Monday, June 08, 2009

Why I Do Outreach

Hello fellow physics enthusiasts:

This is me, from about a month ago, graduating from NC State University with physics and applied math degrees.

Now I'm working as an intern in the APS outreach department, and this is my first blog post.


You love physics, and you want everyone else to feel the same way you do but… Kenneth Ball explains it best in his Technician article:

I'll meet someone new and we'll start chatting. "Hey, what's your major?" they'll ask.

"I do physics," I'll respond.

"Oh man, I feel for sorry for you. I hate physics," they'll respond, trying to sympathize as they casually defecate on my interests.

Hey guys, it's OK. I hate what you do, too. Whatever it is, I hate it just because I don't understand it. I hope that makes you feel better about yourself.

This is why I love outreach. It turns out people don’t hate physics at all, it’s just that some people hate physics class. I have never met a single person that doesn’t think liquid nitrogen is awesome. The demo coordinator at NC State told me that the point of outreach is not to lecture- it's to get people excited enough about science to ask their own questions. I try to keep this in mind in hopes that I can make physics as fun as possible for as many people as possible.

These pictures are from Family Science Night at Washington GT Elementary, something I did every year in college. Teachers are more than happy to let you take over their classes for a little while, and the kids think you're magic, so it’s an all around rewarding experience.


  1. Well if you can make everyone as excited as the kid in the last picture, I'd say you're pretty damn successful...

    And don't forget to "liberate" enough liquid nitrogen to make crunchy marshmallows...

  2. Welcome to the Buzz!