The usual mode of operation of the Little Shop of Physics— visit a school and put dozens of hands-on experiment stations in a room and let dozens of students mill about and work with them— clearly won’t work in a pandemic. While the Little Shop van sits idle, the team is busier than ever!
Our theme this year says it all: We are all still connected. Despite the challenges of the current time, the Little Shop team of educators and undergraduate interns connects with people all over the country, and all over the globe. Each week, we present a live Zoom program, LSOP Live, to students in the local Poudre School District which attracts an audience of up to 1,000 people. We pick a topic, and LSOP interns develop engaging hands-on experiments that people can try at home, and interact with participants as they share them.
LSOP did special installments of LSOP Live for Homecoming, for CSU Speaks, and for the Poudre School District Virtual Fall Festival. LSOP’s broadcast on Facebook Live is watched by hundreds of people all around the world. We also have a special program in which a group of Science Outreach Scholars from the CNS Learning Community work over Zoom with students at the local Boys and Girls Club. CSU students and BGC students work together on investigations on magnetism, light and color, and other topics while talking about school, science, college, and life.
For populations for whom online interactions are more challenging—such as the Native American populations we partner with—we are packing up and shipping hundreds of Science at Home kits filled with magnets, lenses, LEDs and other materials that students can use to perform dozens of investigations at home. Each kit also contains a card featuring one of our undergraduate interns—so that the people receiving the kits know that there is a person on the other end who packed the materials and can provide guidance and support. Finally, we are doing another installment of the Art of Science contest, in which students submit art projects that illustrate science concepts, and LSOP staff and interns judge, give feedback, and award prizes.
Despite the challenges, we are all still connected.