Physics and astronomy professors engage with students at the Michigan Science Center

Prof. Kelly performs a demonstration for visiting kids
Professor Kelly performed various demonstrations for adult and young visitors.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has recently begun a new partnership with the nearby Michigan Science Center (MiSci). On the first Saturday of each month, Wayne State faculty are running hands-on demonstrations to describe their research to the general public. Faculty from the Department of Physics and Astronomy volunteered to spearhead this new effort for the first few months.

A visiting kid performing an experiment with a laser pointer.
During the event, young visitors enjoyed performing fun science experiments.

Kicking things off in October, Professor Chris Kelly was joined by Professor Bill Llope and physics graduate students to talk about surface-active molecules that make soap and bubbles, called surfactants. Visitors to MiSci were able to engage with four different stations. They got to (1) see demonstrations of foam formation, (2) make their own emulsion of oil, water, and surfactant mixtures, (3) look at their emulsions under the microscope, and (4) better understand how microscopes work through the bending and scattering of light. On the experience, Professor Kelly said "Being able to play with and teach the MiSci visitors was inspiring. The students and the volunteers were enthusiastic and made lasting memories. It was an honor to work with MiSci and I can't wait to do it again."

Prof. Ludlam and a young visitor, rolling marbles accorss a gravity wall.
A young MiSci visitor is excited to help Professor Ludlam explore the concepts of gravity.

At the beginning of November, Professor Ed Cackett, along with Professor Renee Ludlam and graduate student Maxx Haehn discussed black holes. They used "gravity wells" to allow MiSci visitors to explore ideas about gravity and how objects with mass bend spacetime. "Kids and adults alike had a great time rolling the marbles, and watching them spiral towards the black hole", said Professor Cackett. "It was really fun answering all the fantastic questions they came up with."

Prof. Cackett rolls marbles across a gravity wall to explain young visitors how objects with mass bend spacetimt.
Professor Cackett used marbles rolling across a gravity well to explain to young visitors how objects with mass bend spacetime.

Up next month on Dec. 3, Professor Nausheen Shah will be at MiSci to talk about particle physics.

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