BU and TSTC Hosting Physics Circus At Mayborn Museum

  • News Photo 3380
    2/22/2006 - La Vega ISD students play "Who Wants To Be A Scientist"
  • News Photo 3379
    2/22/2006 - La Vega ISD students explore one of the dozens of science exhibits.
Feb. 15, 2006

by Frank Raczkiewicz

Thousands of parents, teachers and students from across Texas soon will be on the Baylor University campus for the annual CASPER Physics Circus. The event is the premier outreach program for the CASPER partnership and is produced by faculty, staff and students from Baylor University and Texas State Technical College Waco (TSTC).

Dubbed "The Greatest Physics Circus on Earth," the science festival consists of three main parts: an interactive theatrical play with a scientific theme, dozens of hands-on science exhibits, which include a Vandergraff simulator that makes a person's hair stand up when touched, and a game show called "Who Wants To Be A Scientist", which participants will test what they have learned for prizes.

"We decided to stick with the game show theme because that holds the attention of our versatile audience," said Brenda Suggs, the physics circus project director. "The game's format will allow students to help out their classmates by being a lifeline resource."

Show times for the event, which will be held at the Mayborn Museum and is open to the public, are 9 to 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, Feb. 20 to March 3. Cost of admission is $15 per person for individuals. A family rate of $12 per person (with three or more) and a classroom rate of $10 per person (with five or more) are also available.

"It's a fun way to learn about science and technology and it lets kids explore the possible opportunities for them," said Dr. Truell Hyde, who has organized the event for the past seven years. "We have a real shortage in our country of graduates in the science and technology fields, so hopefully this gets kids excited about those subjects."

The physics circus is coordinated through CASPER (Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research), a Baylor University Center whose experimental research lab exists on the TSTC campus and functions as a partnership between the two schools. In previous years, the circus was funded by a grant from GEAR UP Waco and subsidized through the U.S. Department of Education. After six years the grant has ended, forcing the circus to become self-supporting this year. Hyde, who is also Baylor's vice provost for research and the director of CASPER, said he is hoping to recoup some of the cost through ticket sales, while at the same time trying to find local foundations willing to financially support the circus. Both TSTC and Baylor have expressed strong interest in the program's continuation and expansion.

"We actually have another grant proposal just out the door that would fund a new version of the physics circus focusing around nano-science and nano-technology. So maybe we can not only keep this circus going, but also expand it," Hyde said.

Those interested can register by calling 710-3763 or by visiting the Physics Circus web site.

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