Although many students are taking remote online courses and staying socially distant on campus, the University of Maine’s clubs and organizations have found ways to keep students involved and connected. The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is an organization at UMaine that has made adjustments to make sure its members are having fun and staying safe.

“During the pandemic, we have kept in touch [by using an] email list,” third-year physics student Maggie Beth Turcotte said. “We’re planning and holding all SPS meetings online this semester to keep with social distancing guidelines. The UMaine chapter of SPS is one of more than 800 chapters at universities across the country, and each one is unique. SPS isn’t limited to engineering physics/physics majors, anyone is welcome to join.”

The SPS brings students interested in learning about the universe together. The organization usually hosts many events and activities throughout the semester, always welcoming new students to join and share their interests and research. Some of the events that SPS hosts each year include Super Smash Bros tournaments, movie nights and much more physics- and astronomy-related activities. Once a semester, the group also gets together to make liquid nitrogen ice cream at an evening event to get students involved and celebrate their accomplishments. The SPS also hosts special lectures by welcomed professors in the field and brings select students to the Physics Congresses where they can meet and interact with students from all over the country.

“I first heard about the Society of Physics Students at the beginning of my [first] year. I heard about it through friends in the department who I met while doing research on campus in the physics department when I was in high school,” Turcotte said. “I joined SPS to meet people in my major, but also because of all the fun things we do! I like being involved to learn new things in physics and about my classmates’ research, meet like-minded people and have fun at our meetings.”

Turcotte recently had the opportunity to present her exoplanet detection research to the club, and also shared research she conducted during her internship at NASA Goddard at the 2019 Physics Congress (Physcon) in Providence, Rhode Island. Physcon is a Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Honors Society sponsored event that is typically held on a weekend in November biennially.

“This year SPS is meeting all online over Zoom,” Turcotte said. “We have plans this semester to fundraise for Physcon 2021 in Washington, DC, start a mentorship program, host faculty lectures and have lots of socially distanced fun!” 

Turcotte served as vice president on the executive committee in 2019-2020, and SPS is always looking for interested students to sign up and join the STEM field. To be apart of the SPS email list, please visit the Google Drive link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/2/d/1PTFEw84rQa51QcZLoUaIbY0FG4Ql0WWFYBD4qJhQWpw/edit?usp=sharing. To find out more information or contact members of the SPS, please email casey.bellefleur@maine.edu.