Zone 7 Meeting

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SPS Zone Meeting

January 26, 2018 to January 27, 2018

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Meeting host:

Society of Physics Students


Robert Tarchinski

SPS Chapter:

Our collogues from the Pittsburgh area traveled for more than 12 hours to arrive at our zone meeting. The entire SPS board is profoundly grateful for all of the enthusiastic participants who attended this meeting.

Meeting attendees

Friday evening: Participants arrived at West Hall on the University of Michigan central campus for registration beginning at 6:00 PM. During the 6:00-7:00 PM hour, participants mingled and got to know one another. Our SPS outreach chair set up a variety of physics demonstrations adjacent to the registration table as amusement pieces and conversation starters. Our famous ‘wavy tube of fire’ made a surprise appearance to the delight of all (see photos below). Introductory remarks were given at 7:00 PM from our chapter president and advisor. Dinner catered from Ann Arbor’s favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, Jerusalem Garden, began at 7:15 PM. Following dinner participants chose between three different Friday evening activities: the Demonstration Make & Take, the Planetarium Show and board games.

Demonstration Make & Take: participants worked in teams of four to construct simple Van-de-Graaff generators. These generators are relatively inexpensive and simple to construct making them practical for use in K-12 SPS outreach programs. The Make & Take event was a resounding success as nearly 50 participants engaged in building the generators. This number far exceeded the author’s expectations. Despite some initial controlled chaos the Make & Take event developed into a high energy and exciting event.

Planetarium Show: Thanks to our colleagues at the Student Astronomical Society (SAS), who welcomed our meeting attendees joining their open house event, zone meeting participants attended planetarium shows at the Michigan Angell Hall Planetarium. SAS student members gave four planetarium shows on Friday evening which were enjoyed by meeting participants.

Following the Friday evening activities participants met their host Michigan students and departed for the host homes.

Saturday Morning began bright and early with a continental breakfast catered by Panera Bread and funded by a BLI small grant. Breakfast led into a poster session which featured 7 contributed posters covering topics ranging from the Atmosphere of Mars to Gendered Performance Differences in undergraduate STEM courses. Professor Jennifer Ogilvie generously allowed us into her lab for meeting participants to tour during this time. Graduate Student Riley Sechrist gave meeting attendees a tour of the lab.

Our meeting keynote speeches were delivered by Michigan faculty members Christine Aidala and Joshua Spitz. Professor Aidala discussed her career path in Physics as well as her research in experimental nuclear physics. Prof. Spitz discussed the ghostly Neutrino and described some recent experiments seeking to elucidate the properties of this fundamental particle. Both professors were introduced by Professor Brad Orr, chair of the Michigan Physics Department.

After a short break and group photo opportunity, we concluded our meeting with 10-minute student talks (abstracts included below).

We gave awards (gift bags donated by our sponsors and our club) for outstanding posters. The winners are as follows.

1. Sophie Hourihane
2. Kevin Bhimani
3. Molly Taylor

This meeting was a resounding success and attendees are already excited for the spring Zone 7 meeting at Miami University of Ohio in April, 2018.

Areas of Alignment: Career Resources:

Attendees listen to opening remark

Demo Make & Take underway

Saturday morning poster session in West Hall

SPS member Eric Peterson discussing his research in condensed matter physics

SPS member Laura Salo presents her research in experimental particle physics

The wavy tube of fire and other demonstrations

The 2017-2018 SPS board: Front Row(L-R): Nita Kedharnath, Noah McNeal, Polina Abratenko, Alex Maynard, Kristin Dona, John Schafer. Top row(L-R): Bobby Tarchinski, Billy Warner, Ezra Lesser.