You’re invited to the Little Shop of Physics Leap Day Open House, Feb. 29

little shop of physics demonstrate coffee can experiment with children

“The Sound of Silence” is one of 40 new, interactive science experiments Open House participants can enjoy this year. 

On Leap Day, the Colorado State University Little Shop of Physics will host its 29th annual Open House, a free, fun-filled, family-oriented day of hands-on science experiments and interactive presentations. The Open House will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, at the CSU Lory Student Center.

The day will feature over 300 science stations and presentations hosted by the Little Shop of Physics, CSU’s high-energy traveling science outreach team in the College of Natural Sciences. This year at the Open House, Little Shop will present close to 40 new or reimagined experiments. These include:

Girl with animal ear headphones
“Going Batty” is one of the new interactive science activities at the Open House this year.
  • Going Batty, which consists of various headphones shaped like the ears of different animals. These animals are adapted to hear different sounds; bats hear high pitches for echolocation, whereas aye-aye lemurs hear low pitches as they tap on trees to listen for grubs. The shape of an animal’s outer ear is specially adapted, and you can hear this when you wear the headphones over your ears.
  • Straw Crossed uses clear lenticular plastic, which defocuses light along one axis. By rotating the plastic, you can make either horizontal blue straws or vertical red straws disappear.
  • Muscle Memory uses nitinol wire to model how muscles in the human body work in teams as opposing pairs. As the wire is heated with electricity, it contracts and causes a model skeleton to move. When heated, an opposing wire pulls in the opposite direction ­– analogous to an opposing muscle – and causes the skeleton to move back.
  • The Sound of Silence is made from coffee cans and many small straws. When you hold it up to your ear, certain sounds vanish. This is peculiar, and we don’t completely understand what is going on.

Community partners

This will be the 11th straight year that Little Shop of Physics Open House organizers are partnering with Oglala Lakota College and Generations Indigenous Ways, groups from Oglala Lakota Nation who have their own traveling science outreach program modeled after Little Shop of Physics.

The 29th Open House will also welcome new partners, including the CSU Department of Mathematics and the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, as well as volunteers from Key Communities and Tau Beta Pi. New interactive presentations will include Discover Your Inner Scientist, as well as Jaermuseet Science Circus, designed and presented by visiting educators from Norway.

Beyond its popular public appeal, the Open House serves as a gathering for Little Shop of Physics alumni. Former interns, volunteers and staff will come from as far as Florida to take part in the day. An alumni reunion party will follow, in celebration of the last three decades of Open House fun.

map of Little Shop of Physics open house exhibits
Map of open house activities

Science Garage Sale benefits orphanage project

The open house event is free, but the public is invited to purchase items at the Science Garage Sale to raise money for Robert Serunjogi’s orphanage and school in Uganda.

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