Saturday, November 22, 2014
What a lot of fun! Physics Discovery Days drew families from across the Washington, DC metro area to the University of Maryland Physics Lecture Halls. This hands-on workshop and interactive experience gave students opportunities to experience the fun of electricity and magnetism through a variety of experiments, projects, and demonstrations.
The audience was introduced to concepts in electricity and magnetism through a demonstration segment with the Van de Graaff generator showing the hair-raising effects of electric charge, a volunteer using the bicycle generator to light up a light bulb, and electromagnets that provided insight to magnetic fields. After the brief presentation, students and parents engaged in a hands-on workshop.
Participants received a Passport to Electricity and Magnetism to record their experiences from the worlds of Electricity, Magnetism, and Electromagnetism. Each stop provided the participants with a hands-on activity supplemented by interactive demonstrations, allowing participants to both see and do scientific investigations. "I liked how the program was both visual and interactive for people to learn about magnetic fields in many different ways," said one fifth-grade student.
Students built lemon batteries, which with some cooperation from other participants were able to illuminate an LED. The blade spinners, as they were called, were amazingly simple yet effective motors. Yet no one activity could be crowned the favorite. "I liked the gauss launcher the best," declared one student. The gauss launcher was an activity where little more than a magnet could launch a steel ball a couple feet. Several others students mentioned iron filings tracing out the shape of a magnetic field as their favorite.
"It was great. Comprehensive experiments and not crowded so the kids could really play with the equipment" one parent noted. "I liked it a lot! Please do something else like it," begged a fourth-grade student. The next Physics Discovery Days program will be in March.