Lectures, Tours, & Demonstrations
The Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah is committed to public outreach. Over the years, our presence in the community, as well as opportunities for community involvement has increased significantly. Below are descriptions of the many outreach programs our department coordinates. Check back regularly, as we are in the process of setting up web pages for all of our programs and will soon have them all listed here.
Read through our program descriptions below, and if you are unsure which program best suits your needs, contact us at the email address below, with a description of what you are looking for in community engagement:
Supporting Our Efforts
The icons denote the audience that the particular program is/can be geared towards.
|College||Scouts||21 or Over Only||General Audiences
of All Ages
Check out our Calendar of Events
Coming soon! Resources for Educators
ACCESS | After School Science for Refugee Communities | ASPIRE | AstronomUrs | Frontiers of Science | Lecture Demonstration Presentations | MESA Recruiting Partnership | Phun with Physics | Scanning Electron Microscope | Science Day | Science Night Live | Society of Physics Students (SPS) | Star Parties | Utah Students for the Exploration & Development of Space (U-SEDS) | Women in Physics & Astronomy (WomPA) |
The ACCESS Program offers approximately 40 women each year some extraordinary opportunities and experiences in science and mathematics at the University of Utah.
A typical ACCESS recipient spends the summer of her freshman year with some of the brightest women entering the University of Utah. Through a specially designed course, taught by some of the university's most enthusiastic and celebrated professors, the student is introduced to hands-on experiences with real-world problems through instruction, laboratory work and team work on assigned projects. The class is designed to give participants not only valuable laboratory experience, but also a taste of each of the major sciences.
The Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CSME), the Sudanese Community in Utah (SCUT), the Refugee Services Office (RSO), the Bhutanese Community in Utah (BCU), Horizonte Instruction and Training Center, and Calvary Baptist Church have entered into a partnership to develop the After School Science for Refugee Communities that provides a family approach with science and math enrichment programs. This program also provides academic tutoring, home visits to the families, and social services to those in need.
ASPIRE (Astrophysics Science Project Integrating Research and Education) provides interactive, hands-on lessons and labs for use in classroom by teachers and their students. Additionally, ASPIRE provides in-classroom support, demos and instruction in K-12 settings in Utah and the Intermountain West. We provide hands-on demonstrations and activities for student groups, public events and for clubs both in and out of school settings. ASPIRE is the outreach program for Telescope Array which is funded by the National Science Foundation. Contact
to find out more information.
The AstronomUrs Outreach Group offers both public and private star parties, solar parties, presentations and demos for a wide audience ranging from k-12 schools, scouts, families and community members of all ages. Is there a community event in which you would like the AstronomUrs to participate? Let us know and we will be glad to come! We can bring some demos or telescopes to help. We can set up a booth at your science day activity or your city festival.
The Frontiers of Science lecture series brings eminent scientists from around the world to the University of Utah and the Salt Lake City community. Frontiers of Science events start at 6:00 p.m. in the Aline W. Skaggs Biology Building, just west of the University Bookstore. Free and open to the public! Tickets are not required for this event. Seating will be available on a first come, first served basis. Please arrive early.
The Lecture Demonstration Facility exists to aid in the teaching of physics and astronomy to undergraduate and graduate students in the field of physics and astronomy, as well as non-majors taking physics and astronomy here on campus. When this wonderful resource of demonstration equipment is not being used for university courses, there is potential for it to be shared with others. Adam Beehler has offered many a lecture presentation where he uses the demonstration equipment to give folks a glimpse into how physics and astronomy can help us understand the world around us in new ways. These presentations will reveal how science can open our eyes to the beauty and excitement of the natural world.
The department is partnered with the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement program (MESA). The purpose of MESA is to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups within our community who pursue study in mathematics, engineering, and science areas. The University is dedicated to the scientific education of such students, while they are in junior high and high school, and demonstrating to them that physics is fun, interesting, and leads to careers where work is engaging, secure, and well compensated. To accomplish this we host annual MESA days where MESA clubs and other organizations are invited to spend a day visiting the department. Students are divided into groups and rotate through break-out sessions including: activities, presentations, lecture demonstrations, campus tours, discussion circles and tips for getting admitted to the U and how to get funding for college.
Live physics demos like you have never seen before! What do balloons, bicycle wheels, liquid nitrogen, flowers and a vacuum pump have in common? Ask our Phun with Physics scientists, Patrick Wiggins, Tori Spratling, and Jayceen Craven. Their energetic and interactive live physics demonstration will reveal science at work to both kids and adults. Held at the Museum of Natural History every free museum day!
Our department operates a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) which allows scientists to see the tiniest particles, so small that they contain only a few hundred atoms, so-called “nano-particles”. A 1-hour presentation is available to schools with the intent of using the SEM as a tool to interest students in STEM careers. Interested students are then invited to use the SEM to look at samples of interest to them. At the right are samples of hair submitted by students from Lyman WY.
Middle School Presentation (PDF) (PPTX)
High school students (grades 10-12) from around the Intermountain West are invited to attend a day of science-related workshops. These interactive workshops give high school students a great look at laboratory research and career opportunities in science, math and engineering.
Science Night Live public lectures offer a casual social and educational event in downtown Salt Lake. All events are held at Keys on Main (242 South Main Street), beginning with a social at 5:30 and a lecture at 6:00 p.m. Free and open to the public! Must be 21 years of age or older. Right across the street from the Gallivan TRAX station.
The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is focused on the advancement and diffusion of knowledge of physics, the encouragement of interest in physics throughout the academic and local communities, and the introduction of students to the professional community. The Society of Physics Students offers lab tours a few times a month to interested parties.
The department also offers free public star parties every clear Wednesday night on the roof of the South Physics Building at the University of Utah. In the summer, the observatory will also hold Solar Parties usually on Wednesdays preceding a public star party. Tours of the observatory and star parties for scout groups and other public groups on weekdays and Saturdays can also be arraigned. NEW: The observatory now has telescopes available for traveling to off-campus locations for star parties. All tours and star parties are subject to weather and availability. Questions can be directed to
Utah Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (U-SEDS) is an organization dedicated to educating the public about the incredible benefits of having a space program. Using the educational computer game, KerbalEdu, U-SEDS goes on the road to visit schools all around the Rocky Mountain region. Our curriculum ranges from classical physics to the history of space flight. Our goal is that each students leaves our program with a newly formed appreciation for the accomplishments of NASA and other space programs all around the globe. Interested in hosting our program? Feel free to contact us through the outreach email. All we ask is that the school provides us a computer lab and a class of students eager to learn about space flight and rocket science, we will provide the instructors and software.
WomPA events provide opportunities for informal mentoring and sharing of resources, and also serve as forums for exchange of information and advice. We increase the visibility of women by highlighting important scientific contributions of local scientists, and by participating in community outreach events, targeted at encouraging young women in STEM fields.