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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.

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Presentation on theme: "The Wonders of Physics Prof. Clint Sprott Department of Physics University of Wisconsin - Madison Presented at Central South University in Changsha, China."— Presentation transcript:

1 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

2 General Physics Course n ~600 students, 2 semesters n Two 1-hour lectures / week (each lecture given twice) mostly passive, some active n Two 1-hour discussions (~20 students) led by graduate teaching assistants n One 2-hour lab each week n Weekly homework problems submitted by the Web n Three hour-long, multiple-choice exams + a final exam

3 Problems with American Science Education n Only a minority of students take physics to meet a requirement n Physics is an unpopular course (difficult, abstract, irrevelant) n Subject is usually taught in an uninteresting, unexciting way n Learning if often superficial n Physical science has fallen out of favor in the USA n Good students go into biological sciences, medicine, business

4 Outline n The Need n The Approach n The History n The Presentation n Spinoffs

5 The Need n Over 200 studies document scientific illiteracy. n Scientific illiteracy hurts Nation and individuals. n Teachers are uncomfortable teaching science. n Science has fallen out of favor. n We have a public-relations problem.

6 Objective of The Wonders of Physics To generate interest in physics and encourage children to consider careers in science.

7 History of WoP n Fast-paced demonstration show covering all areas of classical physics n Began in 1984, 230 public campus presentations, ~70,000 people n Began in 1988, >1000 traveling shows, ~200,000 people mostly in Wisconsin but throughout the USA n 27 hours of videotapes ~1000 distributed ($25 ea) n Teacher workshops n Web sites (2) - (>500,000 accesses)http://sprott.info/wop.htm n Lecture Kit (NSF funded) ~ 500 distributed ($90 ea)

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

9 The Approach of WoP n Dramatic demonstrations, fast-paced, minimal explanations n Entertain first, education second n Encourage interaction and curiosity n Emphasize phenomena, not facts n Appeal to a cross-section of ages, education, and interests

10 The History of WoP n 28 years, 230 presentations, >60,000 people n 10 scheduled shows per year + special presentations n Capacity crowds (~300 people) at every show n Over 200 demos (20-30 in a typical show)

11 The Presentation n Scheduling and publicity n Tickets / ushers / handouts n Costume n Entrance n Audience participation n Special guests n Live or recorded music n Videotaping n Exit n Laboratory tours

12 Topics n Motion n Heat n Sound n Electricity n Magnetism n Light n Modern Physics

13 Sample Themes n Chaos and Randomness n Physics of the Weather n Physics of the Body n Physics of Energy n Physics of Flying n Physics of Transportation n States of Matter n Physics of Water n Physics of the Cosmos n Physics of Sports n Physics of the Arts

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28 Spinoffs n Traveling shows (>1000) n Videotapes (27 hours) n Computer software n Demonstration book n Written handouts n Lecture kit n Integration bee n Teacher’s workshops n Radio and TV interviews n Web site

29 Traveling Show n Over 1000 shows in 20 yrs n Mostly precollege schools n Full-time person (supported by US National Science Foundation & Department of Energy) n Donations ($ ) requested per show n Some corporate donors

30 Physics Demonstrations Book n 300-page full color book containing 85 demonstrations used in The Wonders of Physics published by UW Press in 2006 n Book contains 2 DVDs with 3 hours of demonstrations before a live audience.

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32 Integration Bee Madison--February 8: Aarti Singh defeated 13 competitors in the final round of the 2nd annual UW Integration Bee, a live-action calculus competition that took place tonight in the Physics Department in Sterling Hall. Singh, a student in the College of Engineering, suffered an early defeat in the double-elimination competition, but held on to win by defeating Mathematics student Steve Griffeth in back-to-back integrals in the championship match. The Integration Bee was sponsored by the Wonders of Physics outreach program. Grand Integrator of Madison 2005

33 New Initiatives n Additional plasma demonstrations n Workshops for teachers n Lesson plans for teachers n Minorities & impoverished areas n Expanded Web presence n Graduate student / postdoc training n Exportation to other institutions n Assessment of results

34 References n lectures/woptalk.htm lectures/woptalk.htm n wop.htm wop.htm n


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