Spring Outreach Events

Spring is a big time for outreach here at Wooster Physics. The Physics Club runs demonstrations for local elementary schools, doing often two outreach visits a week during the spring.  (In the fall, we are usually prepping for this flurry of events — sending letters to the schools and doing scheduling, and training new students on the outreach activities.)

We also have two big events on campus.  The Physics Club runs Science Day, an event for all science clubs on campus  to do demos and fun activities for the whole community.  And we participate in Expanding Your Horizons, a huge event specifically for middle school girls that incorporates not just women science students and professors from the campus but also professional women from around the community whose job includes an aspect of science.

At Science Day, it’s fun to see what the other sciences on campus are doing.  The neuroscience club gets a lot of interest with the brains that they bring.

Brains! Brain hats! Lots of brains!
Build your own DNA — so popular, they had to run to the store for more gummy bears
Static charge is awesome!

New this year was a giant size demo from the Astronomy Club to demonstrate how massive objects warp the spacetime around them so that other smaller objects orbit the massive one.  This was lots of fun to play with!

Spheres orbiting a massive object warping the fabric of space around it

Air pressure is always a favorite, of course, with the liquid nitrogen parts. This year the demo even attracted President Bolton!  I think she had a fun morning with lots of physics — it’s probably a good change from administration.

The pink balloon slowly re-inflates as it warms back up to room temperature
President Bolton enjoys a little physics for her spring Saturday.
Bubbling multi-colored lava lamps from chemistry.
Static charge is awesome!

For Expanding Your Horizons, I do the same workshop three times for different groups of girls.  We do the “Humpty Dumpty” experiment, where the girls have about 20 minutes with limited materials to create a container to try to protect an egg from breaking during a fall. We drop the eggs from the 3rd floor, so it’s pretty challenging! This year, Dr. DeGroot joined me and we had lots of fun.  I love seeing the creativity of the girls — not only in making their containers, but also in decorating and naming their eggs.

Boxes? Cushioning? Parachutes? What else can we try?
Wrapping the eggs up takes lots of hands and coordination!
An anxious little egg, waiting in eggs-pectation of the fall.

After helping with the Humpty Dumpty experiment for three years, Justine decided to try it out herself!

And the moment of truth — dropping the eggs from a great height! If the eggs survive, we add them to the Egg Hall of Fame!

The moment of truth — will the eggs survive?

Most of the eggs this year made it! Lesson learned = parachutes really work!

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