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Community Physics Festival

Enjoy hands-on science at the Community Physics Festival, a free public event for all ages where you can:
Volunteers and children make liquid nitrogen ice cream
  • Take a tour of working physics labs 
  • Watch electromagnets crush cans
  • Experience a WVU Planetarium show in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing
  • Find out what happens when galaxies collide
  • Make (and eat) liquid nitrogen ice cream
The festival is sponsored by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the  Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology  and the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Organization (PAGSO). 

There will be activities and physics demos running all day long, as well as short popular science talks by WVU students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty. Below is the full program of events. Some times are subject to change.

Demos and Children's Activities

Physics demos, including an electromagnetic can crusher and liquid nitrogen ice cream, as well as crafts and activities, such as designing a planet flag, will be available all day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, we have a table at MedExpress Kids' Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., near the top of High Street.

Planetarium Shows and the Moon Landing Anniversary

Planetarium dome show
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of humankind's first steps on the Moon with three full-dome planetarium shows and a featured presentation by Hilda Heady, whose aunt Bonnie Holmes was the main assistant to key NASA rocket developer Wernher von Braun.

11 a.m.: Children's show: Larry Cat in Space (trailer)
12 noon: Accidental Astronauts (trailer)
1:15 p.m.: Bonnie G. Holmes: The Superglue of Apollo – Hilda Heady
2 p.m.: Earth, Moon and Sun (trailer)

The planetarium will also host two evening shows on July 20, one a documentary and the other a full-dome show:
7 p.m.: Outlier: The Story of Katherine Johnson (trailer)
8 p.m.: Dawn of the Space Age (trailer)

Tours of Labs and Telescopes

Tours of optics, plasma physics and biophysics will run from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m., roughly every 30 minutes. Since space is limited, registration will be at the welcome table on the ground floor of White Hall. Weather permitting, we will also have the rooftop observatory open with a solar filter for safe viewing of the sun from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  

Pop-Science Talks

Physics graduate students prepare an experiment
Enjoy short talks and Q&A with physics and astronomy experts. 

11:15 a.m. – The Sun by Adam Kobelski
11:45 a.m. – Quantum Computing by Ned Flagg
12:15 p.m. – Building a Galaxy-Sized Gravitational Wave Detector by Nihan Pol
12:45 p.m. – Making a New Earth by Nicholas Luber
1:15 p.m. – Bonnie G. Holmes: The Superglue of Apollo by Hilda Heady
2:15 p.m. – Radio Astronomy by Mayuresh Surnis
2:45 p.m. – How Big Is the Universe? (In Football Fields) by Brent Shapiro-Albert
3:15 p.m. – Fusion: Taming the Stars by David Caron