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Loyola students help show thousands of middle and high school students why physics is fun

Loyola press release - October 30, 2014

When an expected 1,800 middle and high school students converge on New Orleans for the American Physical Society’s Student Plasma Expo 2014, they’ll be learning some of those difficult science concepts through hands-on demonstrations and experiments performed by a team of physics students from Loyola University New Orleans. Sparks will literally fly at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Thursday, Oct. 30 and Friday, Oct. 31 when the 19-member Loyola student team will showcase how electric charges are generated, among other experiments.

“When the Loyola students are making a difference by inspiring the next generation of physics students, that in turn inspires them,” said Loyola physics professor Tirthabir Biswas, Ph.D.

Loyola will host various experiments and hands-on demonstrations, including a Van de Graaff generator that makes generating electric charges fun. Students can create sparks or “lightning” between two metal balls and can even make their hair stand straight up.

The students will also learn about generating electricity with a hand crank generator. Loyola’s team will show the middle and high school students how to power a light bulb with the turn of a crank. To demonstrate the physics concept of conservation of angular momentum, the Loyola team will use a rotating stool, which brings to life something much bigger—the same principle that dictates the motion of planets around the sun.

The school groups will rotate through the displays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both expo days, and the event is open to the public from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 30. A complete schedule is available online.