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Physics Bus over Tucson

The outreach team here at CHESS has been taking its show cross-country while the cold finally settles on the Northeast. As mentioned in a previous newsletter, our "Junk Genies" program has students transforming underutilized appliances into interactive physics treasure troves for public enjoyment. Last month, the finished exhibits left Ithaca aboard the Ithaca Physics Bus where they've traveled thousands of miles and have been enjoyed by hundreds of visitors.

young visitors to Physics Bus

The tour, beyond simply extending the reach of this particular exhibition, aims to demonstrate to other institutions an easily reproducible model for public engagement in science. Watch video:

As the Physics Bus headed south toward warmer weather, it soaked up the sun thanks to its new solar photovoltaic system. This installation, ensuring the success of the tour, allows the bus to stop anywhere, and with the flick of a switch open the doors to curious visitors. The installation was completed in the dark of night during the final days before departure thanks to the goodwill of CLASSE electrical engineer, Len Hirschman, who volunteered his time after-hours.

Len Hirshman

All the hard work paid off at the University of Florida where the exhibition captivated physics undergraduates, graduates, and faculty outside the University Auditorium on Xraise's first ever totally solar-powered gig. Particularly impressed with our use of materials was Richard Hennig of Hennig Materials Theory Lab.

Richard Hennig (w/Erik Herman)

Having landed in Tucson only a couple of weeks ago, the Xraise exhibits have already been enjoyed by students and faculty at University of Arizona, the public at the 4th Avenue Street Fair and Tucson Village Farm, and even local educators at the Tucson Area Physics Teachers monthly meeting.

Tucson Area Physics Teachers/Karie Meyers

The Ithaca-based bus will continue doing events through mid-February as it serves as the centerpiece of Tucson's campaign to launch a similar Physics Bus West. See:

On its way home to Ithaca, the Physics Bus will make a deliberate detour to Colorado, Ft. Collins for an appearance at the Little Shop of Physics Open House, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year. LSOP was indeed the inspiration behind our exhibition, many of our pieces are based directly on LSOP's, and LSOP continues to provide us new material for use in our exhibit-building program.

As Xraise takes a proactive role with this innovative model, it is exciting to see more locations reached, and more Physics Buses popping up around the U.S.

See also article about the Physics Bus featured in



Submitted by: Erik Herman, CHESS, Cornell University