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For The Community

Lectures, Tours, Demonstrations


The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Utah is committed to public outreach. Between weekly star parties on campus to K-12 physics demonstrations, we have many opportunities for the community to learn more about physics and astronomy. 

Read through our program descriptions below. If you are unsure which program best suits your needs, contact us at the email address below, with a description of what you're looking for in community engagement:

Upcoming Events

Check our calendar to keep up with our seminars, demonstrations, tours, and lectures:  

Supporting Our Efforts

Click here to support and help expand our community outreach programs 

Looking for a specific program? 

Click on the name of the program below. You can also read more about our programs by reading our program descriptions.     

ACCESSAfter School Science for Refugee CommunitiesASPIREStar Parties and AstronomUrs Outreach GroupBryce Canyon National Park Summer Astronomy OutreachFrontiers of ScienceLecture Demonstration Presentations  • Phun with Physics • Science DaySociety of Physics Students (SPS)Women in Physics Astronomy (WomPA)  • Cluster Search


ACCESS Program for Women in Science Mathematics

The ACCESS Program is an amazing opportunity for incoming University of Utah freshman who want to pursue a life of science and research. The program provides a scholarship and research exploration course during the summer before freshman year with a cohort of diverse and accomplished students. Through a specially designed course, taught by some of the university's most enthusiastic and celebrated professors, the student is introduced to hands-on experiences with real-world problems through instruction, laboratory work, and team work on assigned projects. The class is designed to give participants not only valuable laboratory experience, but also a taste of each of the major sciences. If you are interested, please click here

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After School Science for Refugee Communities

REFUGES provides an after-school program for underrepresented students in grades 7-12. This program includes tutoring, mentoring, field trips, college and career readiness, and much more. Tino Nyawelo is the program director of REFUGES and a faculty member in the Physics and Astronomy Department here at the U. He discusses the program in a video
here. If you would like to learn more about the program, please click here 

Students in the REFUGES after-school program joined the Youth Leadership Council and created short videos on the topic of body image and racism. Here are their videos:
Be Yourself: 
Who Are The Refugees:

The students also created a dance and video to be projected during their performances. They were invited to perform in a number of places, including Washington, D.C. and at "Celebrating U" at Kingsbury Hall on Presidents Circle.
You can see their video:  

Finally, watch the students in the REFUGES program launch a high-altitude balloon experiment with Dr. Sten Hasselquist:
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ASPIRE (Astrophysics Science Project Integrating Research and Education) provides interactive, hands-on lessons and labs for use in the classroom by teachers and their students. Additionally, ASPIRE provides in-classroom support, demos, and instruction in K-12 settings in Utah and the Intermountain West. We provide hands-on demonstrations and activities for student groups, public events, and for clubs both in and out of school settings. ASPIRE is the outreach program for Telescope Arraywhich is funded by the National Science Foundation. If you are interested in learning more about this program, please email the Public Outreach Coordinator for the Telescope Array, Julie Callahan, at  

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Star Parties and AstronomUrs Outreach Group

Astronomy has a special place for many, including our department! We love helping the community explore the stars and learn more about the universe around them. Paul Ricketts and his team of AstronomUrs gather every Wednesday night at the South Physics Observatory. We offer both public and private star parties, solar parties, presentations, and demos for a wide audience ranging from K-12 schools, scouts, families, and community members of all ages. Is there a community event in which you would like the AstronomUrs to participate? Let us know and we will be glad to come! We can bring some demos or telescopes to help. We can set up a booth at your science day activity or your city festival. 

Star Parties are held every Wednesday evening, weather permitting. If you'd like to learn more about Paul, check out his page. You can also contact him at paul.ricketts@astro.utah.eduIf you're interested in the AstronomUrs and their outreach opportunities, check out their website here

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Bryce Canyon National Park Summer Astronomy Outreach

Become an Astronomy Ranger during the summer in Utah’s canyon country through a unique astronomy outreach internship. Millions of people visit southern Utah’s parks each year, and its dark skies are a wonderful place to get excited about astronomy. Two chosen interns will spend the summer living at Bryce Canyon National Park, participating in their nighttime programs. These programs involve giving talks about astronomy, dark sky preservation, and operating telescopes. These internship positions are specifically targeted for undergraduate students who are interested in teaching astronomy to the general public. If you are interested and want to learn more, please visit their website here.

