Archive for Category ‘Department Activities‘

Highlighting SPU Noyce Scholar Zach Brenneman

Zach Brenneman, an SPU physics student and Noyce Scholar, was recently highlighted by “SPU Stories.” Check it out and learn what makes him excited about teaching physics.

Pumpkin Physics

In the spirit of the Halloween season, the SPU chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) offered some festivity to Otto Miller Hall. Check it out!

The Energy of a Bouncy Castle

In early October 2010, the Physics Department hosted a Bouncy Castle Party at the house of Professors Eleanor and Hunter Close. Much fun was had by all! To stay tuned for the next event, follow the SPU Physics Facebook page.

Bouncy Castle

Visiting Researcher Rachel Scherr watches Professor Hunter Close experience the bouncy castle slide.

Professors John Lindberg and Lane Seeley enjoy the party inside with student Taryn Kitson.

Highlighting: Eleanor Close

Eleanor CloseAssistant Professor of Physics and Science Education Eleanor Close was recently highlighted in the June 2010 issue of SPU’s etc magazine. Here are some highlights!

Some people think that physics is scary. What do you think is the scariest science? Astrology. No, seriously — who says science is scary? Skydiving is scary. Science is fun!

Which takes more guts: Teaching or giving birth to twins?
Teaching. Giving birth to twins was no problem! Teaching is a challenge every day. You have to try to understand what’s going on in your 20-30 students’ minds — find out what they think, and figure out what kind of learning experience they need. That’s why it takes guts, and also why it’s so much fun.

Are there any cultural myths about physics that you would like to obliterate?
Yes! Some people believe that physics is all abstract number-crunching and only for super-smart or super-nerdy people. Not true! Physics is about questions that most kids ask, such as, `What is time?’ Everyone can learn physics just like everyone can learn to sing. And just like singing hymns can bring you closer to God (even if you don’t sing on key), exploring questions about creation can bring you closer to God (even if you’re not a “science person.”)

Read the rest of the Q&A.

The Robots, the Computers, and Everything

Robots and Elementary Kids

On February 23, 2010, the SPU Physics Department hosted 56 enthusiastic fifth-grade students and their chaperones from Maple Elementary School on SPU’s campus for a college immersion day.

The day’s programs were funded by a generous grant from the Huston Foundation. The Physics Department, the SPU Art Center, and the SPU Library collaborated to make the day extra-special for the elementary students.

Thirty-two SPU students — a group of elementary pre-service teachers and physics learning assistants — led activities throughout the day, including a game about the water cycle and some physics laboratory explorations. In the afternoon, the group visited the SPU Art Center Gallery to see an exhibit called “Visions From the Robopocalypse.”

The elementary students’ were inquisitive and excited, which encouraged the students’ SPU hosts. Several of the students said they were surprised at how much fun science lessons could be. And all the students were impressed with the Gwinn Commons dining hall — a place of unlimited French fries!

Excerpts from the Maple Elementary students’ thank-you letters to the Physics Department

“My favorite part was everything. The robots, the computers and everything. I hope this will be my University when I grow up.”

“I also like the part where we did the water cycle game outside. I didn’t know that a water droplet could stay in the ocean for so long. The robot art gallery was fun too, about the dancing robot.”

“I had a lot of fun and learned more about the water cycle. I also enjoyed the physics lessons. The food at the cafeteria was great. I would like to go to college sooner.”

“I loved coming to SPU. My grandma has not been to a field trip in almost 17 years. She also loved it. The water cycle game was my second favorite. I got 15 ocean beads and 15 cloud beads. It was the best field trip I’ve ever had.”

“Thank you for the all expense paid field trip. The lessons were very fun! My favorite one was the lights and optics. We explored with lasers and rainbows. I felt like James Bond when we explored with the lasers!”