Zone 17 Spring Meeting

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SPS Zone Meeting

April 14, 2017 to April 15, 2017

Ellensburg, WA

Meeting host:

Society of Physics Students


Deanna Marshall

SPS Chapter:

The SPS 2017 Zone 17 meeting was hosted at Central Washington University on April 15th, 2017. The event had 52 attendees, including 8 from University of Washington, 5 from Washington State University, 4 from University of Oregon, 5 from Oregon State University, 2 from University of Washington Bothell, 9 from Green River Community College, 2 from University of Alaska, 2 from Everett Community College, 2 from Peninsula College, and 14 from Central Washington University. University of Washington and Oregon State University stayed in the dorms that we provided for lodging, as most others stayed in hotels. Several months of planning led to a great meeting that received many compliments.

The event started on Friday evening, April 14th, with a pizza and demo social. Most of the meeting attendees came to the party. We ate pizza and showed some of Central’s own physics demos. The demos included the coriolis force demo and the hovercraft, which were the most popular. We also showed our Van der Graaf generator and vortex cannon.

The full meeting commenced on Saturday morning, starting with “Breakfast with the Scientists” (an idea we got from PhysCon!). A breakfast of muffins, fruit, and coffee was served, and some of Central’s physics professors joined for conversation. They discussed their physics research, as well as information about Central’s physics department. After breakfast, physics professor Dr. Tony Smith hosted a trivia game, with questions he wrote himself. There were two categories, “Light” and “Star Wars”. We also purposely mixed up the teams so that each team had people from different schools. Prizes were given for first, second, and third places. After the game, we took a group photo and then transitioned to our planetarium for research presentations. Our first presenters were Central Physics professors, Dr. Erin Craig and Dr. Darci Snowden. Dr. Craig presented first with her biophysics research, focusing on cell interaction. Immediately afterwards, Dr. Snowden gave a presentation about Saturn’s moon, Titan, which she studied as a member of the Cassini mission. After the presentations, the meeting broke for lunch and a poster session, where some of the meeting participants presented their research posters.

After lunch, we started with our next speaker, Mr. Rick Brice. Mr. Brice is a civil engineer who presented on the Engineering career field and Physics in the industry. He is also the father of one of Central’s physics students. After this came the building tour. Central’s Physics department just moved into a brand new building this year, with new labs and features. We split everyone into three groups and showed them the new features of the building. Areas include the electronics labs, the low-temperature lab, the anechoic chamber, and the observatory. Some of Central’s physics students showed some of their research as well. The building received lots of compliments, and many were impressed by how much our department has improved. The building tour ended on the roof, with all groups gathered for chapter reports. Each chapter gave their report and expressed new ideas for their clubs. AZC candidates Riley from University of Alaska and Eli from University of Oregon also gave their speeches for the AZC election. After chapter reports on the roof, everyone headed back downstairs for a short break with snacks. We then went back to the planetarium for our last speaker, Dr. Greg Ogin. Dr. Ogin is a professor from Whitman University and a LIGO scientist. He presented on LIGO’s discovery of gravitational waves and all of the tools and procedures used in the detection. The meeting ended with a speaker panel of former physics students who answered questions about life after the physics degree. The panel include Andrew Kerr, who is a graduate student at Digipen, Austen Stone, who currently works at a medical facility, Addison Wenger, Central’s Physics lab technician, and Physics professor Dr. Tony Smith. They discussed their lives after graduating college and their current jobs. They also talked about how SPS has impacted their Physics and career decisions.

Overall, the meeting was a great success. There were plenty of activities and lots of compliments were received. Though the whole event ran slightly longer than expected, everyone appeared to enjoy it. Hosting the Zone meeting was a great experience, and it really inspired others to take part in SPS events, as well as potentially join SPS national. It was an honor to host the meeting this year, and we look forward to attending another great meeting next year. 

Zone 17 Spring Meeting Group Photo

Enjoying sunshine and a view atop the Science II Building

Zone 17 Spring Mixer