See colors that aren’t really there, hear music through your forehead and use light to see inside your body as part of Colorado State University’s Little Shop of Physics 2005-2006 tour, which will be at the National Western Stock Show on Sunday, Jan. 8.
Visitors to the Little Shop of Physics – Colorado State’s physics outreach program – can get their hands on some cool science experiments to try all these things and more. All experiments were built using the Little Shop approach of using everyday objects to illustrate scientific principles in an engaging way. Primary sources of equipment are garage sales and hardware and discount stores.
At the National Western, Little Shop will be at the Colorado State booth. The booth is in the southeast corner of the third floor of the Expo Hall at the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt St., Denver.
This year’s Little Shop theme is "It’s All in Your Head."
"We want people to learn that science is something anyone can do," said Brian Jones, director of Little Shop. "Science is just a way of looking at and learning about the world. We want people to get their hands on things, to make things happen – and to find out that doing science can be a lot of fun."
The idea that science is hard or confusing? "It’s all in your head," Jones said. "We want to help people to discover that science is not that difficult."
The Little Shop of Physics experiments, built and presented by Colorado State undergraduate students, are appropriate for people of all ages – but the focus of the program is the scientists of tomorrow.
"Kids are natural scientists," Jones said. "When we watch kids at work in the Little Shop, they pick something up, turn it around, spin it, pound on it and see what happens. That’s how they learn about the world. It’s this childlike spirit of investigation that we want to encourage."
Little Shop of Physics, based in the Department of Physics at Colorado State, has a thriving traveling program in the region. Each year, Jones and a group of undergraduate physics students take the Little Shop to more than 50 schools and 15,000 children throughout Colorado and neighboring states. In addition to the traveling program, the Little Shop presents training workshops to teachers throughout the country and in other nations.
Little Shop also produces a television program, "Everyday Science," with Poudre School District Channel 10 in the Fort Collins area.
For information about the Little Shop of Physics, including a sampling of online experiments, visit the Web at http://littleshop.physics.colostate.edu or call Jones at (970) 491-5131.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the partnership between Colorado State University and the National Western Stock Show. The university has had an intimate role with the stock show since showing the first grand champion steer in 1906.