PALS Workshop

November 5, 2015

A workshop from the Little Shop of Physics


Sheila Ferguson
Brian Jones
Heather Michalak
Adam Pearlstein

Part I

Exploring the Little Shop of Physics

The Little Shop of Physics is a traveling hands-on science education program at Colorado State University that presents school programs and teacher workshops in Colorado and neighboring states. The Little Shop of Physics makes science accessible to all students by building hands-on experiment stations out of everyday objects that actively engage students in learning scientific concepts.

The Little Shop of Physics empowers individuals to see the world, and themselves, in a different light through hands-on science. The program teaches people that science is something anyone can do, and accomplishes this by: allowing youth to act as scientists – to freely explore, engage, and discover; finding creative ways to share the wonder of science; presenting a unique hands-on science program to a diverse range of students; involving undergraduates in significant and meaningful service; sharing ideas and insights with current and future teachers.

At the core of what we do is the hands-on experiments that form the heart of our traveling collection. For the first hour of our workshop, you'll have the chance to explore and experiment with all 100+ stations we've set up.

You can learn more about our experiment stations on our YouTube channel, where we describe how we build and use the different stations.

Part II

Hands-on workshops

You'll work with two different workshops, in turn:

Topic #1: Microscopic Models, Macroscopic Consequences

We’ll do some exercises to illustrate how you can use models of atomic / molecular behavior to explain macroscopic effects. This simplifies explanations, leads to better understanding, and helps unify different topics. We’ll show how this works for laws dealing with gases, for phase transitions, for magnetism, for understanding the physics of the nucleus, and a few other topics.

Kinesthetic Activities
Molecules in a Box
Vapor Pressure

Kinesthetic model
Making and breaking magnets

Nuclear Physics
Radioactive decay

Greenhouse effect
What makes a gas a greenhouse gas?

Be the Circuit
Energy Balls

Topic #2: States of Matter

We all know about solid, liquid and gas, and we’ll do a bunch of activities that illustrate the properties of these different phases. We’ll also consider the energy changes that accompany these phases. Finally, we’ll consider other types of phases—many materials have multiple solid forms, for instance.

Properties of Solids
Building blocks
Seeing structure (microscopes & crystal model)

Properties of Liquids
Square bubbles

Properties of Gases
Giant beach ball
Air bags

Solid to Liquid
Gallium spoons

Liquid to Solid
Hand warmers

Liquid to Gas
Keeping your cool

Solid Phases
Nitinol wire

For more information, visit us online at