Celebrating Science with a Fantastic Festival

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Interactions - SPS Chapters in Action

Celebrating Science with a Fantastic Festival


Carlee Garrett, SPS Member, Texas A&M University


The grand finale makes an impression! Photo by Tim St. Martin.

The physics and astronomy department at Texas A&M University runs one of the largest physics outreach programs in the nation, and our SPS chapter is the backbone of these activities. The SPS team brings physics demonstrations to where the people are: First Friday Street Festivals in downtown Bryan, Heritage Days, and Texas A&M’s popular football games. SPS members also volunteer for the Physics Show, another popular free program in which thousands of K-12 students are bused to campus from all over Texas to explore fun, interactive physics experiments they don’t see in their classrooms.

On top of all that, our chapter plays a prominent role in the largest annual science outreach event at Texas A&M—the Physics and Engineering Festival. Over the weekend, the event attracts more than 7,000 visitors from the local community, the state, and all over the country. 


A family learns about buoyancy as bubbles float over dry ice. Photo by Geoffrey Franceschi.

The festival is a fantastic time for science lovers. We have hundreds of hands-on demonstrations for visitors that explore different areas of physics. Visitors also get to hear from guest speakers who are prominent in the field. Past speakers include Stephen Hawking, Brian Greene, and renowned astronaut Nancy Currie-Gregg. And, of course, the event ends with a bang—five barrel liquid nitrogen depth charges, explosions powerful enough to shoot water three stories high! You can see a test run on our YouTube channel at youtu.be/LjW81NCfjI0. 

Our SPS members work tirelessly over the festival weekend to share physics demonstrations and our passion for science with attendees. But our involvement isn’t limited to the festival itself. We also help build some of these demonstrations through the Discover, Explore, and Enjoy Physics and Engineering (DEEP) program. Through this program, SPS members work alongside other physics and engineering students to construct or improve demonstrations in small teams led by graduate students. We get valuable, hands-on experience and improve our teamwork
skills in the process, and also develop good presentation skills when we showcase our demonstrations.


A volunteer throws a frozen racquetball during a festival demonstration. Photo by Tim St. Martin.

To reach as many people as possible with our most popular demonstrations, some SPS members starred in a YouTube video series called Real Physics Live. The videos were put to use during our 2021 festival, which was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our festivals are in person again, but we’ve maintained the virtual component to continue impacting a global audience. To keep the community engaged with physics, the department has also recently enhanced its social media presence by posting videos of memorable demonstrations on the department’s YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok accounts. We’d love for you to connect with us at linktr.ee/tamuphysastr, and we hope to see you at a future festival!


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Interactions - SPS Chapters in Action