inspiring the next generation of the quantum workforce cannot be overstated.
Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is a staff writer at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, quantum computing, and AI. Her work has been featured in Scientific American, Discover Magazine, Ars Technica, and more.