Math and physics fun planned for FSU open houses

| Mon, 03/20/23

The fun and wonder of math and physics will take center stage at two free open houses this week at Florida State University.

The FSU Physics Department’s “Circus of Physics” and the FSU Mathematics Department’s “Math Fun Day” are planned for March 25 on the FSU campus.

Taking its inspiration from the physical laws that enable high-flying trapeze artists and tightrope walkers to perform, Circus of Physics highlights the marvels of this science.

“It’s amazing to see how much kids enjoy these demonstrations,” said Fernando Febres Cordero, an associate professor in the Department of Physics who is helping organize the event. “They ask all kinds of questions, and sometimes the most difficult questions come from the youngest kids.”

The event includes free planetarium shows, presentations on a variety of physics topics, and interactive experiments where attendees can play and learn — including a paper airplane contest. An attendee favorite is the Wimshurst machine, which collects a static electric charge that can be used to make objects appear to fly.

Attendees will also be able to take tours of some FSU physics facilities, including the John D. Fox Superconducting Linear Accelerator Laboratory, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute and laboratories that are home to condensed matter experimental physics.

Circus of Physics will take place:

10 A.M. – 4 P.M.

At the Love Building, which is about a three-minute walk from the Richards Building, Math Fun Day returns after a two-year hiatus. The event features interactive activities and demonstrations illustrating the many creative ways people use math.

“Mathematics has a lot of very beautiful aspects with it, especially with regards to geometry, computation and its applications,” said Monica Hurdal, professor in the Department of Mathematics and one of the event organizers. “That’s what we’re hoping to showcase in some of the activities that we have at Math Fun Day.”

The event will feature various exhibits, each with a different theme. Attendees will be able to create their own fractals, the repeating patterns that occur in the natural world, and learn how to hide secret messages within ciphers. Another exhibit focuses on games and how math can help players devise winning strategies.

Florida State students are also part of the fun. The FSU Student Undergraduate Mathematics Society will present an exhibit showing the myriad places where math appears in nature, and the FSU Student Chapter of the Association of Women in Mathematics will teach attendees about famous female mathematicians throughout history.

“Come see what mathematics is all about,” Hurdal said. “There are lots of fun, hands-on activities you can do that are much more engaging than just the arithmetic kids learn in school.”

Math Fun Day will take place:

1 – 5 P.M.