25 Years, Half a Million Kids!

The Little Shop of Physics has been on the road visiting schools for the past 25 years. From a modest start with a few boxes of experiments in the back of Director Brian Jones’ VW van, the program has grown to a well respected and well traveled program that today reached a very significant milestone—the Little Shop team has now presented hands-on science programs to 500,000 students. The past decade has been one of tremendous growth for the Little Shop, thanks to support provided by CMMAP, an NSF-funded Science and Technology Center in the Department of Atmospheric Science. It was just six years ago that the program was celebrating reaching 250,000 students.

 The Little Shop team celebrated this milestone at Truscott Elementary School, a school that the Little Shop has been visiting since the early days. This was the last stop on the “Get Your Science On!” 2015-2016 tour, and a big team of undergraduate interns was on hand, including several who are graduating this year, celebrating their own milestone, led by Adam Pearlstein, Heather Michalak, and Sheila Ferguson, long time members of the Little Shop team.

As the last class of the day filed in, Sheila counted until she reached the magic number of 500,000 when she got to Haider Asfar. After a brief flurry of rocket balloons to celebrate, the main event started—letting the kids get their hands on the 100+ experiment stations Little Shop had brought. At the end of the session, Haider got a special prize, all the kids present got bags of science goodies, and the class got a giant parachute to use to learn about air, forces, and other science principles.

The Little Shop has reached a milestone, but won’t be slowing down any time soon. Next week, the Little Shop experiment stations will be used by over 1,500 CSU undergraduate students in the Physics teaching labs, and, the following week, over 500 K-12 students from area schools will visit. After a summer of hosting groups, brainstorming ideas, and finding a new group of undergraduate interns, the Little Shop will hit the ground running in the fall, kicking off the 2016-2017 tour with the support of the College of Natural Sciences.