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College of Arts and Sciences


Hands-On Science Rooms

The Indiana University Physics & Astronomy Open House features a wide variety of activity rooms showcasing science in action. Inquisitive attendees can explore a wide range of topics through many exciting hands-on demos. Below you'll find descriptions of just a small number of the many activities featured in each of our science rooms.


Discover the marvelous properties of sound in this room. Learn all about how oscillatory motion becomes sound and music. Play with standing waves on strings and a Chladni plate. See the waveform of your voice on a computer. Make your own piper and talking chickens!


Take a tour of the amazing planets, stars and galaxies that fill the universe. Learn first-hand what comets are made of by building one of your own! Look beyond what the human eye can see through the infrared camera! Take a crack at some astro-trivia on the prize wheel!


Learn how fundamental physics underlies the complex systems of biology! Use optical illusions to eplore the surprising ways in which your brain interprets the world around you! Discover the amazing ways in which life has adapted to exploit physics in order to self-organize and to gather and utilize energy!

Contest Room

Use your brainpower to win great prizes! Pit your skills against others by solving electronic puzzles, performing experiments with gravity, and testing your skill at the famous table cloth pull. Great fun will be had by all!

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences will be present with seismometers to make and record your own earthquake, a fossil dig, geode smashing, drive-your-own Mars rover, and their own volcano, predicted to erupt at 1pm. ‘Dr. Rock’ will also be on hand to identify any rock or mineral sample you are curious about, so be sure to bring them along!

Electricity & Magnetism

Explore the powerful forces of electricity and magnetism in this demo room. Our Tesla coil, Van de Graff Generator, and Jacob's ladder are just a few of the shockingly exciting toys-for-physicsts you'll find.


Discover the wonders of circuitry! Make haunting electronic music with the theremin. Convert radio signals to sounds and hear how your cell phone communicates with the cellular network. Learn how the fundamental elements of circuits combine to create the marvelous gadgets all around you!


Learn all about how energy is converted from one form to another. Burn some calories on a bicycle to power a generator! Discover how much energy is stored in gasoline, coal, water and many other common substances! See alternative energy sources like solar and hydrogen power in action!

Light & Color

Ever gazed in awe at a rainbow in the sky or wondered at the marvelous effects of a prism? Through holograms, mirrors, lasers and fiber optics you'll discover the astonishing properties of light!

Low Temperature Physics

Discover what happens to everyday, ordinary matter when it's chilled to ultra-cold temperatures! From frozen bananas to magnet-levitating superconductors, come witness the fun and fantastic properties and effects of liquid nitrogen at our cryogenic demo show! (Runs approximately every half-hour.)


Mathematics events will include a game and puzzles to challenge and amuse your brain. Play dots and boxes and learn tricks from those who've studied the theory behind the game. Unscramble pictures, cross ancient bridges, play peg solitaires, distort your image with a conformal mapping, or cut a largest possible hole from a piece of paper for a prize.


Gyrosocopes! Pendulums! Springs! The field of mechanics is rich with fun and engaging ways to explore linear and rotational motion. Be awed by the astonishing and counter-intuitive properties of ordinary objects when they're moving, rotating, and oscillating!

Modern Physics

Learn all about cosmic rays, the speed of light, radioactivity and the frontiers of particle physics through a number of fascinating demos. See cosmic rays plow through our cloud chamber before your eyes! Speak with physicists pushing the limits of our understanding of the universe at the Tevatron and the Large Hadron Collider!

Outdoor Physics

Come play outside in the beautiful fall weather where we've located the extremely hands-on demos which are too big to stay indoors! Learn about friction on the dry-ice bowling lane! Experience centrifugal force first-hand from inside the rotating reference frame of our merry-go-round!

Kirkwood Observatory Tour

Take a tour of the historic Kirkwood Observatory! Look at the Sun (safely!) with the Kirkwood Solar Telescope. See the 12 inch refracting telescope, which has been in use since 1901.