Zone 9 and 11 Joint Meeting

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SPS Zone Meeting

February 16, 2018 to February 17, 2018

University of Wisconsin River Falls

Meeting host:

Society of Physics Students


Samantha G. Pedek

The SPS 2018 Zone 9 and 11 meeting was hosted at the University of Wisconsin River Falls on Friday February 16th and Saturday February 17th.  The event had registered 52 attendees from 3 different Zones. The Attendee from zone 2 must have been the Director of SPS Brad Conrad. The graph also shows the remaining percentages from the other Zones. Many of the attendees chose to download and make use of the customized Guidebook app prepared for the meeting by Jacob Hanson-Flores, one of the UWRF SPS chapter members. This app enabled everyone to check the agenda, share photos and make networking connections.

The meeting kicked off with an interactive tower building competition. Participants were grouped randomly and give a set number of marshmallows and toothpicks. The winners received science oriented books. 

Following the marshmallow towers competition, we had an individual zone breakout where we got to know the other chapters that made up zones 9 and 11. And then we had pizza for dinner.

With our bellies full of Domino’s pizza and other snacks we proceeded to the trivia contest written by Brad Conrad. The trivia was science based and the winner received a trophy to pass on for the following zone meetings.

This concluded the Friday night activities but we still had a jam-packed Saturday full of awesome events.

Saturday began with tours of the University of Wisconsin - River Falls Labs and undergraduate research, where the students could see our Optical trap and Michaelson Interferometers. Also included in the tours was a Documentary presented in our Planetarium. The Documentary showed Ice Cube, The South Pole Neutrino Observatory, and what it is like to research neutrinos here on earth.  

We then had a breakfast and coffee break since the day had only just begun. This gave the attendees another chance to communicate with others. Following the coffee break Brad Conrad gave his Workshop, Okay Not to Know. In this workshop Brad Conrad talked about what it’s like for a physics major in the post school life. The topic was extremely useful and lots of statistics were given on the career paths of physicists. He also emphasized the importance of networking for jobs and schooling opportunities so he conducted many sessions of networking with people we had yet to talk to. All in all an incredible workshop from Brad Conrad.

We followed the meeting with an individual zone breakout to discuss upcoming trips chapters might be making and how the chapters might fund those trips. One of the discussed trips was Phys Con 2019. A more urgent discussion topic was the upcoming Associate Zone Council position and what that entails. Samantha Pedek and Victoria Eng, our two attending Associate Zone Councilors spoke to each zone about the duties of an Associate Zone Councilor.  

When the Individual Zone breakout concluded the Poster session began. The poster session consisted of 13 different posters from Zones 9 and 11. The topics varied, showing the diversity of all the school’s undergraduate research programs. Some of the topics included Astrophysics Notebooks, Structural, Magnetic, and magnetocaloric properties of Co2VGa-based Heusler componds, and Self Navigating Field Programmable Gate Array Robots.  The Presenters were graded and given feedback on their presentations. The Attendees at this point had worked up an appetite and it was time for lunch.

Lunch was catered by Subway which accommodated to everyone’s dietary restrictions. With our bellies full the Demo Off could begin. 3 of the schools competed for the Demo Off prize, 1 for zone 11 and 2 for zone 9. The trophies were Laser Cut plaques designed and produced by the University of Wisconsin River Falls Physics Department Laser Cutter guru, Dylan Frikken.

The Zone 11 winner was the South Dakota State University with their depiction of waves while the Zone 9 winner was the University of Wisconsin River Falls with their Fluidized Bed.

When the Demo off concluded we Skyped another zone meeting in progress that was eating lunch. Zone 3 was in Kansas and they were just getting started for the day.

Overall the meeting was a huge success and the networking opportunities were invaluable. To gather undergraduate physicists locally and hear about other opportunities at schools near one another shows how connected the physics community is. The Poster session was also productive with the feedback from the graders and this information can be used going forward for future presentations. It was truly an honor hosting the meeting and the SPS chapter at the University of Wisconsin River Falls would like to thank SPS National for this opportunity.

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