SPS Zone 15 Meeting

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SPS Zone Meeting

April 14, 2023 to April 15, 2023

Salt Lake City, UT

Meeting host:

Society of Physics Students


Sunny Joy Rasmussen

SPS Chapter:

University of Utah Society of Physics Students

Chapter Report on Zone 15 Meeting

By Sunny Joy Rasmussen

Early the morning of April 14, 2023 physics students and professors from four different colleges across the wide state of Utah gathered together in the University of Utah physics building parking lot to hit the road to Idaho for the Society of Physics Students Zone 15 Meeting at College of Southern Idaho. I was particularly excited to go, so I could run for Zone 15 Associate Zone Councilor.

Traveling there was pleasant, as it gave us a chance to get to know each other and compare experiences of physics classes at campuses across Utah. We also got to learn that the student from Snow College had the best playlist, as his playlist trumped a University of Utah’s.

When we all finally arrived at the college, we were greeted by a lovely welcome table with nametags and coffee. Past the nametags and coffee were students from all over Zone 15! Our Utah Medley of students got to meet College of Southern Idaho, BYU-Idaho, and BYU-Utah physics students.

Our first day of events included a full demo show. This consisted of our physics professors and SPS advisors presenting and explaining demos. Many of our professors and SPS Advisors were attending as part of the annual American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) meeting, that conjoined with the SPS Zone 15 meeting. Because Zone 15 is so large in area, the Zone 15 meeting is typically bundled with the Regional AAPT meeting. This demo show was especially fun and exciting because the hosting physics professor, dressed up for his regular Kilt Friday tradition, brought out many homemade demos he had constructed. The most loved demo was where the hosting professor showed the power of a vacuum, by shooting a ping pong ball that had been inside a vacuum (made of PVC) at a row of empty soda cans. I had no clue the power a ping pong ball had when it’s shot at such high speeds! It tore through three soda cans before stopping inside the fourth can! Later, the hosting professor showed us his demo room, where he hung up the four destroyed soda cans on his trophy obliterated cans from presenting that demo multiple times.

Later that evening, SPS and AAPT took a tranquil stroll across the Idahoian campus to the planetarium that was connected with the local museum. While the sun set, we wandered through the local museum that had many intriguing exhibits! The most memorable exhibits were the live Python exhibit, the local art exhibit, the Cambrian Fossil exhibit, and the American Indian exhibit. After visiting the museum, SPS and AAPT gathered into the planetarium show room, where an astrophysics presentation was given. This was followed by a video about the process of capturing the first images of a black hole. It was quite educational, though it was more about a made up romance narrative than actual science. As physicists, we were a bit disappointed. The show itself was interesting, but most of the group wanted to learn more about the science behind capturing the images of the black holes.

After the planetarium show, the evening continued with a star party! we gathered atop the science building on campus, to the giant telescope, and rooftop. The weather was quite clear, so planets and various galactic smudges were able to be seen. Many SPS members from Zone 15 were able to bond during this time, waiting in line to look through the telescope. Also during this time, as the evening went on, I remembered that I had physics homework due that night that I had not done yet. Luckily, my Professor and Learning Assistant for the class were both there with me and I was able to get an extension.

The next morning, we gathered on the College of Southern Idaho campus again. Breakfast was served and we had a poster session. All of the posters were outstandingly presented! I presented my poster about searching for blackholes in the hearts of dwarf galaxies. After the poster session, it was time for business meetings for both AAPT and SPS. In the SPS zone 15 meeting, we went over voting for national council, registering each chapter, why SPS is important, and how to get more involved in SPS. I was able to give a short speech on why those in Zone 15 should vote for me. I was so excited when they all said they would vote for me…besides the fact that I was the only one running. Other business such as plans for this upcoming year and networking to make those plans happen also took place.

After this, lunch was provided and we went to our choice of various presentations on a wide range of physics flavored subjects. One in particular about the range of eyesight evolving and being connected to modern technology, such as phones was very interesting!

Our final activity was very hands on stations of various demos. This was to train SPS on how to create engaging demos with simple materials, for when we return to our own campuses and put on demos. The final thirty minutes of the annual Zone 15 SPS and regional AAPT meeting were spent with most individuals crowded around a table in a classroom playing with green playdough, and trying to show off our best playdough cubes. Despite first thoughts, we learned that creating a good looking cube with playdough is quite difficult.

Zone 15 Society of Physics Students annual meeting, combined with American Association of Physics Teachers regional meeting was quite the success! One of my favorite overall parts was getting to know those around the zone as well as the visiting professors. I enjoyed getting to watch the professors bond over their time in SPS, while also being able to bond with my peers in SPS. I knew that one day that would become many of us, reminiscing about the fun we were having right then, while also continuing to make memories and bond over our excitement of a good physics demo!

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