Review of Physics
Sourcebook for Teachers of Physics.
By Julien Clinton Sprott.
The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin, 2006.
290 pp., illus.
Reviewed by: Dr Barry
This book describes a wide
range of physics related demonstrations, many of them rich in
content and therefore well suited for use in the classroom to support
teaching of basic physics. Others embrace a degree of showmanship and
intended to emphasize the spectacular (the "wow factor") -
these are sure to provide great entertainment at popular lectures, open
days, and similar events.
The level of detail that
is provided ensures that someone with a basic knowledge of physics
readily carry out the majority of the demonstrations, although on
occasion clarity could be improved by the inclusion of one or more
diagrams. On the other hand, each demonstration is accompanied by a
set of references and it is pleasing to see that the author has taken
trouble to draw on and cite various older, classic publications.
The author begins by
describing the practical implementation of each demonstration and
subsequently considers the underlying physics. On occasion he presents
simple theory and calculations that support the experimental
and from which students beginning to study physics can learn a great
deal. Each demonstration is accompanied by one or more photographs, and
invaluable details are provided of outlets from which the necessary
materials may be obtained. At present these are located exclusively in
the US, but perhaps in subsequent editions it will prove possible to
include some overseas suppliers in order to better cater for the non-US
In line with current
practice each demonstration is accompanied by a description of
hazards, although occasionally I felt that the listing of insignificant
hazards detracted from the importance that should be accorded to more
significant dangers that are not always mentioned. For example, in
demonstrating the Leidenfrost Effect, liquid nitrogen is poured onto
hand. Although a warning is given to avoid "cupping" the
hands, no caution is given concerning the rate of pouring, or the need
avoid liquid nitrogen splashing onto more sensitive skin such as the
The book is accompanied by
two DVD's, which provide video footage of the author undertaking
the demonstrations before a general audience. This material certainly
helps to fill in any details that are not clearly understood from the
descriptions presented in the book, and represents a useful
Without doubt, teachers of
basic physics will find demonstrations in this book that will stimulate
students of all ages and - most importantly - will augment the