program_wb_i - page 64

Monday afternoon
Session BF: Outreach: Fun Ways to
Location: Tate Lab 133
Sponsor: Committee on Science Education for the Public
Co-Sponsor: Committee on Physics in Pre-High School Education
Date: Monday, July 28
Time: 1:30–3:20 p.m.
Presider: Jeremy Benson
1:30-1:40 p.m. Catch a Wave and SWIM to LIGO!
Contributed – Kathy Holt, LIGO -LLO Science Education Center, 19100 LIGO
Lane, Livingston, LA 70754;
SWIM-Science With Inexpensive Materials! The LIGO Science Education
Center uses inexpensive materials for activities and demonstrations to ex-
plain physical science concepts. Experience eight SWIM activities in eight
minutes. These SWIM activities have been field tested with the public and
are just downright fun! Come be inspired and motivated with ideas that
will engage and delight the public and can be useful at any grade level.
1:40-1:50 p.m. Western Kentucky Physics Olympics: A
Regional Success Story
Contributed – Richard Gelderman, Western Kentucky University, Bowling
Green, KY 42101-1077;
Jason Boyles,Keith Andrew, Western Kentucky University
Building upon the legacy of previous Physics Olympics at other institutions
(Riban, 1976,
Phys. Teach.
, 471), the Western Kentucky Physics Olym-
pics is a one-day team pentathalon competition. Our university was part
of the early Physics Olympics movement; however, by the mid-90s it had
managed to lose its way. When the 25th anniversary of Physics Olympics
was celebrated in 2000, we had misplaced all our institutional knowledge
and had to restart Physics Olympics from scratch. Our five-event format
is built around a theme and always includes a Do-Ahead, a Plan-Ahead,
a Communication-Calculation Challenge, an Impromptu Team Activity,
and Fermi Questions. We will present examples of our favorite events for
themes such as D.I.Y. Physics, The Science of Supervillans, Pirates of the
Bluegrass, or The Year of the Potato. Our hope is that Physics Olympics will
re-emerge as a national celebration of doing physics.
1:50-2 p.m. Physics Outreach and Community Engage-
ment at Simon Fraser University
Contributed – Sarah Durston Johnson, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC
V5A 1S6 Canada;
This talk gives an overview of the public outreach activities of the Depart-
ment of Physics at Simon Fraser University. Our largest single event with
a typical attendance of 700 people is the Science Spooktacular which
includes a Halloween-themed demo show and interactive activities for
school-aged children. Another popular event is our twice-yearly Girls
Exploring Physics workshop for girls in grades nine and 10. These half-day
workshops bring girls on campus to engage in hands-on activities and
interact with women physics students and faculty at SFU. Other outreach
activities include telescope workshops for children, Lasers in Action
workshops for grade eight students, Starry Nights sky observing sessions
and a collaboration with the TRIUMF Laboratory for Nuclear and Particle
Physics to present Saturday morning physics lectures to high school stu-
dents and the general public. Details about all of these events and how we
manage to do all of this on a limited budget will be presented.
2-2:10 p.m. Summer STEM Camps for South Carolina
7th-10th Graders
Contributed – Susan M. Engelhardt, South Carolina Governor’s School for
Science & Mathematics, Hartsville, SC 29550;
Come learn about our STEM summer camps that reach 1500+ rising 7th-
10th grade students. These camps are created and delivered by the South
Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) Center
for Science Education & Outreach. Our summer camp models will be
presented, featuring GoSciTech. This is a week-long residential program
that has just completed its 25th year, having served 500 students this sum-
mer alone. At GoSciTech, university professors teach a week-long course to
middle school students in a hands-on, interactive setting.
2:10-2:20 p.m. Physical Science Day: Design,
Implementation, and Assessment
Contributed – Liang Zeng, The University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg,
TX 78539;
Mark Cunningham, Steven Tidrow, Sara Hardage, Hector Leal, The Univer-
sity of Texas-Pan American*
Science coordinators from local school districts have reported their
students do not know what physics is about, the wide range of professions
physicists qualify for, and thus lack interest in learning physics. Physical
Science Day at The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA), in col-
laboration with Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District and
Weslaco Independent School District, has been designed, developed, and
implemented to raise the awareness of physics as a foundation of science,
engineering, and technology disciplines and promote students to study in
physical science degree programs at UTPA. Through activities including
lab experiments and student testimonies, our results show that the event is
effective at increasing student knowledge about physics, physical science
and chemistry programs as well as in stimulating youth interest toward
studying such disciplines at UTPA. Due to the success of Physical Science
Day, we are currently expanding the scale of the event to support the par-
ticipation of other interested school districts.
*Additional co-authors are: Mr. Chris Smith from the Department of Chemistry at
UTPA; Mr. Satya Kachiraju, Dr. Edgar Corpuz, Dr. Dorina Chipara from the Depart-
ment of Physics and Geology at UTPA; Ms. Jessica Salinas, Ms. Doris Mendiola, and
Ms. Karen Dorado from the Department of Community Engagement at UTPA; Dr.
Maria Luisa Guerra, Assistant Superintendent from ECISD; and Ms. Connie Sinoy,
Science Coordinator from WISD.
2:20-2:30 p.m. Kinematic Competitions for Classroom
Demonstrations and Outreach Events
Contributed – Elliot E. Mylott, Portland State University SRTC, Portland, OR
Justin C. Dunlap, Lester Lampert, Ralf Widenhorn, Portland State University
We present three competitions that quantitatively explore key physics
principles from mechanics with three fun physical challenges. They have
been used in multiple formats and venues including in the mechanics
section of Introductory General Physics at Portland State University (PSU)
and multiple outreach events both on campus and at local schools by the
Science Outreach Society, a student-led PSU group that promotes science
literacy in the community. Each competition uses an original, real-time
data collecting program, which offers a simple, clear method to demon-
strate various physics concepts including: (1) impulse-momentum, (2) cen-
ter of mass, and (3) kinematics. The user interface, written in LabVIEW, is
intuitive to operate and the competitions require only Vernier Force Plates,
a Vernier LabQuest, a webcam, and a computer. Each of these activities
is readily available and well-suited for audience participation at outreach
events or classroom demonstrations.
2:30-2:40 p.m. Engaging Families Through Children’s
Literature, Hands-on Activities, and Online Games
Contributed – Patricia Sievert, Northern Illinois University, NIU STEM Out-
reach, De Kalb, IL 60115;
Working in an interdisciplinary office of highly creative people has led us
to some interesting and engaging outreach activities. One of our newest
and more unique ventures is called STEMRead, a program that uses engag-
ing children’s books as a springboard for activities and online program-
ming that develops critical thinking skills and introduces STEM concepts
including physics. When possible, we involve authors, either in person or
in video interviews. We have materials to accompany several young adult
science fiction books, but I will focus on our more recent STEMRead Jr.
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