Feb 272005
Authors: Joanna Larez

Homemade ice cream, magnets in a skillet, the excitement in the air and just plain learning were some favorites at the Little Shop of Physics.

The 14th annual open house of more than 160 different hands-on science experiments attracted about 5,000 people of all ages to the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom Saturday. CSU's physics department is home of the Little Shop of Physics, and most of the projects are set up by undergraduate students.

The little shop program takes some of the experiments to schools in surrounding areas every week.

"Every year we kind of celebrate by putting on this open house at CSU," said Brian Jones, director of the little shop. "We're just trying to give them (children) physical experience in the real world."

An entire year's worth of work is put on display for many eager children.

"This is a really cool day because we get to bring everything out," said Erin Stransky, senior biology major working on a teaching licensure. "The basic message I think everyone can get is science can be really fun, and it's all around us."

Stransky aspires to be a science teacher, and she travels with the little shop every week.

"This is the way I like to teach, hands-on," Stansky said. "I like to think of new ways to present things."

Sean Wilke, 7, of Fort Collins, made his rounds, and he stopped to dance to music from oddly shaped CDs. The CDs were drilled and had designs cut into them to display the memory potential of CD players. The music and Wilke did not skip a beat.

Wilke said his favorite display was the skillet with magnetic BBs. Children gathered to shape the magnets in different towering shapes.

"There are so many (BBs) and they go in all different shapes," Wilke said. "It's such a large magnetic field; if they get too close they get sucked right into it."

Wilke is one of many children who grasped the scientific concepts behind the program's displays.

"I get amazed at every school I go to," Stransky said. "They get a lot of the stuff."

The children's excitement gives the program value to Stransky.

"They jump up or scream with a reaction," she said. "That's my favorite thing."

Jones said he really enjoys working with all the undergraduate students who help make the program a success.

"It's time to have some fun," Jones said. "And we get to do something to make a difference."

Sylvia Wallin, senior microbiology major, likes volunteering with the program because of the "outreach side."

"It's just fun," she said.

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