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Juniata Physics Students Illuminate Science at Physics Phun Night

(Posted April 7, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- College professors and administrators are rarely asked to suffer for their dedication to teaching, but a Juniata communications professor and an administrator will test their mettle by lying on a bed of nails on the stage of Alumni Hall in the Brumbaugh Science Center to entertainingly demonstrate physics principles during Physics Phun Night at 7 p.m. April 10.

Physics Phun Night, sponsored by the Society of Physics Students (SPS) and the physics department, is free and open to the public. Glow sticks and glow necklaces will be on sale for $2 each.

James Borgardt, assistant professor of physics and sponsor of the SPS club, says Lynn Cockett, assistant professor of communication, will lie on a bed of nails to demonstrate how force is distributed over a wide area. To add to the excitement, and perhaps to Cockett's pain, another faculty member will use a sledgehammer to break a cinder block positioned on the professor's torso. Kris Clarkson, dean of students, will then place himself in a bed of nails "sandwich", with nails on top as well as nails underneath, and repeat the experiment to show the students what he's made of -- perhaps literally.

Other demonstrations will include breaking a wine glass using sound waves, burning bubbles, how to turn a skateboard into a rocket and a demonstration that allows the audience to "see" sound waves.

"Using props like the bed of nails makes teaching some fairly complex science memorable and fun," Borgardt says. "It's not every day you get to put someone on a bed of nails and perhaps even learn a little about physics during the evening."

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.