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Frontiers of Science

Frontiers of SCience

Frontiers of Science is a famous lecture series that has been held at the U since 1967, when the first Frontiers of Science lecture was organized by the late Pete Gibbs, a prominent U physics professor. Frontiers of Science brings eminent scientists from around the world to the University of Utah and the Salt Lake City community. It is a popular event and a great way to learn more about the cutting edge research being done across the nation and the world. If you would like to learn more, please click here

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Lecture Demonstration Presentations

The Lecture Demonstration Facility exists to aid in the teaching of physics and astronomy to undergraduate and graduate students in the field of physics and astronomy, as well as non-majors taking physics and astronomy here on campus. When this wonderful resource of demonstration equipment is not being used for university courses, there is potential for it to be shared with others. Adam Beehler is our physics demonstration specialist and has given many lecture presentations, where he uses the demonstration equipment to give folks a glimpse into how physics and astronomy can help us understand the world around us in new ways. These presentations will reveal how science can open our eyes to the beauty and excitement of the natural world. If you'd like to learn more about Adam, check out his page. You can also contact him at

If you'd like to see examples of the physics demonstrations Adam does, check out the University of Utah Department of Physics and Astronomy youtube channel here.

Learn More.   


Phun with Physics 

All programs are on hold until COVID-19 ends.

Live physics demos like you've never seen! What do balloons, bicycle wheels, liquid nitrogen, flowers, and a vacuum pump have in common? Ask our Phun with Physics scientists, Patrick Wiggins, Tori Spratling, and Jayceen Craven. Their energetic and interactive live physics demonstrations reveal science at work to both kids and adults. If you'd like to learn more, please contact Patrick Wiggins at


 Science Day

Science Day is an all-day event where high school students can participate in science-related workshops and learn more about research labs. This is the event of the year for the College of Science because it's the best way for prospective students to learn more about the University of Utah, the College of Science, and the majors within the college. If you're interested in learning more, please click here. The Physics and Astronomy Department hopes to see you there!

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Society of Physics Students (SPS)

The Society of Physics Students or SPS  is a group for physics students to share their knowledge with the public, gain valuable resources for their physics career, and provide an opportunity to be a part of the larger physics community across the United States. SPS frequently gives lab tours to U of U students, K-12 students, and other groups of young people, such as the Boy Scouts. They also perform physics demonstrations for their meetings and public outreach events. If you're interested in learning more, please visit their website or email them at

SPS Group
An SPS Officer says, “I think the word "physics" is intimidating; it was for me at least. When we go and do outreach, we try to make it approachable and get students to interact with the demonstrations. Our goal is to show them the world they live in and the forces they interact with on a daily basis in a new light and, hopefully, ignite some curiosity in learning more. Sometimes they look at us like we're magicians and, of course, it's a lot of fun to blow people's minds.” 

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Women in Physics Astronomy (WomPA)


WomPA events provide opportunities for informal mentoring and sharing of resources and also serve as forums for exchange of information and advice. We increase the visibility of women by highlighting important scientific contributions of local scientists and by participating in community outreach events, which are targeted at encouraging young women in STEM fields.  

Undergraduate Women in Physics and Astronomy (UWomPA)

UWomPA is the undergraduate version of WomPA. UWomPA provides a support system to women studying physics and astronomy at the University of Utah. It is also a social group that allows various majors and genders to mingle and discuss their lives as college students. UWomPA holds multiple events each semester and sponsors outreach events that focus on women in STEM and gender issues. If you’re interested in joining or an outreach event, please email us at   

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Cluster Search

At you can help us identify star clusters in our next-door neighbor galaxies. We’re currently working on new Hubble Space Telescope data of the Triangulum galaxy, and our own Professor Anil Seth is a co-investigator. This beautiful data set contains more than 4,000 images. The clusters you help us find will be used to help study how stars form, one of the main goals of this large Hubble Space Telescope project. Please join us!

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Last Updated: 7/14/21