Welcome to the Homeschool Houston series! This is our fifth post on fun and educational things to do in and around the Greater Houston Area.
This winter, I found out from a fellow homeschooler about Saturday Morning Physics at Texas A&M University in College Station. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and available free of charge to Texas high school students, however, anyone can attend. There were seven sessions offered each Saturday morning from 9:30am - 12:00pm from January 18 until March 1.
Topics for the Spring 2014 Program were:
The morning began with the lecture (approximately one hour) followed by a half hour donut and soda break (that's one way to get them there!). After the break, there would typically be another hour of hands-on demonstrations given by other professors in the Physics Department. The quality of the lectures and demonstrations were excellent. We attended as a family, with our fourteen year-old and eleven year-old, and found all of the lectures to be challenging, but engaging. It isn't necessary to have a full grasp of all the concepts, or to have completed a certain level of math or science to derive value from the experience.
There were three science challenges posted on the SMP Facebook Page throughout the course of the program. Participants were welcome to submit answers. My oldest received a prize, along with another young student, for answering the most questions correctly.
What a great opportunity!
Unfortunately, the grant is not assured for 2015. If you're interested in Saturday Morning Physics, I recommend checking the web-site and Facebook Page sometime in early January for any announcements and details. The organizers, Dr. Ralf Rapp and Dr. Rainer Fries, did an incredible job of executing this program and they are to be commended for their dedication to the advancement of the study of physics.
Three weeks after the last class on March 1, we would attend the Physics and Engineering Festival, also at Texas A&M.
The festival ran from March 21 - March 22, and featured what seemed like hundreds of interactive displays in addition to world-class lectures delivered by astronauts and nobel laureates. We had the honor of hearing Nobel Prize winner Dudley Herschbach speak on an electrospray method developed by John Fenn.
We also attended the fabulous Science Circus, truly not to be missed, and appropriate for any age or level of understanding! Rhys Thomas "teaches Newtonian physics using a rare blend of science, comedy and circus arts." It was a great way to wrap up the festival.
We found the Physics and Astronomy Department at Texas A&M to be a great source of science education. In all of these cases, the programs were free. If you've been to any of these programs or know of more, please feel free to drop us a line in the comment section.
We'll see you there!