Contrary to popular belief, physics can be fun, especially with the Society of Physics Students (SPS). SPS is a national organization that works to develop student interest in physics through numerous outreach and inreach events. Revitalized in 2007, the Mines chapter of SPS is extremely active, and they have received national recognition on a number of occasions.
Since its revival, SPS has been “really involved in the community. Every semester we try to have at least two outreach events where we’re working with high school to elementary age kids introducing them to physics and letting them see the fun side of it,” Amy Garland, Secretary of SPS, explained. Shirley Moore, President of SPS, talked a little more about the outreach events they do. Partners in Physics was a new event where “we went and taught the Mitchell Elementary School kids about waves. We did a little science show, and we built space phones, wave machines, and little straw kazoos.”
In addition to outreach events with local schools, SPS tries to do a lot of events on campus. “Our most notable event on campus is probably Celebration of Mines. Everybody knows that we’re the liquid nitrogen ice cream people,” said Marty Oztenberger, Demonstrations Librarian. Despite the two ice cream trucks giving away free ice cream during the Celebration of Mines, SPS gave out over six gallons of their homemade ice cream.
Another big on-campus event is the Haunted Physics Lab, which takes place every year on Halloween in the Student Center Ballrooms. “We take as many fun, cool, interactive physics demos as we can come up with that are sort of Halloween-related… and we let kids come play with the demos,” said Otzenberger. “If anybody has any ideas that they think would be awesome for it….we’re always open to suggestions.” In past years, over 300 people have shown up to see the demos. This year, SPS is hoping for an even bigger turnout by collaborating with some of the Greek houses.
As if SPS did not have enough to do, “The last thing we do is try to get physics majors out of Meyer Hall. It’s a lot harder than you might think,” Otzenberger laughed. “This year, we’re doing movie nights once a month where anybody can come in and hang out,” Garland added. Knowledge bowls, ice skating nights, and bowling nights are also on the SPS social agenda.
SPS membership is open to everyone, regardless of major. Last year, Levi Miller started showing up to SPS meetings with only a slight interest in physics. Now he is the Vice President of Outreach for SPS and a declared physics major. “It is just a great way to meet a bunch of physics students and really get a feel for what the department is like,” Miller said. “The first part of meetings we have official business and then it’s just mingling and food.” SPS meetings are held every Tuesday at noon in Meyer 357, so don’t hesitate to stop by and see how much fun physics can be. For more information, visit the SPS website at www.csmsps.org