Society of physics students defies gravity by raising the bar ever higher

hool days, memories of standardized tests and recess may swarm your mind.

The Guilford College chapter of the Society of Physics Students, however, is helping create memories that go above and beyond at Jefferson Elementary School.

For over two years, Guilford’s physics students have volunteered at an after-school science enrichment program at Jefferson Elementary.

The chapter has been recognized for its efforts in the study of physics. Guilford’s SPS has been selected as an Outstanding Chapter of the Society of Physics Students, an honor given to less than 10 percent of SPS chapters.

“Personally, I was part of our program to introduce the students to computer programming,” said senior Henry Corbett in an email interview. “Other students from the SPS have taken physics demonstrations and activities (to Jefferson), ranging from electronics to making simple telescopes.”

Introducing these students to equipment not already available at Jefferson increases their involvement in experimentation. SPS hopes to get children more excited about science.

“I think that kids are born as experimenters and explorers,” said Professor of Physics and Guilford SPS Advisor Steve Shapiro. “If there are opportunities for them to explore scientific ideas rather than just read about it, I think their interest in science will greatly increase.”

Alongside Shapiro and Corbett are student officers: senior Nolan Dwyer, senior Emma Taylor and junior Justin Ouellette.

One Jefferson student’s mother, who requested to remain anonymous, has witnessed the effect of SPS’s dedication firsthand.

“I’ve never seen my son this enthusiastic about an academic field before,” said the mother. “It was always just video games and football until Guilford College came in with their demonstrations.”

Some members of SPS volunteer as judges in the Jefferson Elementary and Guilford County school science fairs. While this year’s science fairs have come and gone, her son looks forward to next year’s fairs.

“I can’t wait to show them how much I learned,” he said.

SPS also hosts a yearly open house for Jefferson students at Guilford’s observatory.

“The first year we did it, we had an overflow crowd,” said Shapiro. “It was really quite impressive.”

Although Corbett is honored to receive the award, he maintains that SPS is about more than just awards.

“It’s always nice to be recognized for what we do, but it’s not really why we do it,” said Corbett. “These are the kind of experiences that I wish I would have had at that age, that I feel would have been informative for me, and I am glad we get to help create them for others.”

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