Colorado State University Little Shop of Physics Annual Open House Feb. 25; Program a Google Grant Recipient for 2012

Note to Reporters: To see a short video about the Little Shop of Physics open house, go to YouTube at

Make electricity flow through your body, see blood flow under your skin, see how you look in infrared and ultraviolet. This is just a sample of the 300 hands-on experiments and seven interactive presentations available at Colorado State University’s 21st annual Little Shop of Physics Open House on Saturday, Feb. 25, in Fort Collins.

The open house, which is free and open to audiences of all ages, will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Lory Student Center on the Fort Collins campus. The Lory Student Center is near the intersection of Laurel Street and Meridian Avenue.

This year’s event will include several exhibits from the Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation in North Dakota. In January, Little Shop of Physics received a $15,000 grant from Google RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) to help the Oglala Lakota College develop its own traveling hands-on science program. With funding from the Google grant, the Colorado State team eventually plans to extend the same opportunities to other tribal colleges and education centers.

Little Shop of Physics was one of only 26 organizations worldwide – 13 of those in the United States – to be awarded a Google grant for enrichment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, known as STEM.

Little Shop of Physics connects college student volunteers with more than 20,000 K-12 students in Colorado each year. The outreach program presents about 100 hands-on science stations at events that illustrate principles from motion to magnetism.

“We want kids to see that the world is a larger and more amazing place than they may have suspected and that they can be part of the process of learning about it,” said Brian Jones, Colorado State physics instructor and director of Little Shop of Physics, which he created. “That’s our core message.”

This year’s open house is “How Big is Your World?” Nearly 7,000 visitors attended last year’s event, and more than 100 volunteers from the CSU and Fort Collins communities will be on hand to help.

“The team will be doing a bunch of new projects that use the ideas of size and scale,” Jones said. “We’ll do a themed presentation with a bunch of demonstrations that show, for instance, why elephants have stouter legs than mice, and how it’s not just ‘the bigger they are, the harder they fall’ but also ‘the bigger they are, the slower they fall.’”

The open house will feature dozens of brand-new, hands-on experiment stations. To name a few, there’s “The Distortionator” – a pair of helmets that make your head appear much larger or much smaller than normal; “Static Snowstorm,” which is similar to a snow globe powered by static electricity; and “Colorful Chaos,” a project that uses a television monitor and camera to make swirling, chaotic patterns.

To date, Little Shop of Physics has reached more than 300,000 students through its in-class experiments and thousands more online.