For 30 years University of Colorado at Boulder professors have introduced Colorado children to the exciting world of science as CU Wizards by imploding 55-gallon drums, popping balloons with lasers and cooking eggs without heat.
On Saturday, May 19, CU-Boulder will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the program following the scheduled CU Wizards show "Waves That Changed the World" at 9:30 a.m. in Duane Physics room G1B30.
Over the years dozens of CU-Boulder professors, including Nobel laureates and MacArthur "genius grant" winners, have added the weekend role of a CU Wizard to their day jobs.
"The response from the Boulder and Denver community has been so warm, it's hard not to get excited by the prospect of teaching 200 to 300 kids in an auditorium," said David Nesbitt, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and director of the CU Wizards program. "The parents and kids are extremely enthusiastic in support of the program, and I get letters all the time from people encouraging me to keep it going."
Former CU-Boulder physics Professor Jim Scott and physics Professor Emeritus John Taylor, or "Mr. Wizard," are credited with starting the program. Nesbitt then took the reins and has been running the program for the past 13 years. He currently is tapping contributions from an expanded cast of faculty in the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, physics, biology, astrophysics and engineering.
Taylor was involved in the program for more than 20 years before his retirement and was perhaps best known as a wizard for lying on a bed of nails and walking across hot coals in the name of science. Wizards also are credited with creating the concoction known as "elephant snot," an oozing, foaming mess created by combining common household fluids.
The free, public celebration will be held on Duane Field, south of the Duane Physics building, and will include light refreshments and activities from CU-Boulder's Science Discovery program. CU-Boulder Chancellor G.P. "Bud" Peterson and Nesbitt will speak at the event, which also will feature a number of CU Wizards.
During the 9:30 a.m. CU Wizards show, CU-Boulder professors Zoya Popovic and Dana Anderson will explore how electromagnetic waves have changed communication. The audience will help the wizards safely explode some items in a microwave and pop balloons with lasers. They also will learn about the telegraph, radio, satellite TV, computer networks, cell phones, police radar and wireless technology.
CU Wizards programs are geared to students in grades five through nine but are entertaining for people of all ages. Shows are held on Saturday mornings throughout the school year and are free and open to the public.
While the shows take a huge effort from the professors, currently there are about 25 professors giving shows every other year or so, according to Nesbitt.
For more information about the CU Wizards program visit the Web site at www.colorado.edu/physics/Web/wizards/cuwizards.html.