Feb 242008
Authors: Alexandra Sieh

An unusual demographic filled the Lory Student Center Saturday as children of all ages rushed to see the Little Shop of Physics Open House.

Created by CSU physics professor Brian Jones, this event displays physics in a new light, not just at the university every year, but also across the country and overseas to show children a different side of science.

“Rather than talking to these kids, we give them a chance to work with things and explore, learning through experience,” Jones said.

Excitement was in the air as kids rushed from one experiment to the next, exploring the exhibits.

As the box filled with smoke, winds in the Tornado Box created a cyclone, showing children how a tornado forms.

The Frozen Shadows experiment also created excitement. After a bright light flashed, the shadow from a child’s hand would appear and stay on the bottom of the box for minutes after.

Parents stood back and watched their children explore the room learn about physics in a way kids could understand.

Samuel Yoxsimer, 7, from Highland Elementary, was excited about the exhibits.

After seeing fliers for the open house at his school, he convinced his parents to bring him from Greeley to see the displays.

“I love science,” Yoxsimer said. “I love to learn about all types of stuff.”

But the children weren’t the only ones enjoying themselves that day.

Volunteers of all ages, from middle school students to teachers and parents, wandered through the exhibits, helping the children run the displays.

Caity Prasuhn and Amanda Reyes, students at Weber Junior High School, come with their dads each year to volunteer and help with the event.

“We either pick a station to work on or we walk through the exhibits to answer questions,” Reyes said. “Its fun to mess around and look at everything.”

“It’s the coolest thing to talk to the kids and watch their faces when they figure everything out,” Prasuhn said.

Kendra Bolton, a junior health and exercise major, walked from one experiment to another, teaching the children how to run them, while enjoying a few herself.

“My roommate told me about his event last year, so when they were looking for volunteers, I signed up,” Bolton said. “I love helping the children and watching them learn.”

As she ran the hot air balloon exhibit, Amy Heath, a sophomore psychology major, explained how the balloon stayed in the air, and the kids ran around her and kept the balloon in the air.

“I love helping out here,” Heath said. “Its so much fun, like being a kid again.”

Jones said student involvement is key to educating the children who come from all over the Front Range.

“This is something that has to be done here at CSU,” Jones said. “It all started with undergraduates, and it’s their involvement and enthusiasm that makes it what it is.”

For Jones, this is an opportunity to reach out to the community, letting local teachers, students and community members alike come together to teach physics to the next generation.

“It has been everything I could hope for,” Jones said. “It’s about giving these kids a hands-on experience with the hope that what they see today will get them excited about science.”

Staff writer Alexandra Sieh can be reached at news@collegian.edu.

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