Clark team shares physics and fun at AAAS Family Science Days

At the AAAS Family Science Days (Feb. 16-17) in Boston, Clark University junior Tyler Flanagan talks with a young visitor about the “Cartesian diver” experiment, which demonstrates the principle of buoyancy.

Clark University students and faculty presented hands-on science demonstrations and activities as part of Family Science Days on Feb. 16 and 17 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. The event was coordinated by the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Several colleges and universities sponsored interactive tabletop exhibits where people were invited to learn about careers in science as well as have their questions answered by experts and volunteers convened by AAAS. The community science showcase was free to the public and geared mainly toward students in grade levels 6 to 12.

Arshad Kudrolli, professor and chair of the Physics Department, and Jan and Larry Landry University Professor, organized the Clark University contingent, along with Mark Turnbull, professor in the Carlson School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Also planning and/or attending the event were Ranjan Mukhopadhyay, associate professor of physics and assistant professor of physics Michael Boyer.

“It was wonderful to see so many young children who still had that sense of wonder that makes everything special,” said Turnbull, who counted more than 150 visitors – including a couple of Clark alumni—at his team’s table in just the first few hours. He applauded the “fantastic   enthusiasm” of the Clark undergraduate and graduate students who spent time on campus in preparation and in Boston helping to staff the Clark booth. Demonstrations included hands-on displays of a Cartesian diver, magnetic liquids, a parabolic “true images” reflector, and floating matter to exhibit what is known as the “Cheerios effect.”

Clark University chemistry Professor Mark Turnbull demonstrates the “Cartesian diver” experiment with a student visiting the Clark booth at the AAAS Family Science Days event in Boston, Feb. 16.

“These Clark students dragged themselves out of bed early on a Saturday morning to go to Boston and set up a booth to show kids how much fun science is,” Turnbull remarked. “Although the target age group was probably 5 to 12, some of our most fascinated ‘little kids’ were the college-age ones and the parents. Their enthusiasm made it more than worth anything that we invested in the event.”

Along with Kudrolli and Turnbull, the following members of the University’s science community assisted with Clark’s participation in the AAAS Family Science Days:

Julien Chopin, post-doc, Physics

Moumita Dasgupta, graduate student, Physics

Kevin Dunn, sophomore, Physics and Math

Daniel Ellowitz, senior, Physics

Unurbat Erdenemunkh, senior, Physics and Math

Franklin Feingold, sophomore, Physics

Tyler Flanagan, junior, Physics

Pascal Jundt, senior, Physics

Khary Richardson, graduate student, Physics

Daniel Rillovick, sophomore, Physics

Vikrant Yadav, graduate student, Physics

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to contemporary challenges in the areas of psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.