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San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering Expo

Physics Girl

Whoooooaaaa!
— Small child at physics booth

The fun part of science outreach is getting to interact with the general public, sparking Ooh's and Aah's from an otherwise un-physicsy bunch. Especially when the average age of attendees is below 10. Beach Physics and I joined forces with the UCSD Physics Department and brought together physics undergraduates and graduate students to help run our Physics booth. 

Jamie, Dan and I close to showtime

Jamie, Dan and I close to showtime

We shared demos such as the Van De Graaf generator, seen below with a pom-pom wig. (Check out this video for more about the physics of Van De Graaf generators. It's awesome.) Children are much less afraid of getting shocked by 100,000 volts than I am. The brave souls put their hands all over the metal ball to check if their hair would stand up, if the "hair" of the pom-pom would follow their hands, and investigated what would happen if you put a styrofoam cup on the generator. Can you guess? 

Jacob the brave, showing off the Van De Graaf generator

Jacob the brave, showing off the Van De Graaf generator

We also demoed Chladni plates showing the resonant frequencies and patterns of different shapes. Check out this blog post for more about that.

A round-of-applause for Neil on the Chladni plates!

A round-of-applause for Neil on the Chladni plates!

And of course we had the floating ball, a huge hit with 7-year-olds and their parents (who marveled from afar).  To find out how this demo works, check out this video. 

Magic Robert and his crowd of believers

Magic Robert and his crowd of believers

The entire expo was a HUGE, fun event and we were happy to have been a part of it this year!

The UCSD Physics booth! Physics Rocks.

The UCSD Physics booth! Physics Rocks.