Physics lab brings a hauntingly good time

By Matthew Rainwater

DeKALB | Students will be haunted by more than the thought of physics homework this weekend.

NIU’s physics department is hosting its fourth annual Haunted Physics Laboratory Saturday. The department plans to haunt the lower level of Faraday Hall. The haunted lab consists of eerie electrical sparks, flying saucers, lightning, rainbow glasses and other interactive displays and activities.

There are many different scientific experiments available to entertain the child in all of us, said Pati Sievert, outreach coordinator for the physics department.

“Last year, we had a large grant and constructed several new items and took the show on the road,” Sievert said. “This year, we are funding it through the university.”

The haunted physics lab is open to the general public and free for families. Everyone is welcome to leave a donation in a box, where you can watch the money “disappear.” These donations will be used for future displays and to repair items.

The lab is designed mainly for families with children in kindergarten through eighth grade, Sievert said, targeting elementary and middle schools in the DeKalb County area. Word-of-mouth has helped make the event more of a success over the past four years. Last year, Sievert said, the physics department surveyed people at the event and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

“Nearly every child said he/she would like to come again and would recommend it to friends,” Seivert said. “Parents also enjoyed it, sometimes even more than their children.”

For the past two years, there have been nearly 700 people showing up to this campus event. Last year, the haunted physics lab traveled to nearby community colleges, and more than 1,400 people participated.

“To parents and teachers, I would say that this is a great way to get kids thinking about science in a new way,” Sievert said. “We tend to forget that science is behind all of the technology that we use every day.”

Sievert is still looking for student volunteers. Anyone interested should e-mail

Matthew Rainwater is a Science and Technology beat reporter for the Northern Star.