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Two events, three days, thousands of students

April 21, 2014
Kortny Rolston

It's a busy week for Colorado State University's Little Shop of Physics.

First, the team set a Guinness World Record for the largest physics lesson at the fifth annual Weather and Science Day at Coors Field on Wednesday.

Two days later, Little Shop staff travel to Washington D.C. where they will perform hands-on physics lessons with adults and children April 26-27 at the USA Science & Engineering Festival, the largest event of its kind in the country.

 “This is the first time we’ve been invited to attend the Washington event,” said Brian Jones, a CSU physics instructor and Little Shop director. “The National Science Foundation provides us with funding and asked us to participate.”

Weather and Science Day

Little Shop staff, along with 150 CSU student volunteers and meteorologists from KUSA-TV 9NEWS, will lead 15,000 Denver-area students through an hour-long interactive science lesson during Weather and Science Day.

Students will learn about air, energy and waves, and how these scientific principles explain the curve of a baseball and the patterns of our weather. They also will be quizzed on what they learn throughout the lesson.

Each student will receive a gift bag filled holographic glasses, 3D viewers, color-changing bracelets and other items they will use to participate in experiments. CSU volunteers will be stationed throughout the stands to assist with the hands-on lessons.

The Little Shop team, in their trademark tie-dyed T-shirts, will run several large-scale demonstrations on the field that include launching balloons and stuffed animals, popping giant balloons, and leading everyone through an exercise to create a seismic wave.

Scientists with seismometers will be stationed in the outfield to measure the size of the wave.

“We want to show students how science explains the world around them and there’s no better way to do this than demonstrating the science behind the weather and baseball,” Jones said.

Setting a record

To qualify as a world record, the entire lesson will be recorded by the Rockies staff. An auditing firm will review ticket information, turnstile movement and other information to verify the number of students participating.

“There are strict guidelines on qualifying for a Guinness World Record, but we are confident we will be able to set a new record,” Jones said.

Reaching out to students

This is the second year the Little Shop of Physics, based in the CSU College of Natural Sciences, has participated in Weather and Science Day. It is one of dozens of outreach activities Jones and his staff organize or are involved in each year.

They also travel to schools in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and other states to teach hands-on lessons and film several videos for students and teachers that demonstrate different scientific concepts using inexpensive, everyday objects.