The Purdue University North Central Astronomy Club was formed during the fall semester. By spring, the club had already hosted two successful events and club members are looking forward to an active 2011- 2012 academic year.
The club members have varying majors and are preparing for diverse careers. Some students in this an eclectic group performed in the campus production of “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Mainstreet Theatre in Michigan City, while another won the campus public speaking contest. Their names are consistently found on the semester honors lists.
What they have in common is an intellectual curiosity about the universe around them.
Club President Jonathan Meyers, of Michigan City, is Liberal Studies major who took an Astronomy Class as an elective. He was fascinated by the moon, stars and planets and sought out all the information he could.
He often visited Dr. Aaron Warren, assistant professor of Physics, to ask questions.
Meyers soon asked his friends if they’d be interested in forming a club. The club was created with Warren as its faculty advisor, and Rick Bohan, PNC Physics lab technician, assisting.
The club picked up several members during the semester club call-out activities and has a Facebook page.
This semester the club donated a computer to the Mathematics/Statistics/Physics Department that is expected to be the cornerstone of a student resource area and will be used to facilitate student research.
Warren understands the students’ fascination with Astronomy.
“Astronomy is in my background, it is something that helped to get me into science,” he said. “It gets you to think about where things come from, how they work and how they fit together.”
Club vice president Yi Mei, a native of China, is a Mechanical Engineering major who was drawn to the club through his friendship with Meyers.
“The stars are interesting, I want to know how the heavens are formed, how the universe was created and how it all changes without us seeing it,” he said.
The group’s first activity was a presentation by Warren about the String Theory, which has been called a “Theory of Everything.”
Meyers admits that when the event was planned, he had no idea how it would be received. Club members blitzed the campus and the area media with publicity. The effort paid off. The campus Assembly Hall was filled to capacity.
Next up was a night sky viewing using the campus telescope, an event Warren and Bohan have hosted in the past, and something that the students looked forward to.
Another full house.
“The viewings are amazing,” said club treasurer Holly Trott, of Westville. The English major, who hopes to become a librarian, likes watching the skies and the universe.
Bohan enjoys the viewing nights, “It’s great to see our students look through that telescope for the first time. I like to see that light go on when they understand a concept or when students stay interested in a subject long after a class ends.”
“Nothing compares to seeing the moon through a 10-inch telescope,” added Meyers.
Jennifer Evan, of Valparaiso, is a Liberal Studies major who would like to go to medical school. She won the Hyde Park Forum Speak Off as well as several categories of the Portals writing contest.
“The vastness of the universe is remarkable,” she said. “I love biology, chemistry and physics. So many concepts of the world involve physics.”
Iris Thacker, is an English major who wants to use her knowledge of astronomy, physics and science in her future career as a writer.
Warren and Bohan welcome questions and encourage their students’ curiosity. They are consistently impressed by the depth of the questions they receive and the ever-evolving interests.
“The most exciting time as a teacher is when students not only learn and understand a concept, but want to learn more,” said Warren. “When they ask questions and want to do projects outside of class, their interest is genuine and sincere.”
Club members may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.