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SPS at Exploration Day

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As part of Penn State SPS, one of the largest events we participate in each year is the Eberly College of Science’s Exploration Day. This is a day for local families to come and learn about a variety of science topics.

The annual event is sponsored by the NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium and other organizations. This past April, Exploration Day welcomed aproximately 3,000 parents, children and community members. Our chapter joined with over thirty from university science departments, science clubs, and local schools to showcase and explain a variety of science to the visitors. This is the fourth year that the Penn State chapter of SPS has participated in Exploration Day and it was once again a success. As the only Physics-specific exhibitor, we certainly hope to continue the tradition for years to come. Fourteen Penn State SPS members joined together to run our exhibit of seven physics ‘mysteries’. These mysteries were 1) can you predict the motion of a double pendulum as easily as a single pendulum? 2) How and why does sand dance? 3) Why do balloons shrink and flowers break when they get cold? 4) How do figure skaters spin? 5) How can beach balls levitate? 6) Can you call something back with your mind? 7) How do you make musical notes? The kids and their parents explored these questions with the help of our SPS members through a investigatory method. As in previous years, our participation was supported almost entirely by the Marsh White Award. The demonstrations were envisioned and created by SPS members with the gracious assistance of our Physics department. Some were created from scratch, such as the “Dancing Sand” and Double Pendulum demos while others were taken from previous ideas.