Oscar had a very busy day on Saturday. He spent the day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. crawling across thousands of hands, arms and shoulders with gasps of “disgusting,” “neat” and “ahhhh,” echoing during each incident.
Oscar, a millipede from Africa, took part in the 12th annual Little Shop of Physics open house.
“Physics is a part of everyday life, it’s nice to get people to see more than electrical cool stuff for physics,” senior bioagriculture sciences major Shiloh McCollum said.
McCollum, a member of the Gillette Entomology Club, handled Oscar and a few hissing cockroaches throughout the day on Saturday.
This year’s theme for the Little Shop of Physics open house was “Discover Your Inner Scientist.” The program emphasized how science surrounds everyone and demonstrated experiments that could be completed using household items.
“People too often think that science is hard or something only researchers can do with special equipment,” said Brian Jones, Little Shop of Physics director, in a press release. “We created the little shop to show students that science is fun, that anyone can do it and that you can use everyday household objects to get great scientific results.”
Although the expected attendance was 4,000, employee Rochelle Arvizo, a research assistant in the chemistry department, said she believed over 6,000 people attended the open house.
She said the attendance was so high due to the program’s advertising and community outreach. Recently the group returned from Belize and El Salvador where they lead teacher-training sessions and programs for school-aged children.
Each year the Little Shop of Physics visits schools all over the nation, presenting the program to about 15,000 students each year from kindergarten to 12th grade.
The program’s 70+ experiments were built and designed by CSU students and were focused on hands-on activities and experiments with a high level of mobility so they can be taken to different venues.
“There’s nothing else like it, it’s a nationally recognized event, world wide it’s THE program,” Arvizo said. “It’s very dependent on physics spoken on a personal level. Physics is for everybody, not just for college professors.”
Among the experiments were the Plasma Mug, the Night Fishin’ and the Cup o’ Cloud, which individuals could do alone with occasional advice from little shop volunteers and staff members.
Complimenting the experiments were 30-minute presentations throughout the day put on by physics students and professors. These presentations included “Lickety-Split Ice Cream,” in which the presenters made ice cream with the use of liquid nitrogen.
For 7-year-old Ryan Bartels the ice cream was the highlight of the open house.
“The ice cream (was my favorite),” Bartels said. “It tasted like vanilla.”
Other young experimenters thought some of the experiments were the best part of the open house.
“The mirrors (were my favorite), you can see more of you than one,” 7-year-old Emily Augustine said.
Others liked the more exciting experiments.
“Electric ball, where you shock other people (was my favorite),” 10-year-old Mike Lewis said. “‘Cause I got to shock my friends.”
Special to the open house this year, leading physicists from across the United States participated in the event as part of the American Physical Society’s inaugural conference for Physics on the Road. The group stopped in Colorado to meet with Jones to develop national outreach programs to school children.
“I think it’s good for them to see you can use physics in everyday life to see how they work- get them interested in exploring physics,” volunteer sophomore microbiology major John Washburn said.
For those who did not get enough physics on Saturday, the Little shop of Physics hosts a TV program called “Everyday Science” which was created with Poudre School District. The website is http://littleshop.physics.colostate.edu and the phone number to contact Jones at is 491-5131.
Augustine will be tuning in for these programs for sure, because after two hours of the open house she still had not seen all she wanted.
“There’s too much,” she said.