Kids of all ages are discovering a new-found interest in science thanks to the outreach efforts of a physics professor at Texas A&M University.
The Texas A&M Physics Show, presented regularly by Aggie physics professor Dr. Tatiana Erukhimova and her undergrad students, has been a smash hit, drawing crowds of K-12 students and their parents to the campus each month.
Professor Erukhimova’s free show is designed for all age groups and is adapted to different attention spans, the department’s website states.
The 90-minute program consists of three parts: a 45–60-minute demonstration of physics experiments using everyday household items, a 20-minute hands-on activity session, followed by a “depth charge,” which is done outdoors, for obvious reasons.
Erukhimova’s presentations stand out because of the energy and joy she brings to the show. Her face lights up with delight as she demonstrates various science principles as if she were seeing them for the first time herself, even though she performs 50 shows annually. Her enthusiasm is contagious, as the kids at her shows appear enthralled with what they are seeing and experiencing, according to CBS News Texas.
In addition to the on-campus performances, Erukhimova and her undergrad student team also venture into the community to “meet people where they are,” bringing “exciting science experiences to existing events and venues” in the local area. They can be found interacting with the public at community festivals, home football games, and on the streets of the nearby city of Bryan.
The initiative, known as “Just Add Science,” is an effort to “engage with audience members who may never attend a science event on their own accord. By engaging people in the midst of activity, the Just Add Science approach has the potential to show that science is relevant to things they already care deeply about,” the website explains.
But it is not just kids in the local area who have caught “physics fever.” TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube videos featuring Erukhimova demonstrating science concepts through fun experiments have gone viral, with many garnering millions of views.
Erukhimova told CBS Mornings that the videos were “just another way for us to connect with people and bring physics into their homes,” with the goal of “making physics accessible and enjoyable to people.”
The professor was born in Russia, the child of two physicist parents, and earned her Ph.D. in physics from the Russian Academy of Sciences. She joined the College of Science at Texas A&M in 2001 and began organizing science outreach programs. Over the years, Erukhimova has earned many accolades and awards for excellence in teaching and her community outreach initiatives.
Most recently, she was the recipient of the 2023 Dwight Nicholson Medal for Outreach for her “leadership in bringing the excitement of physics through innovative education programs.”