Physics graduate student Tyler Parsotan explains the science of a Solar Eclipse in this How-To video. Tyler is President of the Oregon State Astronomy Club and is working with schools and libraries on information about the Eclipse on August 21, 2017. Tyler’s explanation is about 2:00 in the video.
Category Archives: Outreach
Helping Young Girls Discover Their Inner Physicist
On Saturday, March 4th, the Physics Department was part of the annual “Discovering the Scientist Within” event at OSU. Twenty-three middle school girls from all over Oregon visited the department and learned about physics by playing with some of our coolest physics toys.
The girls drew “physicists doing physics” on the wall-mounted touch screens in our hi-tech studio classroom. The girls played with our superconducting train, centrifuge chair, precessing bicycle wheel, standing wave strobe setup and tabletop hovercrafts. They used OSU diffraction glasses to look at atomic emission spectra. They zoomed down the halls of Weniger on our leaf-blower hovercraft. We turned out the lights and did some “light painting”. We finished the day with homemade liquid nitrogen ice cream.
For more information about the Discovering the Scientists Within event, see the article in the Gazette Times.
Alumnus Shane Larson wins the Fermilab Physics Slam
Shane Larson, BS 91, has won the Vth Fermilab Physics Slam – a public contest in which scientists are given 10 minutes on stage to explain what the heck they do to over 1000 people in a sold out auditorium.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-abn-physics-slam-st-1202-20161201-story.html has a Chicago Tribune article about the contest.
Shane works at the Adler Planetarium and teaches at Northwestern University. He gave a talk here in 2016 on the LIGO gravitational wave discovery.
Astronomy Open House strikes again!
At the most recent Astronomy Open House, on February 17th, many tried to reach for the… planets?
The newly formed OSU Astronomy Club and the Department of Physics hosted the most recent Open House with invited activities by the Corvallis Public Library and the Corvallis Arts Center. The event also featured Tom Carrico of the local amateur astronomer club: Heart of the Valley Astronomers who talked about how to view an eclipse safely.
At the event, parents, college students, and children alike, learned about how telescopes work, how astronomers identify what stars are made of, what causes the seasons, and the different types of shadows formed by an eclipse! Once each person completed their activity sheet, they were able to get a free commemorative eclipse poster about the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse in August.
Everyone seemed to love the event, and the OSU Astronomy Club is working to make the event even better than it already is, especially with anticipation growing for clear weather for the next Open House! So be sure to keep an eye on facebook.com/osuastronights to hear about the next exciting Astronomy open House! We hope to see you there!
Family Science Night at Franklin
Elementary school students at Franklin School, Corvallis, enjoyed the wonders of riding a frictionless craft across the school gym on Thursday night. They also learned how to make their own hovercraft using an old cd, and checked out other “wow” physics demos. Many thanks to the student volunteers from the Department of Physics who gave over 150 kids a super fun experience with physics. More school events are coming up soon.
Photos and Video from Prof. Janet Tate’s Gilfillan Lecture
The Spectrometer has been operating from the Oort cloud for the past few months, hence some delays in the signal reaching you.
A big event Spring quarter was Janet Tate’s masterful Gilfillan Lecture, “It’s a Materials World” on May 9th.
If you ever wanted to know what goes on in her lab, this is the lecture to watch.
You can find photos at:
and a video, featuring some great superconducting material at:
Astronomy Open House draws hundreds to Weniger
Physics visits Clover Ridge Elementary
Scientists from the Physics Department visited the first grade classes (about 100 students) at Clover Ridge Elementary School. Atul Chhotray and Davide Lazzati used solar telescopes to give students an introduction to astronomy. Nicole Quist, Jacob Bigelow and Ethan Minot used an assortment of interactive demos to explain the amazing things we can do with air. From pushing a sail boat with giant air molecules, to floating on a hover craft. Nicole: “Raise your hands if you want to say something.” Student: “That was awesome!”
Transit of Mercury
On May 9th, Mercury transited the Sun and the crack physics solar telescope team (Randy Milstein and Jim Ketter) took a chance on a break in the clouds and set up 3 telescopes in the quad. The sky cleared and over 40 people stopped by to see the transit before it ended right before lunch. If anyone has a photo taken at this event, send it along and we will post it.
Science Pub with Gravitational Waves
On April 12, Physics cohosted the Science Pub at the Old World Deli.
Shane Larson of Northwestern University/Adler planetarium ( BS Physics 1991) presented the latest news on gravitational waves from the LIGO experiment to over 170 enthusiastic attendees after a pub quiz that no-one, including Shane and Physics Chair Heidi Schellman got 100%. VP for Research Cindy Sagers won a prize for being one of 3 people to get 8/10!
Shane’s talk is posted at This location.