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Last modified: Monday, October 22, 2012

IU Bloomington science departments to make learning fun with open house activities

Oct. 22, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington's astronomy, chemistry, geology, mathematics, and physics departments will again host their ever-popular science open houses -- designed to amaze, entrance and educate young and old alike -- all day Saturday, Oct. 27.

Science Open House

It's a big science weekend coming up when Indiana University Bloomington's astronomy, chemistry and physics departments conduct their annual day of open houses -- filled with experiments, activities and tours for all ages -- Saturday, Oct. 27.

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The open houses begin at 9 a.m.; the physics and astronomy events, based out of Swain Hall West, 727 E. Third St., end at 2:45 p.m., while the Chemistry Open House, in the Chemistry Building at 800 E. Kirkwood Ave., ends 15 minutes later at 3 p.m. Each of the open houses is free and features a wide range of activities, including pumpkins being dropped from fifth-floor windows and the Department of Chemistry's well-received magic shows.

The Chemistry Open House celebrates National Chemistry Week, a community-based annual event that unites American Chemical Society local sections, businesses, schools and individuals in communicating the importance of chemistry to quality of life. This year's theme is "Nanotechnology -- The Smallest Big Idea in Science," and it marks the 25th anniversary of National Chemistry Week.

Chemistry magic shows will be conducted at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; several laboratories will be open for tours and will feature activities led by faculty, graduate students and staff, including the scientific glassblowing facility. Visitors will be able to view a number of current research posters about the latest work being done by IU researchers.

The Physics & Astronomy Open House also will feature crowd-pleasing experimentation and science theory. Participants will make waves and analyze sounds in the Acoustics Room, spin dizzily in the Mechanics Room, create crackling sparks in the Electromagnetism Room, experience strange optical effects in the Light & Color Room, explore quantum effects and current particle physics experiments being done at Fermilab and the Large Hadron Collider in the Modern Physics Room, play with optical illusions in the Biophysics Room and see objects shattered after being plunged in liquid nitrogen in low-temperature demonstrations.

Mathematics events will be held in room 135 of Swain West, and will include tips on how to improve your game of "Dots and Boxes."

The always popular Contest Room will challenge science knowledge and reward brainpower with prizes. The Outdoor Exploratorium features the perplexing Coriolis Force Merry-go-Round, dry ice bowling, and a seismometer and ground-penetrating radar from the Department of Geological Sciences.

"Magical Science Theater," a demonstration lecture by the IU Physics Club, will have two shows, at 9:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m., in Swain West 119, and are suitable for children in Grades 1 to 12, as well as college students and adults.

The Physics & Astronomy Open House also will include a guided tour of the IU Integrated Science and Accelerator Technology Hall (for ages 13 and older), as well as tours of nearby Kirkwood Observatory and the solar observatory given by IU astronomers. The pumpkin drop will take place at 10:40 a.m. and 2:40 p.m. in the West parking lot.

Physics professor Harold Ogren will report on the Higgs boson discovery from noon until 12:40 p.m. An update from Department of Geology chair Lisa Pratt on the Curiosity rover's exploration of Mars will precede Ogren's presentation at 11 a.m., and the International Space Station will be the topic for political science professor Bill Bianco from 1 to 1:40 p.m. All three presentations are in Swain West Room 007.

Faculty and students will be on hand to assist, explain activities, discuss results and chat with those interested in careers or education in chemistry, physics, applied physics and astronomy at Indiana University. IU Bloomington's astronomy, chemistry and physics departments are units within IU Bloomington's College of Arts and Sciences.

More information is available at Chemistry Open House and at Physics & Astronomy Open House, or by contacting Steve Chaplin, IU Communications, at or 812-856-1896.