SPS Zone 16 Meeting

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SPS Zone Meeting

March 24, 2023 to March 26, 2023

Prescott, AZ

Meeting host:

Society of Physics Students


Janessa Slone

SPS Chapter:



Chapters that attended: University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Number of Attendees:  12 (other than ERAU Students)

Recommendations for future planning:

-       Have schools who come have their own event

-       Allow new students to do research talks

-       Have more faculty from schools attend

-       Have an AZC/ZC Talk



This year, the Zone 16 Zone Meeting was hosted by the Embry-Riddle SPS chapter and started in the evening on Friday, March 24th, and ended on Sunday, March 26th. At the meeting, SPS members from the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University came to Prescott, Arizona to see the Embry-Riddle campus, meet other SPS members, and learn different ways to create a fun, engaging, and successful SPS chapter. The Zone Meeting started with research talks from Embry-Riddle members.

Research Talks:

On Friday, the Zone Meeting started with research talks and a catered dinner from Olive Garden. At the research talks, 7 Embry-Riddle SPS members, including all of the officers, gave ~10 minute research talks to showcase the amazing research done at Embry-Riddle. At the end of each research talk, there was time for the audience to ask questions. The audience was very engaged during the talks, and even though there were only Embry-Riddle students in the audience, they were able to see what kinds of research they could start doing on their own campus.

Campus Tours:

Our President (Janessa) and Outreach Coordinator (Justin) led tours of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s (ERAU) campus. The library, Academic Complex One, many of the class rooms, some of the engineering labs, the STEM building, and the physics labs were shown to the visitors. Since the SPS members from other chapters came from distant campuses, and had never been on campus, this was a good opportunity to share the campus with other physics students. This also gave the members from other chapters an idea of what it is like to study physics and astronomy at ERAU.

Planetarium Show:

Embry-Riddle has a planetarium on campus attached to the STEM building. Since many shows about physics and astronomy are shown in the planetarium, we played a show called Phantom of the Universe for everyone at the conference. This show is about the Higgs-boson and large particle colliders. It also had visuals from the big bang and the formation of galaxies. This was about twenty-five minutes and was an awesome, more relaxed activity that everyone enjoyed.

Demo Show:

We also did a demo show for everyone who came to the meeting. Our chapter’s outreach coordinator picked several physics demonstrations we have. We performed and explained these demos to the meeting attendees. The demos we showed were, fabric of space time, cloud in a bottle, centripetal motion, tesla coil, and simple motor. Later we did a workshop on how to build and teach the simple motor. The demos we picked were ones that we often show at schools or to the general public. This show gave us an opportunity to show the other chapters how we teach these demos. Some of the members from other chapters also contributed their ideas and methods for explaining demos. Sharing ideas on how to do physics demos help improve everyone’s ability to teach and show demos to the public. The other chapters left with more ideas on how to improve their demos, or build new ones. As did we. This was a highly productive and fun section of the zone meeting.

Build your own Motor:

Having each attendee build their own electric motor was part of the demo show but deserves its own section. This was the most hands-on part of the demo show. We gave each attendee all the materials they would need to build their own motor. The reason this demo is special is because not only is it hand on, but the materials are cheap and the final product can be taken home. Doing hands-on demos that average people can share with their friends and family is crucial to outreach because it pulls science down from some ungraspable and high place to right in front of you. Even the attendees that had taken a class on how electric motors work still had a great time helping others to get theirs to work and optimizing their own motors to go as fast as possible.

Resume/CV Workshop:

After a lunch break we worked with a few professors to improve our CVs and resumes. Resumes are something that often gets left until the last minute for undergraduate students, so focusing a workshop towards refining resumes is crucial to a student’s success. Each of the professors that helped had a very different background and history. While they all have a lot of experience, one professor founded the physics major at Embry-Riddle, another is the current physics and astronomy department chair, and the last was much more recently as a student herself giving each of them a unique perspective on what should be in a resume or CV. Every attendee got the opportunity to talk to at least one of the professors and get their advice, but a lot of the attendees got to talk with several professors to get multiple sets of advice. By the time that the workshop was over, every attendee had notes and edits to their resume that they would have had to go out of their way to get, but organizing an event around making resumes simple got rid of all of that extra effort.

Janessa’s Talk:

Our chapter’s SPS President Janessa gave a talk on How to Have a Successful SPS Chapter, covering topics from the big ideas of SPS – outreach, professional development, and fundraising – to the small details – social media, logos, and merchandise. It can be difficult to have an active chapter, so we wanted to share our takeaways from being officers and members in hopes of giving the other schools new ideas. SPS National requires a few things from each individual chapter such as bylaws, active membership, and a professor to advise the club, but these are just the building blocks of a successful club. Janessa discussed all the things we’ve done to make this chapter our own, and invited comments and questions to spark a conversation among everyone.


After Janessa’s talk, there was supposed to be only one event left: observatory night. From 8-10pm that night, we had planned to use our campus’s telescope to look at objects in the night sky, but due to cloud coverage, we had to unfortunately cancel this event. Instead, after Janessa’s talk, we took everyone to the observatory for a tour. It’s not often a campus has its own observatory, so we were happy to show it off and the other schools happy to see it.


As our meeting was coming to an end, we wanted to be able to talk to our new friends from schools in our zone, so our officers organized a “Donuts and Networking Event”. At this event we had Donuts and Coffee catered by Dunkin’ Donuts. Our intention with this event was to organize a designated space that allowed us to further get to know each other. Students grabbed their donuts and coffee and mingled with each other talking about their respective Physics/Astronomy Programs, their own research, and the whole weekend in general. Both universities were getting back on the road after this event, so we said our goodbyes after this. Some students exchanged numbers or other social media to keep in touch.


After being a ‘dormant’ Zone, we can safely say that after this zone meeting, the active participation in SPS National will gradually increase. Over the weekend, both schools had expressed their interest in hosting a zone meeting. Everything over the weekend went smoothly and left room open for everyone to have fun even if they were volunteering for a fundraising table shift, hosting a talk, or finishing their homework in the corner. Overall, there is a lot of opportunity for growth and development in the next coming years, and our officer team trusts the Zone Councilor and next Associate Zone Councilor with achieving our long term goals. We are incredibly grateful for both Universities that attended and for the generosity of SPS National in terms of funding.

Areas of Alignment: