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Society of Physics Students recognized for service to elementary school
After-school Science Club wins national award

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 20, 2007) -- The Ohio University chapter of the Society of Physics Students has received national recognition for its educational program to teach science fundamentals to elementary school students.

With funds from Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honor society, The National Society of Physics Students awarded the chapter with the $300 Marsh White Award for the SPS After-school science club at West Elementary in Athens.

Advised by Ohio University Professor Alexander Neiman, SPS volunteers engaged students through demonstrations and hands-on experiments. The program covered myriad topics such as electricity, magnetism, light, chemistry and temperature, with more than 20 students in the first and second grades participating.

"Our hope with the project was to get students excited and curious about science and to give them an opportunity to do something fun while still learning," SPS President David McCowan said. "Elementary school students are still impressionable and it's important to show them that science isn't just dusty textbooks and boring equations."

The chapter plans to repeat its program at West again this coming year to a new group of eager and excited students. Successful programs and demonstrations with be repeated, but the organization is planning new activities, some of which will be funded by the Marsh White Award.

The SPS chapter is also considering expanding the program to include a one or two-day outreach event at Athens Middle School. The program would mostly draw on materials provided by the National Society of Physics Students for temperature outreach in conjunction with the PBS television program "Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold" that will air later this year.

"Receiving this award allows us to purchase materials that are not available from the Department of Physics and Astronomy," said McCowan, who wrote the proposal for the award with members Rick Bond and Daniel Hoy. "We are quite excited because this money will help us purchase new equipment that will benefit the project greatly."

The Society of Physics Students is a national organization that is part of the American Institute of Physics. Throughout the United States, approximately 5,000 students are members at more than 700 schools. The Ohio University chapter is open to any students interested in physics - whether they are a major or not - and provides a forum for interaction with others sharing that interest.

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