As part of the worldwide celebration of the World Year of Physics (WYP), the Division of Nuclear Physics (DNP) organized a 'Physics Fun Day' in Kahului, Maui on Saturday, Sept 17th, the day before their annual meeting. The celebration consisted of three parts:
· A Physics Open House at the Queen Ka'ahumahu Shopping Center in Kahului,
· Physics Olympics, a competition for teams from high school physics and middle school physical science classes throughout the island of Maui and a neighboring island, which also took place at the shopping center,
· a WYP public lecture by Lawrence Krauss, Professor of Astronomy, Case Western University, Einstein's Biggest Blunder: A Cosmic Mystery Story.
The event was a big success, in large part due to the help of the staff of the Women in Technology project of the Maui Economic Development Board. Their team, led by Jennilynne Gaskin, coordinated with the schools and handled publicity, which consisted of both newspaper advertisements and articles. The Queen Ka'ahumahu Shopping Center was a perfect venue. Not only is it the center of island life on weekends; the large open air atrium in the center of the shopping center was an ideal location.
At the Open House, nuclear scientists from universities and national laboratories manned tables with hands-on activities and give-aways covering a range of age groups and physics topics. Participants included Argonne, Brookhaven, Florida State, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Los Alamos, Michigan State, Rutgers and TUNL. In addition, there was a resource area for teachers.
The Physics Olympics was organized by Professor Con Beausang of University of Richmond based on similar events he has organized in Richmond and previously at Yale.
Volunteers included students attending the meeting and physics students and faculty from Maui Community College. Teams of four competed in five events. For example in Dive, dive, dive they were to construct a boat out of aluminum foil, straws and rubber bands. The winning team had the boat that could hold the most cargo (marbles) without sinking. Thanks in part to a Forum on Education mini-grant, all participants received lunch, World Year of Physics t-shirts, and the winning teams at both high school and middle school levels received WYP watches, presented by Lawrence Krauss. The second place teams received Einstein action figures.
Physics Fun Day culminated with a free public lecture by Lawrence Krauss, which took place at the nearby Maui Cultural Arts Center. The crowd of about 150 people was enthusiastic and full of questions.
The Physics Fun Day was organized by the DNP Education and Outreach Committee. The Steering Committee consisted of Con Beausang (U. of Richmond), Jolie Cizewski (Rutgers), Jennilynne Gaskin (Maui Economic Development Board), Peggy McMahan (LBNL, Chair) and Andrea Palounek (LANL).