Mar 012009
Authors: Jessica Cline

The upper level expanse of the Lory Student Center was equal in capacity to a mad scientist’s laboratory, dotted with 250 homemade science experiments and exhibitions as part of the 18th annual Little Shop of Physics Saturday.

The open house was free for everyone and brought in about 6,000 people over the course of the day. Run by CSU and community volunteers, the event was designed to get children and families excited about science by offering experiences in hands-on-learning and an opportunity to watch presentations put on by CSU students.

“We have two main things we are really trying to accomplish with this event; to show people that science is interesting and accessible and to give CSU students a chance to show off what they know and give something back to the community,” Brian Jones, coordinator and CSU physics professor, said.

Experiment stations featured a multitude of infrared and ultraviolet light experiments and a manmade tornado from CSU’s Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes, a National Science Foundation and Technology Center focused on improving representation cloud processes in climate models according to its Web site. It was the first year the CMMAP was a part of the event.

This, event coordinators said, gave children a chance to learn not only about physics but the wonders of the atmosphere as well.

The volunteers explained to the children what was happening in the experiments as they tested them out and CSU students the experience brought back science education memories of their own.

“I remember when I was little, stuff like this blew my mind and was so cool to play with,” Paul Chubirka, freshman physics major, said. “I like science stuff so this is a fun way to promote physics to kids.”

Nikki Weickum, junior liberal arts major, said she agreed that having an open house was a good way to get people involved with science.

“This is a great way to introduce science concepts to kids and get them really excited about science and physics.”

Throughout the year the Little Shop of Physics travels around to different schools to help teach children about physics in a fun and hands on way. The open house is their biggest event though and takes all year to plan and evolve into the finished product.

Little Shop of Physics has a special theme every year and this year the theme was “The Rainbow and Beyond,” which centered on experiments with visible, infrared, and ultraviolet light.

Experiments explored light as well as many other things such as air, gas, and chemical reactions.

“The experiments and machines we have let kids participate and learn about physics in a fun way instead of giving them equations, so it gets them interested,” Courtney Amerin, junior biology major said.

Jones said that he loves this event because it allows families come to a college campus and interact with CSU students, adding, students get a day to act as role models and feel like they have something to share with the community.

“CSU is a very special place that students are willing to give up their Saturday and come do this,” Jones said. “But I think it is a great experience for (students) because they do not always get to be a role model and feel really knowledgeable so it is a positive and powerful experience.”

He said he was amazed at Saturday’s turnout and how many people came out to learn about science with their kids.

“It is a pretty magical day and it is the highlight of my year!”

Staff writer Jessica Cline can be reached at

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