Zone 15 Meeting

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SPS Zone Meeting

March 1, 2019 to March 2, 2019

Utah State University

Meeting host:

Society of Physics Students


Vanessa Chambers

SPS Chapter:

Hosting a Zone conference was more work than expected, but the rewards far outweigh the lack of sleep!! The 2019 Zone 15 conference was hosted at Utah State University in conjunction with the Idaho-Utah AAPT Section Meeting. We got to spend time networking with other students and meet educators and administrators from other institutions. Some of us even took the opportunity to present our research to the attendees.

Poster setup started at 7 am. Once the posters were up and ready, we attended the morning session of the AAPT meeting. There were several talks including “Flexing Our Physics Muscles” and ‘Acceleration of a Pendulum”. The poster session was held in the morning with AAPT attendees acting as judges. This included both faculty and students so we got some different perspectives.

Lunch was excellent. We ate at the Aggie Marketplace. “All you can eat” was a nice touch for the “starving students” in attendance. We also got to assist with some of the AAPT business, like where next year’s AAPT section meeting will be held. Utah Valley University won by popular vote, mainly because they can have coffee at their meetings. The other contender was Brigham Young University; coffee cannot be served on that campus. Although there was no representation from UVU SPS this year, maybe they would be willing to host the Zone 15 meeting next year again with AAPT!

SPS broke off for an SPS exclusive afternoon session. There was representation from three universities. BYU-Idaho stood out with 8 participants, USU and University of Utah each had 2 students attending. We started out with the SPS National presentations provided to use. The PhysCon slideshow was very engaging and got a few people pretty excited about the possibility of going in November. Physics Jeopardy was a hit. We gave away prized for the top scorers. 

We then explained and built some smaller demos that are relatively cheap, fun to make, and portable, making them an easy starter project for outreach and hands on demo opportunities. One is paper circuits where students are ab;e to make circuits on paper using conductive tape, batteries, and LEDs. The second is a reflection demo; using transparencies, a template, and some scissors, one can produce a “hologram” using an app on a smartphone.

This demo is a really cool way to talk about reflection and light. Last, Kenneth Zia, USU graduate student and dedicated SPS volunteer, gave a short talk on the research semester he spent in Japan, his PhD research, and some of the interesting work done by his major professor. 

All attendees were then gathered for the presentation of awards, conference picture, and a prize giveaway. The top three scoring poster presentations were awarded Amazon gift cards and a medal. Using a name draw, each attendee in turn got to choose a prize; anything from thermos-reactive putty to the classic balancing bird demo to an Airzooka gun.

Overall, this zone meeting was a success. I would highly recommend combining with another national/regional meeting if possible. Those attending the AAPT meeting were happy to help with poster judging and the talks they gave were informative from a student perspective as well. But the best thing is: it’s possible that this zone meeting successfully reactivated the BYUIdaho chapter. One of their students even ran for AZC this year. We’ll see if he is successful!!

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