Marsh White Grant Awarded to Sonoma State Society of Physics Students (SPS)


In California, it is often easy for elementary school teachers to forget the importance of science under the pressures of statewide-standardized examinations (such as STAR testing) which focus on mathematics and reading skills. The SPS chapter members of Sonoma State University (SSU) have become aware of the plight of science in the local elementary schools and believe it is important for elementary students to be exposed to the sciences. SPS members have therefore, developed a small lesson plan for a fourth grade class in the local area that involves an interactive, experiential presentation of electricity and magnetism.

This demonstration to the elementary students will show some of the many applications of science in our world such as how electric motors work and why green energy is important. SPS members will carry out this lesson by assisting the students in building simple electric motors, showing new and interesting demos of electricity and magnetism, and having materials for the students to take home with them to further their understanding at home. In addition to the simple electric motor and displays already made, the SPS of SSU will build a superconducting levitation demonstration. This would consist of a superconductor, liquid nitrogen and a magnetic track. It will be built in the hopes of showing the fourth grade students a fun and weird side of science.

To help carry out all of these tasks, SPS commissioned a small committee to create a proposal for the SPS national Marsh White Grants; an award given out to SPS chapters with some of the best ideas to take physics to the public education. SPS of SSU is proud to accept this award and will be taking the sciences to elementary students soon to help inspire a new generation of scientists. This award was first given in 1975, and is named in honor of one of the most influential founders of Sigma Pi Sigma, Dr. March W. White. Sixteen (16) outstanding projects are supported in 2013.