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Physics Club with air cannon

by George Zamora

Right: Members of the New Mexico Tech Physics Club, with their giant air cannon.

SOCORRO, N.M., Jan. 31, 2007 – The New Mexico Tech Physics Club recently was selected as an Outstanding Society for Physics Students (SPS) Chapter for the 2005-2006 academic year, becoming one of a select group of regional SPS university chapters chosen by the national organization to receive the prestigious designation.

The selection was based on the depth and breadth of SPS Chapter activities conducted by the Tech Physics Club in areas such as physics research, public science outreach, physics tutoring programs, hosting of and representation at physics meetings, and providing social interaction for chapter members, the award letter stated.

At a recent club meeting, several members of the New Mexico Tech Physics Club opined that they believe the Outstanding Chapter award was based largely on the club's ongoing series of physics demonstrations to Socorro area school children and the general public, particularly the club’s trébuchét and giant air cannon exhibits, whose design and construction was done entirely by club members.

“In addition, the Tech Physics Club's other past outreach activities have included trips to and participation in the 60th anniversary of Trinity Site and Explora! Adult Night in Albuquerque, as well as the annual paper airplane contest, which we host each April on campus,” said Will Walden-Newman, past president of the club.

Other “fun events and activities” the Tech Physics Club staged in the recent past included entering the giant air cannon as a float in the 49ers Parade (garnering a second-place trophy overall), hosting a barbecue on the Tech Athletic Field, making ice cream with liquid nitrogen, launching Halloween pumpkins with the trébuchét, and designing and building a giant sling shot.

“We seem to have continued building our club projects on a common theme of medieval siege instruments,” Walden-Newman related somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

-NMT-