Organizers of annual USU Physics Day at Lagoon cancel 2020 event

Some 10,000 middle school and high school students were expected at USU Physics Day at Lagoon 2020 which, along with gut-churning amusement park fun, features a variety of STEM competitions, including a ride design contest. M. Muffoletto.

LOGAN, UTAH — Utah State University Physics Day at Lagoon organizers announce the 2020 event, scheduled for May 15, is canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The long-running STEM outreach gathering, which hit the 31-year mark this year and was expected to attract some 10,000 participants to the northern Utah amusement park, has become a celebrated harbinger of spring and a rite of passage for thousands of Intermountain teens.

USU Physics Day at Lagoon organizers announce the 2020 event is canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The long-running STEM outreach gathering, which marks its 31st year, was scheduled for May 15 at the Farmington, Utah amusement park. M. Muffoletto.

“We are, of course, disappointed, as we look forward to this gathering all year long,” says USU Physics Professor J.R. Dennison, a founder and long-time coordinator of the event. “But for the safety of everyone involved, this was a necessary decision.”

Dennison adds coordinators plan to add online activities to the event website at physicsday.usu.edu and provide instructions for activities students can conduct on their own at Lagoon, when the park re-opens.

“We don’t want our participants to miss out on all the fun and educational value of this experience,” he says. “So, we’re working with Lagoon and our sponsors to develop a series of virtual lessons.”

USU Physics Day organizer and founder J.R. Dennison, right, talks with USU volunteers at a past event. The physics professor says organizers are preparing online activities, available on the event website, teens can enjoy at home. M. Muffoletto.

At best estimate, more than 150,000 aspiring scientists have participated in the yearly day of gut-churning science fun at Davis County’s über-playground since the program’s 1990 inception. With coordination support from Idaho National Laboratory and funding support from a host of public and private sponsors, teens from Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and beyond, along with their teachers, enjoy hands-on activities, STEM exhibits and scholarship competitions at the popular Farmington, Utah park.

“In recent years, we’ve started welcoming the children of students, who participated in our earlier Physics Days,” Dennison says. “While we’ll miss the fun of a day at Lagoon, we’re adapting, as everyone is adapting, to our circumstances. We’re committed to offering the best experience possible – even if it’s virtual.”

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