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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Department of Physics
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Physics Van is fun!
Physics Van is fun!
Physics Van is fun!
Physics Van is fun!
Physics Van is fun!
Physics Van is fun!

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Physics Van: FAQs Asked by Schools


What topics does a typical Physics Van show cover?
Our show consists of about 15 demonstrations on 5 different topics: The States of Matter, Air, Newton's Laws, Electricity, and Light.  For more information on the demos themselves, you can look at the link to "Our Demos" at the bottom of this page.

How much does it cost to have the Physics Van visit our school?
Absolutely nothing!  The Physics Van is totally FREE!  In fact, we suggest that any money that you might want to pay us be donated to your own school's science program.

How far is too far for the Physics Van to travel?
Because of time constraints, we are USUALLY unable to travel more than one hour from Champaign-Urbana.  Roughly speaking, this is as far West as Bloomington-Normal and as far East as the Illinois-Indiana border.  And, of course, you are always welcome to come visit us at the U of I campus.

How long does a typical Physics Van show last?
Our standard show lasts a little less than an hour.  If you plan for an hour, your kids will have time to ask questions, too.  Hands-on shows are more flexible. (Please Note: The times posted on our calendar pages also include the set-up and travel time.)

What age range does the Physics Van target?
Our show is best suited for kids in grades K-6.  If you have a few older kids too, they're welcome to come, but they may find that the material is a little below their level.  In general, we are not able to do shows for Junior High or High School audiences.

We're worried that our youngest students' attention spans may be too short for a 1 hour show.  Don't the kindergarten students get bored?
No!  Our show is very active and fast-paced.  We actually have kindergarten students in the audience for almost all of our shows and have never once had them get bored.  We've even done shows with pre-K kids in the audience, and they've had a great time!

How big of an audience can the Physics Van accomodate?
This really depends on the size of your gym or cafeteria.  In general, if you have more than about 500 kids, we should probably schedule 2 shows.  At the other end, if you have less than about 50 kids, you may want to take a look at our hands-on shows.  Or we may be able to schedule you for a shared show with another small group.

Can the Physics Van do a more hands-on type show for a small audience?
Funny you should ask.  Yes, the Physics Van can generally do a hands-on show for audience smaller than about 50 people.  Click here to find out more!

How much space does the Physics Van need for a show?
In general, the more kids in the audience, the more space we'll need.  We usually use the school gym or cafeteria.  20-25 feet of free space at one end of the room is about right for our set-up.

What supplies does the Physics Van require from our school?
All we need from you are 2 long tables (banquet tables or cafeteria tables are fine) and one student desk (ideally with a flat surface and no attached chair).  We have our own sound system and microphone, so we shouldn't need to use yours.  And, of course, we need driving directions to your school!

Is there anything that our class should talk about before the show?
Anything you can do to get your students thinking about science is great!  We talk a lot about what science is, how to be a scientist, and what it means to do an experiment, so anything you want to do with those ideas is also wonderful!

We had the Physics Van at our school last year. How soon can you come back?
Because there are so many schools in our target area and we can only do a certain number of shows each year, we'd prefer to leave at least 2-3 years in between visits to the same school.

Can we see a Physics Van Show before you come to our school/if our school if too far away?
YES!  Click here to check out our latest, professionally videotaped show!