Science Outreach Catalyst Kits (SOCKs)

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Science Outreach Catalyst Kits, or SOCKs, are free to SPS chapters (while supplies last) and contain an exploratory physics and science activity that is specifically designed for SPS chapters to use in outreach presentations to elementary, middle and high school students. Each SOCK comes with the essential materials to conduct a set of demonstrations, a comprehensive manual, and instructions on how to expand the demonstration to become a tried-and-true outreach activity. It's designed for chapters just starting out or those who are demo pros. SOCKs are designed and implemented annually by the SPS National interns and SPS National office staff.

 Sock 2020 image

The 2020-21 SOCK is done in conjunction with the American Acoustical Society (ASA) and explores the physics of... acoustics! This kit will focus on how we can visualize sound in real time, appreciate the sounds that we make as people, and look to examine the soundscapes around us! SOCK users will be able to work with students from elementary school age (5-10) up through high school. See below for more information on the demonstrations and activities included in the SOCK.

Portable Oscilloscope and Microphone: Sound is not visible to the human eye, but have you ever wondered what sound looks like? This demonstration utilizes a portable oscilloscope to visualize sound signals! Here we will measure the electrical signals of a microphone to show people their own voices.

Longitudinal and Transverse Waves: What are waves? And, more specifically, what are sound waves? A slinky is used to explain two types of waveforms - longitudinal and transverse - while a tuning fork exhibits sound waves as longitudinal waves.
Audacity and Harmonics: Interested in learning how to use recording software? This demonstration involves using Audacity to record and observe waveforms and spectrograms.
Interactive Soundscapes: We can see many features of a place, but what we hear in a place tells us a lot more than what we see. Here we will listen to soundscapes and travel to different places: the airport, a bustling city, a hiking trail in the mountains, and even a prairie where the crickets sing. This demonstration will highlight the qualities of sound that makes each sound unique.

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Explore other inexpensive outreach demonstrations. 

Explore previous SOCKs here.

Request an SOCK

SPS SOCK requests are accepted through an online application form (or if an ASA chapter, please email this information directly to bconrad [at] with an email subject of "IYS SOCK"). Please note that you will need to provide:

  • Contact information and the student project leader.
  • Your school and chapter mailing information.
  • Responses to the following three prompts:
  1. Please describe why your group is interested in using the SOCK for outreach.
  2. Please describe the experience your chapter has with outreach activities.
  3. Approximately how many members will be involved in the SOCK outreach event?
  • The intended audience, type of event, and anticipated date for which you are considering using the SOCK (if there is more than one, just choose one).
  • (If applicable) your SPS advisor’s name and email address. Your advisor will be asked to confirm his/her support of your proposed SOCK activity.

SOCKs are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis among the eligible requests. 

Explore SOCK kits from previous years here.