On Saturday, March 17, the Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) event hosted by the JMU Department of Math and Statistics took place.
The event is aimed at middle school girls and mission statement on the event’s page on the JMU website (linked above) is: “Expanding Your Horizons at James Madison University engages young women in high-quality hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities and small-group interactions with female scientist role models to foster and support the young women’s interest in STEM fields, to increase their awareness of opportunities in STEM-related careers, and to empower them to see themselves as future participants in these fields and careers.”
The Department of Physics and Astronomy showed demonstrations to the girls who participated EYH as part of their day.
Natali Bushamani (‘18) presented a demonstration of lights of different colors created by heating gas of different elements. Spectra glasses were handed out to the audience so that they could look through them to see the differences in spectra of each of the elements. As the lights were turned off in the auditorium and each light was shown, after a quick explanation to the girls from Natali of what the element was. The elements included Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, and some others.
Alle Goodis (’19) called on volunteers from the audience to have the girls come up to the stage and get their hands on the Van de Graaff and learn about electrostatics. The first volunteer came up to the stage and placed her hands on the Van de Graaff. Her hair stood on end, which pulled some laughs from the audience. Then a group of five girls came up to the stage and all held hands before letting go and all getting slightly shocked. Seeing the interest in the girls’ want to volunteer was especially fun when Alle told them they’d probably get shocked, and they only became more enthusiastic.
Yvonne Kinsella (’18) presented some liquid nitrogen demos to the audience, including pouring it on the stage as the audience watched it evaporate, quickly sticking in her hand and pulling out while explaining that it evaporates quickly enough that it doesn’t hurt as long as the exposure is quick. Two Erlenmeyer flasks were filled with liquid nitrogen and then balloons were put on top of them, which then proceeded to burst, which caused a lot of commotion in the audience because of the loud, sudden noise. Finally, a few tangerines and one rubber ball were frozen in the nitrogen and smashed on the floor of the stage for the audience to see.
The last demonstration was by Mary Ogborn (’21). She did a “ring toss” demonstration, using an electromagnetic ring launcher. This was a quick demonstration which required some explanation of E&M principles to the audience.The Department of Physics and Astronomy’s demos at EYH 2018 were highly educational and interesting, keeping the audience of girls engaged and actively participating. Overall it was a successful piece of the day-long event.