Frequently Asked Questions

Fall 2020 – Online Program


The Fall 2020 Session of Saturday Morning Physics will be held online via Zoom.  Accepted applicants will receive an email with the Zoom meeting information Saturday morning around 8:00 AM.  Interactive Zoom lectures will begin at 9:00 AM followed by virtual tours or panel discussions.  Everything will be done by 12:00 PM at the latest.


Who may participate?

The program is open to any high school student who is in a public, private, or parochial school, or in a home-schooled program.

By the way, once you have graduated from SMP, you are welcome to return to see a lecture again or to catch a lecture that you missed the first time around. Drop us an e-mail a few days ahead so we can save you a spot.


When does registration open and close?

We usually open online registration the first week of August and close it in January after the last session begins.


Where are the lectures given?

Lectures are given in Wilson Hall (GPS: 41°50’19.6″N+88°15’40.3″W). The conference room is usually One West, but this might change depending on the specific events going on at Fermilab each Saturday. We’ll let you know in advance if the room changes.

When are the lectures given?

The lectures begin promptly at 9 AM, Chicago time. We recommend you arrive at Wilson Hall no later than 8:45 AM. There is a break near 10 AM, and the tours start at 11 AM. SMP is over most of the time by noon, although some tours run over a little.

Who gives the lectures?

Volunteer scientists and engineers from the Fermilab community give the lectures.

Do I need to bring anything?

Only something for taking notes. And questions—we love your questions!

May parents and teachers attend?

It is our goal to make these lectures a welcoming place for the target audience: high school students. To that end, we have developed a set of guidelines so that parents and siblings may attend without disturbing the participation, education, and enjoyment of these students.

Everyone should come on graduation day; we have a special lecture/Q&A for parents and teachers that runs parallel to the students’ graduation lecture. Siblings are welcome to attend either of these lectures.

Can I bring my little brother or sister?

Your younger siblings (in middle school or younger) are welcome to come to the last lecture. The other lectures could be too much for them.

What if it is snowing? Will class be canceled?

If Fermilab is closed, we cannot have the lecture. This has only happened a couple of times in the history of SMP. If we are canceled, we will update the home page of this website with that information, send an e-mail to the registered students, and Fermilab Security will be informed. The decision to cancel SMP will happen by 6 AM on Saturday.


Are any of the tours outside Fermilab?

No, tours are given exclusively of the Fermilab facilities. For a detailed list of tours, follow the Tours link on the left side of the page.

What are the tours of?

Tours include the laboratory’s accelerator, research, and industrial facilities. For a detailed list of tours, follow the Tours link on the side of the page.

Who gives the tour?

The tours are given by volunteer scientists and engineers from the Fermilab community.

May I take pictures?

Absolutely! In fact, we encourage it. If you post your pictures to social media, use the hashtag #FermilabSMP.

I’ve sat through the lecture, but I need to leave early. Can I skip the tour?

Yes, missing a tour will not count as an absence.

May parents and teachers attend the tours?

There are some tours that cannot accommodate any extra participants, so adults, teachers and siblings should wait at Wilson Hall during the tours.

Note that Fermilab offers a variety of public tours; see See also our Eligibility page.


Do we need to take a test to graduate?

No, there will be no test at any point during the program.

Do we get a certificate?

Certificates of Accomplishment will be awarded to those students who have attended at least eight of the first ten classes, (excluding class 11, which is also graduation day). Perfect Attendance awards are given to those who attend the first 10 classes (not including the 11th).

Excused absences are accepted for students who are taking the ACT and/or SAT tests or are attending a School Science Olympiad. Those taking the ACT and/or SAT must e-mail a copy of their entry ticket (including photo) to for verification. For the Science Olympiad, we need a letter from the S.O. coach/teacher stating the name of student, date, and location of event.

These documents must be submitted via e-mail no later than 5 PM on the Monday prior to graduation to qualify. No exceptions!

Do we get a degree?

No, you do not get a degree. Some schools give special credits for those who attended SMP.

I earned a certificate, but I couldn’t make it to the graduation ceremony. How can I get it?

We can mail it to you. If you know in advance you can’t make it to the final class and you are eligible for a certificate, you can have a friend pick it up for you after the ceremony.

Do we need to wear a tuxedo/dress?

Obviously you haven’t seen how we dress. No, you don’t need to wear any special clothes; we just try to focus on the content and to keep things very informal. However, you might want to leave the T-shirts and tank tops at home for the graduation; we often take pictures.