Rolling Cans for a Great Cause

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SPS Chapters on Outreach

Rolling Cans for a Great Cause


Garath Vetters, Andrew Tom, Emily Maxey, Calvin Nash, and William Hennig, SPS Chapter Officers, Angelo State University 

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The fall 2022 semester’s can roll food drive went well! Photo courtesy of Garath Vetters.

Can drives that collect food for those in need are a staple of student organizations across the country. However, our SPS chapter at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, mixes things up a bit.

Near the end of every semester, we set up a fancy binder and plywood ramp in one of the hallways of the Vincent Nursing and Physical Science Building, where our physics department is located. The premise is simple: Bring at least five cans to donate, roll one down the ramp, and calculate the kinematics of the can in two dimensions to get extra credit. This opportunity for students in intro-level physics allows them to see classroom concepts in action while doing some good for the community. After a week or two of collecting cans, our SPS chapter gathers them up, loads them into a shopping cart, and wheels them over to our University Center to donate them.


The Angelo State University SPS chapter collects lots of cans every semester. Photo courtesy of Trey Holik.

This event may seem small in comparison to other events our SPS chapter hosts during the semester, but that doesn’t take away from its significance. Giving students the opportunity to put their physics skills to the test while engaging in a bit of friendly, can-racing rivalry is a great way to build community in our department. Moreover, it’s a way for us to regularly give back to the greater community. During the 2021–22 academic year we collected more than a thousand cans. 

Extra credit may be the main reason many students participate, but it’s still encouraging to see so many cans surrounding the table where students document their donations. And it’s meaningful to drop them off at the Concho Valley Food Bank and the food pantry located in our University Center. The can roll gives our SPS members an opportunity to work together and accomplish something great.

Hunger Can Be Closer Than You Think!

SPS provides $300 in financial support for chapters to start food cabinets for hungry physics and astronomy students. Chapters are to use funds for items that are freely accessible to all department undergraduates and are encouraged to fundraise to restock and maintain the food cabinet beyond the seed funding. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. For details, see

Who Will You Recognize for Outstanding Service to SPS?

SPS Outstanding Service Awards acknowledge outstanding chapter leaders—students, faculty, and staff—who further the mission of SPS and aim to support the health of the organization and the broader community through service. Chapter members can nominate candidates at any time. For details, see


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