Sparks flew — literally — as sophomore Adina Ripin fed nails through a melting machine in front of fascinated onlookers last Saturday.
Ripin was one of several student scientists educating people through entertainment for the annual Spooky Science Day in Rettner Atrium.
The event — hosted by the Society of Physics Students and co-sponsored by twelve science-based student groups — consisted of tables set up with candy and Halloween-themed science models.
“We really want to get kids excited about science, and Halloween is an excellent opportunity to educate kids in a fun way,” said Ripin, outreach chair of the Society of Physics Students, invoking the image of the “stereotypical mad scientist” to illustrate the overlaps between the two.
This sentiment was shared by other student organizers, like sophomore Steven Spiewak, publicity chair for the Astronomy Club.
“Kids have a lot of preconceptions about gravity,” he said, “and we want to use this opportunity to show kids how Einsteinian gravity works in a fun way.”
Senior Marcelina Martynek, a member of the Brain and Cognitive Science and Neuroscience Undergraduate Council, agreed, saying that the venue provided an excellent opportunity to “teach kids about the brain with a spooky twist.”
Ripin organized the event by advertising for free on both RocParent and Kids Out and About Rochester, two local promotional websites, as well as by distributing fliers to dozens of elementary schools.
“A lot more people showed up this year than last year,” she explained, attributing this increase to the advertising efforts. “We really tried to increase our advertising efforts this year, so I’m glad it worked. The advertising was definitely the most difficult part, but we seemed to do a good job getting the word out, which was really exciting.”
Attendees expressed appreciation for the organizers’ efforts to promote science in a simple and child-friendly way.
“[The event offers] an interesting combination of non-cheesy Halloween stuff and science,” said Stephanie Belmont of Irondequoit, who attended the event with her two children.
She said she discovered the event on Kids Out and About, and that the event offered “an interesting combination of non-cheesy Halloween stuff and science.”
Another attendee, Webster resident Stephanie Barbaro, described the event as “super cute,” adding that she thought it was “very creative and different.”
“We always want to educate our kids” she said, “and they were already dressed up, so it was really nice to find an educational Halloween event.”
Others, like Matt Wallace of Pittsford, remarked on the inclusivity of the event. Wallace, who also discovered the event through Kids Out and About, applauded the balanced gender ratio, which he said was a positive experience for his daughter.
“My daughter is interested in science, so this was really a natural fit,” he said. “It has been really nice to see a real mix of men and women in science.”
Organizers were generally satisfied with turnout and the public reaction to their work, although some expressed a measure of relief when the crowd finally dispersed.
“The kids say they learned a lot,” said junior Yue Qi, outreach coordinator for the Biomedical Engineering Society.
Correction (10/31/17): Ripin is a sophomore; she was originally listed as a senior.