2014 Accepted Outreach Proposals

Brief Summaries of Accepted Proposals


University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee: Black Holes, Zombie Stars and Lasers: Gravitational Wave Astronomy for Everyone
“This project is designed to convey the excitement of [Gravitational Wave] physics and astrophysics to the public through visits to K-12 schools and a public lecture series… This project aims to mitigate some of the challenges faced by local schools by engaging Milwaukee area K-12 students with topics from GW physics and astrophysics while promoting critical thinking skills. Each visit will involve a presentation, some demonstrations, and some group activities….The second activity proposed in this project involves the direct engagement of the Milwaukee area community through a five-part public lecture series entitled Coffee Shop Astrophysics.”

Universidad Autonoma de Madrid: Condensed Matter Physics: So Close and Such a Stranger
“The goal of our project is to develop a short documentary explaining the meaning and the impact of condensed matter physics, a branch of human activity that is as amazing as unknown by the general public. This audiovisual product will describe to the public in general, but especially to first-year college students, the main concepts and systems that belong to this field of physics, and the most important advances made in science and in technology in the last 70 years. This will show the richness of condensed matter and illustrate the fascinating underlying physics. From objects that levitate to liquids that turn solid at the slightest touch! Our message is: breakthroughs come from those little questions that lead to big answers.”

Montana State University: Einstein’s Voyage: A Gravitational Wave Voyage Through Space and Time
“Einstein's Symphony is an original planetarium show that aims at exposing a worldwide audience to the beauty of Einstein's theory of General Relativity and gravitational waves. This will be achieved through a narrative that explains what spacetime is, how merging black holes and neutron stars produce gravitational waves in spacetime and how the physics community is working to detect them. The show will prioritize scientific accuracy, leveraging the knowledge of physicists and educators in the proposal team, while using visualizations of actual numerical evolutions of the Einstein equations that describe the merger of neutron stars and black holes and the propagation of gravitational waves.”

Michigan State University: Rare Isotopes at your Fingertips
“National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) and Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab intend to communicate the goals, methods, and benefits of nuclear science to a new and broader population through a touch-based video game. Available through one or more app stores as a free download, this game would have the potential to reach the general public with accessible yet compelling gameplay. Such play would be geared to convey several topics from the nuclear field: variation of isotopes, nuclear reactions, radioactive decay, etc.”

University of Wisconsin- Madison: Cosmic Rays and Radiation at Home and in the Classroom: Cell Phone Camera Sensors as Particle Detectors
“There have been a number of successful outreach and education projects using semi-professional particle detectors (featuring scintillators, photomultipliers, and high-speed electronics) to detect cosmic rays. However, the instrumentation is expensive and requires expertise to set up and use. We believe our approach using cell phones provides a valuable new complement to this traditional approach. The low cost and ease of use of cell phone – based particle detection makes it accessible to a wide range of schools (including those with limited resources) and also to interested members of the public at home without access to expensive equipment.”

Axolotl Science Outreach: Galileo Mini-Golf: Teaching Physics through Miniature Golf
“The aim of Galileo Mini-Golf is to use miniature golf to teach physics in a fun way. Think about it—people love mini-golf, no matter their age, gender, education or background, and there’s really no other recreation that brings such a broad cross-section of people face-to-face with basic physics. Now imagine playing a round of Galileo Mini-Golf: each hole illustrates a fundamental concept of physics with the concepts building one upon another; each hole has sensors to record the ball’s trajectory and graphical displays for data and statistics. Through the creative use of new technology, and a deep conviction that the tricky and subtle concepts of physics should be explored and not swept under the rug, Galileo Mini-Golf can become not only an effective way to teach physics but a true “wow” experience that inspires kids of all ages to find wonder in science, technology and the universe around us.”

Kitchen Theatre Company: Physics&Theater Lab, a Youth Theater Troupe
“The middle and high school students in the Physics&Theater Lab will develop and present theatrical physics demonstrations, perform original plays and musicals with physics themes, and act as physics ambassadors to young people at schools, camps, and science centers in Central New York. [The play] tells of Mildweather Middle School, a run-of-the-mill school where nothing interesting ever happens until the students decide to put on a school-wide physics fair (a science fair in the earlier version of the musical). Not only does the physics fair turn out to be an exciting event, but the kids learn physics concepts which are put to use when they are unexpectedly trapped in the school library after hours. Physics saves the day!”