Colorado State’s Little Shop of Physics Offers Free Open House Feb.

One response families might have after attending Colorado State University’s Little Shop of Physics open house Feb. 26 may be "Way to Glow."

That’s because the program, which introduces young people to science in interesting and enjoyable ways, will offer a Glow-in-the-Dark face-painting booth, "Things That Glow in the Dark" and "Way to Glow," a display that shows minerals and other samples brightly lit by ultraviolet light.

Brian Jones, Department of Physics laboratory coordinator and head of the Little Shop program, said the experiments and presentations are designed for general audiences and a mix of ages. The 1999 open house drew more than 3,500 people.

Some 100 hands-on experiments and presentations will be presented at Lory Student Center on the Colorado State campus from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Exhibits will include:

  • Video Vibes, a device built from an old television set and a keyboard that demonstrates the waves associated with different sounds;
  • A scaled-up, 12-foot-high Wave Machine, which allows participants to make waves on a moving chain;
  • The Million Volt Tesla Coil, which throws (safely) huge sparks.
  • Cloud Nine, a device "made from the guts of a humidifier," Jones said, that generates enough fog to be scooped up and poured; and
  • Slinky Sounds, an audio unit built from an old stereo amplifier and a Slinky toy that adds echo and reverberation to a voice.

Jones began the Little Shop program eight years ago. Assisted by undergraduate students, the Little Shop has presented programs to more than 100,000 students in schools throughout Colorado and in neighboring states.

"Colorado State students and I talk about the importance of the program in service learning, about how it gives people a chance to see that science isn’t scary or intimidating," Jones said. "Science is something anyone can do.

"But what keeps people coming back is the cool stuff–things that glow in the dark or under ultraviolet light, and the high-voltage, low-amperage, really impressive sparks from the Tesla coil. This is the spirit of science that gets kids excited, and I think it’s from kids like these that the next generation of scientists will emerge."

For more information on the Little Shop of Physics open house, call (970) 491-5131.