Feb 262009
Authors: Bryan Schiele

The popular youth science outreach program Little Shop of Physics is returning to CSU for the program’s 18th annual open house on Saturday, Feb. 28.

The open house, which is free and open to the public all day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Ballrooms, will feature almost 300 homemade experiments designed by CSU students.

CSU Physics Professor and Lab Coordinator Brian Jones created Little Shop in 1991 as a resource tool for teachers and to show kids that science can be fun. Since its creation, the program has visited over 250,000 students in K-12 classrooms all around Colorado and even foreign countries.

“Most of our work is trying to teach kids about science and give them a sense that science is successful and exciting,” Jones said.

The annual open house is the program’s biggest event of the year. The 100 or so volunteers pull out every experiment they have for the all day event and expect to host over 5,000 people.

According to CSU spokesperson Jim Beers, what is most impressive about the open house is that it does not just open up its doors to 20 or 30 people, but opens up all of the LSC’s ballrooms to anyone who is interested in a hands-on science experience.

This year’s theme that CSU students based their experiment designs around is ‘The Rainbow and Beyond’, which focuses on the visible and invisible light spectrums.

One particular experiment called “See the World in a Different Light” features a camera that makes participants’ skin appear translucent in the infrared light.

The program’s goal, Jones said, is to rid the negative stereotypes that kids have on science and he said the most rewarding thing about Little Shop is both working with CSU students and showing the youth something they have never seen before.

Little Shop’s volunteers have been hard at work every Tuesday and Thursday since the spring semester in preparation for the open house, graduate student volunteer Nisse Lee said.

Lee began volunteering with Little Shop six years ago as a freshman at CSU and says that the excited looks on kids’ faces keep her coming back.

“It’s fun to be able to tell people this is what I do for a living,” Lee said.

Staff writer Bryan Schiele can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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