Eighty-two Fontainebleau High sophomores visited the LIGO Livingston observatory as part of their physical science classes on March 13.

Scientists working at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatories in Livingston and in Hanford, Washington, won the Nobel Prize in 2017 after recording the first directed observation of gravitational waves causing a ripple in the space-time continuum.

At LIGO, students were separated into three groups to explore the site. The observatory gave students access to a room with many hands-on experiments. Most students said it was their favorite part of the field trip. The room held contraptions that allowed the students to look closely at how different types of waves work, including light, sound and mechanical waves.

Students also were given a tour behind the scenes of how LIGO scientists measure gravitational waves and where the Nobel-winning idea began.

The last stop on the trip was a classroom with many fascinating activities that involved magnets. For example, a magnet was attached to a wooden pencil, and the goal was to make the pencil stand up on its own in a cup with four other magnets around it.

The ultimate goal was to get the pencil to stand up with only one magnet on the edge of the cup.

Carlie Cintrón, a sophomore, explained why the long trip was worth her time.

“I loved learning how they noticed the gravitational waves, and I was amazed by the different types of contraptions that they had for our learning experience.”