Are You Ready to SOCK?

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Interactions - SPS Chapters in Action

Are You Ready to SOCK?

Request your 2015 SPS Science Outreach Catalyst Kit Today


Hannah E. Pell, SPS SOCK Intern 2015, Class of 2016 at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA and Shauna LeFebvre, 2015 SPS SOCK/NIST Summer Institute Intern, Class of 2016 at Union College in Schenectady, NY

Hannah Pell (left) and Shauna LeFebvre shopping for supplies to fill the SOCKs! Photo by Courtney Lemon.

During our summer internship with the Society of Physics Students, we came into work one day and found a huge stack of thank-you letters. Third graders at the Tuckahoe Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia, had written to us after we ran a series of physics activities at their school. Reading through the letters was a highlight of our summer. It showed us the impact of the activity kit we developed and tested at the school—the 2015 Science Outreach Catalyst Kit (SOCK).

“Today I learned about physics and that it’s science, math, and music… Now I really like physics!” one student noted. “And PS. You guys are super kewl!!!”

The SOCK, an annual product of SPS, is created over the course of a summer each year by two SOCK interns. It is quite literally a giant sock filled with materials used to conduct physics activities for science outreach events.

This year we created a kit focused on acoustics. Both of us have musical backgrounds, so we jumped at the opportunity to intertwine the arts with the sciences. We feel that acoustics is not emphasized enough in introductory physics courses, even though it is a highly versatile field of study.

The 2015 SOCK explores the characteristics and behavior of sound waves, from the acoustical properties of various types of instruments (strings, woodwinds, percussion) to the amplification of sound and communication over long distances. Some activities allow students to build their own instruments and even include music, so they can learn to play tunes!

Being in the business of science outreach, we tested our SOCK at several events over the summer. In addition to the third graders, honors-level physics classes at Yorktown High School in Virginia tried out some of the activities. So did middle school teachers from across the country at the National Institute of Standards and Technology Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers, our partner on the SOCK.

Working with different audiences at these and other events allowed us to refine the SOCK. The material is appropriate, easy to understand, and, most importantly, fun!

SOCKs are given away at no cost to approximately 25 SPS chapters each year. Your chapter can apply for a 2015 SOCK here. If your SPS chapter is not one of the lucky 25, don’t worry. All supplementary components—the manual, worksheets, and list of necessary materials—are available on the SPS website. You can assemble your very own! //


Request a free 2015–16 SOCK and browse SOCKs from previous years here. Read the blogs Hannah and Shauna kept about their experiences at here.


SPS has internship positions each summer in outreach, education, policy, and research. See details here. Applications are due February 1.

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Interactions - SPS Chapters in Action