Students from the Fort Hays State University Department of Physics have been honored both locally and nationally for their efforts as ambassadors of science to children in various Kansas communities.
The honors rolled in for the Physics Road Show, in which physics students travel to various towns to demonstrate scientific principles in ways that thrill and amaze their young audiences.
FHSU's Student Government Association recognized the Physics Road Show last year as the best new student program on campus, and the National Society of Physics Students recently awarded the Blake Lilly Prize to the student group.
The national award goes to Society of Physics Students chapters that "make a genuine effort to positively influence the attitudes of school children and the general public about physics." The FHSU chapter was recognized for the Physics Road Show, which is just one of its activities. For winning the Blake Lilly Prize, the FHSU chapter of SPS will receive a certificate and a set of the three-volume "Feyman Lectures on Physics" to be used as the chapter sees fit. In addition, the names of all the participating students will be published in the national SPS's print and electronic publications.
Dr. Cathy Clewett, assistant professor of physics and faculty advisor to the Physics Road Show, said the FHSU students perform demonstrations that illustrate different areas of physics. For example, they use a bed of nails to illustrate a lesson in force and pressure. One of the FHSU students lies on the bed of nails and has a cinder block broken on his or her chest. Then the youngsters from the audience are also allowed to lie on the bed of nails.
The road show visited several communities last year, as far away as Salina, Sylvan Grove and Johnson City. Clewett said the road show activity helps with both recruitment and retention of students in the Physics Department, which has 32 new students this year. "Some of that is due to the road show," she said.
"This is a department-wide initiative," said Clewett. Dr. Kenneth Trantham, associate professor, Dr. Kayvan Aflatooni, associate professor and last year's sponsor of the SPS chapter, and Dr. Gavin Buffington, associate professor and chair of the department, all helped students design and perfect demonstrations for the road show.
Clewett also gave special thanks to student Joan Dreiling, last year's Torch Award winner, who she said was a big part of the road show and did much of the legwork that led to the recognition from the national SPS.
FHSU students who participated in last year's award-winning Physics Road Show include:
ABILENE: Aubrey (Rankin) Weigel.
ELLIS: Joan Dreiling.
ELLSWORTH: Scott Hand.
HAYS: Roger Bach.
LA CROSSE: Clay Betts.
MACKSVILLE: Paul Maseberg.
McCRACKEN: Lance Irvin.
PHILLIPSBURG: Mitch Beard.
SCOTT CITY: Blake Eisenhour, Luke Scott.
SYLVAN GROVE: Derek Vonada.
FHSU students who participated in last year's Physics Road Show and remain involved this year are Hays students Charles Carlson, sophomore, Andrew Leiker, senior, and Lindsey Weber, senior.