Zone 9 Meeting and More Fall 2016 Zone Action

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In The Zone - Regional SPS Highlights

Zone 9 Meeting and More Fall 2016 Zone Action

Battling it out in Platteville


Eric Cinnamon

University of Wisconsin-Platteville

A battle bot ready for battle. Photo courtesy of the University of Wisconsin – Platteville SPS chapter.

Battling to the death… of a balloon! That was the main entertainment at the SPS Zone 9 meeting this year, with five universities attending the festivities.

The battle bots, made from kits designed by members of the UW-Platteville SPS chapter, were built to resemble Mario Party bumper balloon cars. The teams in attendance assembled their bots and modified them as desired. Each bot had some evolution of a sharpened stick on a servo and a balloon attached to the back end. A popped balloon signaled the temporary death of a bot! A number of bots also fell into the pit of doom—a bridge-crossed pit filled with T-shirts.

The tournament was one of the highlights of the “Battle Bots! Edition” of the Zone 9 meeting in November, hosted by the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. UW-River Falls, Ripon College, St. Norbert, and Carthage College sent members of their local SPS chapters to enjoy the action.

The meeting started Friday night with pizza and making liquid nitrogen ice cream, followed by a number of student speakers. Topics included projects on the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, piezoelectric sensors, and neutron monitoring.

Saturday morning, we kicked the day off by building battle bots before beginning the epic tournament. It was won by Frederic the Conqueror, a battle bot built by a UW-Platteville student.

After the carnage of bots, the whole crew enjoyed lunch before listening to a variety of faculty speakers. Dr. Neil Duffie, professor emeritus of UW-Madison, gave a keynote talk regarding control theory and industry decision-making optimization. Finally, two professors and a student from UW-Platteville gave talks on quantum dots, carbon nanotube transistors, and creation and application of nanoscale membranes.

Our favorite things from the meeting were the chance to do fun science with new people, meet students from other chapters, learn about the specialties of other schools, make ice cream, and see battle bots hang by their balloons over the pit of doom. //

More FALL 2016 Zone Action

SPS Zone 5 met at the University of North Carolina at Asheville in November. Highlights included trivia, Physics Jeopardy, workshops on finding a career in physics and graduate school, a gravitational waves plenary, and a poster session.

SPS Zones 13 and 16 met jointly with regional sections of the American Physical Society and The American Association of Physics Teachers in October, hosted by New Mexico State University and the University of Texas, El Paso, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Highlights included a talk by Stephen Cass, coauthor of the Hollyweird Science book series, along with research talks and posters.

Wren Gregory (L) and Ashlyn Rickard (R) told students what graduate school is really like during their workshop, and posed here with SPS Director Brad Conrad. Photo by Michael Ruiz, UNC Asheville.


For information on regional SPS zone meetings, visit the SPS website at

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