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Randolph College One of Just Four Colleges Honored With Blake Lilly Prize

Society of Physics Students chapter receives national award for community outreach efforts

8/18/2008 1:51:31 PM


LYNCHBURG — Randolph College’s Society of Physics Students (SPS) was one of just four college chapters nationwide recently awarded the 2008 Blake Lilly Prize.

The annual award recognizes SPS chapters and individuals who make a genuine effort to positively influence the attitudes of school children and the general public about physics.

Randolph students were recognized for their efforts organizing the growing annual Science Day program. This event, held in the spring with the help of the Education Department, is open to third through sixth graders from the community. More than 150 children, family members, and teachers participated in the hands-on science activities offered by three faculty members and 40 student volunteers.

“For a long time, our SPS chapter has had the philosophy that the most important thing we can do is to bring physics to the public,” said Peter Sheldon, associate professor of physics. “We often have many activities open to the general campus, such as the Creative Science Challenge and Photo Contest. We have gone out to the public with physics demonstration shows, our summer science camp, and we would like to start up a Science Festival for older kids. But the biggest activity we do every year is the Science Day for elementary school kids, and we are thrilled to have been recognized for that effort.”

During Randolph’s Science Day event, participants were broken into groups of 20 and rotated through each 30 minute activity, which were held at various places on campus. Activities included: 1) tower building with spaghetti and marshmallows, 2) lightning demo show, 3) science Jeopardy, 4) dinosaur scavenger hunt, 4) disposable diapers and how they work: an exploration into hydrophilic superabsorbant polymers, 5) Newton's laws and roller coaster science, 6) clean water: building a simple water filtration system, and 7) building on earthquake shake tables. As a finale, students were invited to run on the Human-Sized Hamster Wheel, built by the SPS to increase awareness of alternative energy sources.

"The Blake Lilly Prize recognizes our chapter's overwhelming commitment to science outreach for the last four years," said Kacey Meaker, a `08 graduate now attending the University of California at Berkeley. "I have been really proud to be a part of SPS, because all of us work really hard to inspire young children to go into science and make the public more aware of science."

As a Blake Lilly Prize winner, the Randolph SPS chapter will receive a set of the three-volume Feynman Lectures on Physics and receive national recognition .

There are more than 700 SPS chapters on campuses across the country. About 5,000 students take part in chapter activities each year, making SPS the fourth largest physics society in the United States.

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations