Science Sparks an Interest Northern Illinois University Reaches out to Students with Physics Program

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Byline: Naomi Dillon Daily Herald Staff Writer

Not all scientists are eccentric men with thick glasses and white lab coats.

And not all science is boring, far-flung concepts that can only be interpreted or interesting to eccentric men with thick glasses and white lab coats.

It's just one of many stereotypes Northern Illinois University is hoping to smash through Frontier Physics - an outreach program designed to get primary and secondary students excited about the possibilities of science.

The program recently made a local appearance, stopping at Da Vinci Academy in Elgin Sept. 27.

"I think their favorite was the trick with the table cloth," said program coordinator Patricia Sievert, who along with an assistant, performed a series of demonstrations. Her repertoire included an old magician's trick of whisking a tablecloth out from underneath a fully set table.

"They were sure we were going to break all the dishes," said Sievert, a former high school physics teacher.

Besides being highly entertaining, the demonstration illustrated the concept of inertia - the tendency to remain in a fixed position.

In another experiment, Sievert created a dust explosion with flour to show how substances can be made more flammable by increasing their surface areas. …