The wonders of physics
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The Wonders of Physics. Prof. Clint Sprott Department of Physics University of Wisconsin - Madison Presented at Central South University in Changsha, China on March 7, 2011. General Physics Course. ~600 students, 2 semesters

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The Wonders of Physics

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The wonders of physics

The Wonders of Physics

Prof. Clint Sprott

Department of Physics

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Presented at

Central South University

in Changsha, China

on March 7, 2011


General physics course

General Physics Course

  • ~600 students, 2 semesters

  • Two 1-hour lectures / week (each lecture given twice) mostly passive, some active

  • Two 1-hour discussions (~20 students) led by graduate teaching assistants

  • One 2-hour lab each week

  • Weekly homework problems submitted by the Web

  • Three hour-long, multiple-choice exams + a final exam


Problems with american science education

Problems with AmericanScience Education

  • Only a minority of students take physics to meet a requirement

  • Physics is an unpopular course (difficult, abstract, irrevelant)

  • Subject is usually taught in an uninteresting, unexciting way

  • Learning if often superficial

  • Physical science has fallen out of favor in the USA

  • Good students go into biological sciences, medicine, business


The need

The Need

  • Over 200 studies document scientific illiteracy.

  • Scientific illiteracy hurts Nation and individuals.

  • Teachers are uncomfortable teaching science.

  • Science has fallen out of favor.

  • We have a public-relations problem.


Objective of the wonders of physics

Objective of The Wonders of Physics

To generate interest in physics and encourage children to consider careers in science.


Philosophy of wop

Philosophy of WoP

Make entertaining presentations to audiences that would not normally be motivated to attend a lecture on physics.


The approach of wop

The Approach of WoP

  • Dramatic demonstrations, fast-paced, minimal explanations

  • Entertain first, education second

  • Encourage interaction and curiosity

  • Emphasize phenomena, not facts

  • Appeal to a cross-section of ages, education, and interests


The history of wop

The History of WoP

  • 28 years, 230 presentations, >60,000 people

  • 10 scheduled shows per year + special presentations

  • Capacity crowds (~300 people) at every show

  • Over 200 demos (20-30 in a typical show)


The presentation

The Presentation

  • Scheduling and publicity

  • Tickets / ushers / handouts

  • Costume

  • Entrance

  • Audience participation

  • Special guests

  • Live or recorded music

  • Videotaping

  • Exit

  • Laboratory tours


Topics

Topics

  • Motion

  • Heat

  • Sound

  • Electricity

  • Magnetism

  • Light

  • Modern Physics


Sample themes

Sample Themes

  • Chaos and Randomness

  • Physics of the Weather

  • Physics of the Body

  • Physics of Energy

  • Physics of Flying

  • Physics of Transportation

  • States of Matter

  • Physics of Water

  • Physics of the Cosmos

  • Physics of Sports

  • Physics of the Arts


Spinoffs

Spinoffs

  • Traveling shows (>1000)

  • Videotapes (27 hours)

  • Computer software

  • Demonstration book

  • Written handouts

  • Lecture kit

  • Integration bee

  • Teacher‚Äôs workshops

  • Radio and TV interviews

  • Web site


Traveling show

Over 1000 shows in 20 yrs

Mostly precollege schools

Full-time person (supported by US National Science Foundation & Department of Energy)

Donations ($100-400) requested per show

Some corporate donors

Traveling Show


References

http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/lectures/woptalk.htm

http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/wop.htm

[email protected]

References


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