Classic SPS

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Chapter Shorts

Classic SPS

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The well-earned hammock zone. Photo courtesy of Jason Slinker.

The Hammock Zone

by Alison Spadaro, SPS Chapter President, University of Texas at Dallas

Physics students and faculty at the University of Texas at Dallas enjoyed our department picnic last year. Attendees spread out in four areas: the food table, a “kids” table (where the undergrads hung out), a games area where small children and a fashionably dressed dog spent most of their time, and the hammock zone, which consisted solely of our then SPS chapter president, Brandon Sike, and the hammock he brought. Determined to have a relaxing break from finals season, he aimed to set up the hammock between two trees at the edge of the games area. After a fearsome battle—and to the surprise of the many onlookers—he finally succeeded. One can’t help but think of this as a metaphor for the struggles our department faced during the height of COVID-19. Although for two years we felt as though we had lost both our picnic and the community it stood for, just like Brandon’s battle with the hammock, we were ultimately successful.

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SPS chapter members pose with the physics-homework-themed rock. Photo courtesy of Sarah Flavin.

The Rock

by William Greene, SPS Member, University of Tennessee

When Professor Lawrence Lee came to the University of Tennessee (UT) two years ago, he knew the importance of studying outside the classroom. Like many professors, he assigned out-of-class reading and required students to submit notes as proof of completion. But unlike others, Professor Lee made it abundantly clear that students could turn in notes however they pleased. So we submitted notes typed in Word documents, written on iPads, scrawled on scratch paper at the last second, formatted nicely with LaTex, and during the Halloween season, painted on a pumpkin. But our outreach coordinator, Sarah Flavin, suggested we step things up. 

The Rock is a nearly hundred-ton boulder that serves as an iconic landmark and outlet for student expression at UT. A symbol of the university community, the Rock has hosted political messages, football festivities, a marriage proposal—and now, our classical mechanics notes.

Chapter report excerpts have been edited for clarity and length.


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