Campus Life

Texas A&M Physics & Engineering Festival Set For April 6

Make a date for free family fun and experience the many wonders of science and technology at the Mitchell Physics Building.
By Shana K. Hutchins, Texas A&M University College of Science March 20, 2019

Don't miss the Texas-sized finale -- the five-barrel depth charge -- at 3:30 p.m. on the south side of the Mitchell Physics Building.
Don’t miss the Texas-sized finale — the five-barrel depth charge — at 3:30 p.m. on the south side of the Mitchell Physics Building.

Texas A&M Science

Texas A&M University invites audiences across Texas, the nation and even the world to get up-close and personal with science and technology this spring at the 2019 Physics & Engineering Festival, an entertaining and informative weekend scientific extravaganza for all ages.

No fees or tickets are required for the free 17th annual event (view promotional poster online), scheduled for Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the George P. Mitchell ’40 Physics Building on Texas A&M’s campus.

Activities will begin at 10 a.m. with hands-on science exhibitions and engineering technology demonstrations, and will conclude with a 4 p.m. public lecture by astronomer and author Dr. Michael Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology and author of “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming,” an award-winning bestselling memoir detailing the discoveries leading to the demotion of Pluto.

All events are hosted by the Texas A&M Department Physics and Astronomy in partnership with several other campus units, including the Departments of Aerospace Engineering, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology and Atmospheric Sciences as well as the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History.

Throughout the day, festival participants are encouraged to unleash their inner scientists aboard a square-wheeled bicycle, run through a pool of cornstarch, and try their hands at generating electricity or shooting balloons with lasers — four of the more than 200 fun experiments and displays illustrating basic scientific and engineering technology-related concepts and principles. All exhibits are manned by Texas A&M faculty, staff and students.

For the seventh consecutive year, the festival will showcase dozens of exciting new demonstrations built by student teams affiliated with the DEEP (Discover, Explore and Enjoy Physics and Engineering) Program. Hundreds of DEEP students, undergraduate and graduate, have been involved in creating the new demos during the years, and many will be on hand to present their work.

Adding to the traditional hands-on fun, NASA’s Driven to Explore Mobile Exhibit featuring one of 10 touchable moon rocks in the world and other immersive multimedia experiences will be docked in Parking Lot 5 adjacent to the Mitchell Physics Building.

In addition to exhibits, the daylong festival will feature three fantastic Bubble Shows (11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m.) by internationally acclaimed bubble artist and physics showman Keith Johnson, whose work has been featured on National Geographic TV and the Discovery Channel as well as in commercials, print ads, movies and venues across America. Attendees also will have the opportunity to meet NASA astronaut and Texas A&M professor Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg, who will present two public lectures in the Stephen W. Hawking Auditorium — one on servicing the Hubble Space Telescope while in space that’s set for 11 a.m., followed by another on building the International Space Station at 2 p.m.

Other special events on tap include Cyclotron Institute tours, Large Hadron Collider virtual tours at noon and 1 p.m., tours of 1996 Nobel Prize-winning Texas A&M physicist Dr. David M. Lee’s laboratory, and four performances of the Low-Temperature Physics Extravaganza at 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Finally, a Texas-sixed five-barrel depth charge featuring 1,000 plastic balls will close out the exhibition portion of the show at 3:30 p.m. on the south side the Mitchell Physics Building.

At 4 p.m., Brown will deliver a keynote presentation, Planet Nine from Outer Space, in the second-floor primary lecture hall of the Mitchell Physics Building. He will explain his role in the debate about the status of Pluto and its fellow dwarf planets as he explores his study of our solar system’s outer edges, where an undiscovered object estimated to be 5,000 times more massive than Pluto lurks as the true ninth planet waiting to be directly spotted in the very near future.

Prior to Saturday’s events, University of California San Diego physicist Dr. Jérémie Palacci will deliver a free public lecture, Science in the Brewery, on Friday (April 5) at 7 p.m. in the second-floor primary lecture hall of the Mitchell Physics Building. Tickets are not required for the kickoff event, in which Palacci will explain why Siamese cats have dark noses, why you always spill your coffee when walking and what those things have to do with beer.

All events are sponsored by the Texas A&M University System, the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy, Dr. Charles R. ’62 and Judith G. Munnerlyn, ExxonMobil, the Willard and Anne Levin Foundation, Col. Hal Schade ’67, Ahmed Mahmoud ’87, Michele Mobley ’87, Susan Sheskey, Purna C. Murthy ’88, CC Creations, Schlotzsky’s College Station and Pepsi. The event is a member of the Science Festival Alliance.

For the latest details regarding the 2019 Physics & Engineering Festival, including event directions and parking information, please visit

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