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The Flying Circus of Physics 2011


Photo Gallery 2011

 

_DSC6952.jpg Is science really interesting enough to justify devoting a portion of one's weekend to it? Do you think science is all about wearing white lab coats and toiling for long hours over smoky test tubes? If you have your doubts, then just ask the hundreds of area high school and middle school students (and even younger people) who attended the Flying Circus of Physics and had a great time. 

Once again, Florida State's Department of Physics hosted the biennial Open House -- The Flying Circus of Physics. The Circus took place on Saturday, October 1, 2011, at the Physics Department on the FSU campus. Members of the Physics Department presented the more playful side of scientific inquiry. Volker Crede (on the right), an associate professor of physics, organized this year's event. Sam Tabor (center), professor of physics and former coordinator, provided valuable advise and feedback in the weeks before. Held every other year since 1991, the event was without doubt the most successful ever. Estimates of the total number people who attended range in the thousands. The Open House included hands-on science demonstrations, live physics and chemistry presentations, planetarium shows, and even a paper airplane contest. Of course, there was also the always-popular "Chemical Medicine Show," in which, as part of the grand finale, a can of coal dust ignited. All events, presentations, and shows were free and open to the public. "We tried to show young people that physics is important on the hand, but is also fun and can be of great benefit to them in their future endeavors".

 The Science Fair

Activities included guided tours of all the physics department facilities like the Superconducting Linear Accelerator Facility and the center for Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, CMMP. A physics ride called the "Space Warp" (upper left picture) demonstrated the Coriolis effect in a fun and entertaining way. The Lego attractions are a magnet at every Flying Circus of Physics. A paper airplane folding and flying contest was conducted by one of the most exotic participants (V. Dobrosavljevic, upper right picture). Last not least, Albert Einstein (Mark Riley) should not be missing at a Physics Circus.

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 The Demonstration Rooms

Hands-on demonstrations were available for kids of all ages to experience strange and exciting physical phenomena. Florida State physics professors and graduate students were on hand to explain the basic scientific principles behind it. The demonstration rooms were dedicated to the topics "Mechanics", "Modern Physics", "Electricity & Magnetism", "Sound & Waves", "Exploration", and "Lasers & Light".

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 The Live Shows

The Flying Circus of Physics also included science presentations that have proven very popular with kids. One of these, "The Physics of Sports", is an entertaining and fast-paced multimedia presentation in which bicycles are ridden, basketballs are thrown, and a toy gator is shot with a cannon -- all to demonstrate the science behind popular sporting events. In another presentation, "The Chemical Medicine Show", many kids were looking forward to see R. Clark produce elephant toothpaste. "From Near Space to Deep", revealed the latest spectacular deep-space discoveries of the Hubble and other state-of-the-art telescopes. A further show, "A Hurricane in your Town", explained the physics behind storm systems that can be devastating, in particular in Florida.

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 The Planetarium Shows

One of three different planetarium shows, "Two Small Pieces of Glass -- The Amazing Telescope," accompanied two teenage students who learned how the telescope had helped us understand our place in space and how telescopes continue to expand our understanding of the Universe. Their conversation with a local female astronomer enlightened them on the history of the telescope and the discoveries these wonderful tools had made. The students saw how telescopes worked and how the largest observatories in the world used these instruments to explore the mysteries of the Universe.