IU Open House

Open House. photo courtesy Julianne Martin, STM Living Learning Center

Every fall, the Astronomy, Chemistry, and Physics departments hold an annual Open House event.  This is when a department opens its doors to the general public and showcases the field.  This includes child-friendly activity rooms, shows, and lectures for the older audience.  For the past few years, the departments held their respective open house’s at the same time and this year, the Math department joined with its own activity room.

The Holographic Toy; Where is the real toy? photo courtesy of Prof. Liese vanZee, Astronomy

On the last Saturday of October, about 900 visitors arrived on campus from the very young to ageing (high school students get extra credit for showing up).  I took the morning shift in the Light and Color room to tell visitors about light diffraction with various elements.  The kids love wearing the diffraction glasses since the glasses let the kids see rainbows everywhere, particularly near lights, which was the point.

Astronomy student showing a visitor the finer points of making a comet. photo courtesy of Prof. Liese vanZee, Astronomy

After the morning shift, I took a one hour shift at the Women in Physics/Astronomy table.  Several new features were added this year, including a pumpkin drop and new lectures.  The WIP table had been dropped over the past couple years, but was resurrected this year.  The table was manned partially by students from the new women’s STM Living Learning Center.

Women in Physics/Astronomy Table. photo courtesy of Julianne Martin, STM Living Learning Center.

There are several shows put on by the departments.  The most popular of these are the two themed shows put on by the undergraduate students in physics and chemistry, respectively.  The shows always involve liquid nitrogen(physics), blowing something up(chemistry), and leaving a bizarre mess(both).

I could go on, but that would make this post impossibly long.  Let me just finish by saying that I had a great time at the open house and that the open house is one of those things best seen in person.  I’ll leave you with a video from the open house done two years ago.

Physics/Astronomy Open House 2010