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Physics Open House attracts all-ages audience

The Weber State University Physics Department held an open house on Friday night that included lights, lasers, rockets and a “physics circus.”

Many interactive activities were included for those of all ages. Nearly every room was at full capacity at one time or another throughout the physics gala.

Presentations were held in almost every room that included electricity, spinning objects, magnetism, dry ice, cats, the physics of air, high-altitude ballooning and even a star party. Many of the demonstrations and activities were geared toward the hundreds of children younger than 12 in attendance.

Among the most popular events was the “Circus of Physics” demonstration show by professors Adam Johnston and Colin Inglefield, which featured levitating billiard balls and disappearing test tubes in a standing-room-only room.

In another demonstration earlier that evening, professor John Sohl popped balloons and cut tape with high-powered laser pointers.

“These are not the lasers you want your kids playing laser tag with,” Sohl said.

The Ott Planetarium was at full capacity while attendance members waited in line outside for the next showing throughout the night. The planetarium showed videos every half hour that included a special on the Hubble telescope, photos from the Mars rover Curiosity, and a tribute to Neil Armstrong, the first man ever to walk on the moon, who recently passed away.

More than 1,000 people have attended the free physics open house in recent years since its inception in 2007. Food and drinks were complimentary.

The event also included a canned food drive. Those who attended were encouraged to bring canned foods so that they could race them down an inclined plane in soup-can races and ultimately donate them to the Utah Food Bank.

Stacy Wardle, who attended the open house, said she had a fun time and was glad she came.

“It has been a lot of fun to be here tonight,” Wardle said. “I thought the planetarium and the different demonstrations were excellent. I wish I had time to see more than what I saw. Everyone in my family loved it, though; we hope it happens again.”

Chase Walton, who was there with his nephews, said he was awed by all the different events, while his nephews were having a blast.

“The physics circus was awesome; I think I learned a couple cool things,” Walton said. “The kids had a blast running from event to event, and I think they loved it too, especially the homemade rockets and laser demonstration.”

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