In the matter of physics, the first lessons should contain nothing but what is experimental and interesting to see. A pretty experiment is in itself often more valuable than twenty formulae extracted from our minds. --Albert Einstein
To address this problem, the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1984 began a program called The Wonders of Physics aimed at generating interest in physics among people of all ages and backgrounds. The heart of the program is a fast-paced presentation of physics demonstrations carefully chosen to be entertaining as well as educational.
The show has been presented by Professor Clint Sprott
on the UW-Madison campus over 150 times to a total audience of over 50,000.
In addition a smaller traveling show has been developed and presented by
physics graduate students and staff several hundred times to audiences
of all ages throughout Wisconsin and elsewhere. A variety of educational
tools and materials have been developed including printed handouts, videotapes,
and computer software.
February 9, 2003 1 and 4 pm February 15, 2003 1 and 4 pm February 16, 2003 1 and 4 pm
Tape 1: 2/11/86 54:33 Classical Physics Tape 2: 6/03/86 51:35 Classical Physics Tape 3: 2/15/87 58:46 Classical Physics Tape 4: 2/21/88 58:46 Classical Physics Tape 5: 6/24/88 28:46 Physics of Sound Tape 6: 2/19/89 58:46 Classical Physics Tape 7: 2/18/90 58:46 Chaos and Randomness Tape 8: 2/17/91 58:58 Modern Physics Tape 9: 2/23/92 58:46 Physics of the Weather Tape 10: 2/21/93 58:46 Tenth Season Celebration Tape 11: 2/20/94 57:15 Physics of the Body Tape 12: 2/19/95 57:30 Physics of Energy Tape 13: 2/18/96 58:15 Classical Physics Tape 14: 2/16/97 55:23 Physics of Flying Tape 15: 2/15/98 58:43 Fifteenth Season Celebration Tape 16: 2/21/99 59:06 Physics of the Late 1800s Tape 17: 2/20/00 57:59 Physics of the New Millennium Tape 18: 2/18/01 56:15 Physics of the 21st Century Tape 19: 2/17/02 57:26 Physics of Transportation
Photos by Judy Hoffman
can't tell you how much my family enjoyed your show last Sunday! You went
out of your way to tell people it wasn't magic--but it was! It's the best
kind of magic--magic of learning and of excitement about science which
suddenly becomes self-sustaining in children of all ages and encourages
them to learn more about science. Thanks for the opportunity.
--Terry Kelly, Dynatech Corporation, Madison
Sprott: I loved your show! I love Physics.
--Donna E. Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services
so much for making The Wonders of Physics available to our school. The
students and teachers enjoyed seeing it. It will give us all a new interest
in the applications of science that students sometimes think has no meaning.
--Art Masshardt, science teacher, Sun Prairie (WI) Junior High
want to congratulate you for the excellent presentation you made last Friday
evening. You and your colleagues deserve special thanks for a highly successful
outreach activity. I am interested in acquiring a videotape of this year's
presentation as well as one from last year. There are physics teachers
in the Washington area that I talk to periodically and I would like them
to see what you have been doing.
--Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, former assistant director Science and Engineering Education, National Science Foundation
know that the local educators, students, and community benefit from the
efforts of all who present workshops and exhibits during these intense
days of educational outreach. I strongly support this activity.
--N. Anne Davies, Associate Director for Fusion Energy Sciences, Office of Energy Research, Department of Energy
you for such an entertaining and enlightening performance. I am pleased
that so many schools are utilizing the tapes you produced. I'm sure they
help to make science more fun and less frightening. Keep up the good work.
--Kenneth A. Shaw, former president University of Wisconsin System
laboratory table was packed with all the tools of his trade: beakers, electrical
generators, bunson burners, and flasks of bubbling liquid nitrogen. Such
unbridled enthusiasm would warm the heart of Sir Isaac Newton, whose bust
presided over the event.
--The Wisconsin State Journal, February 15, 1989
make in this way an exceptional contribution to the community--and doubtless
kindle among many of varying ages a keen interest in the wonders of physics!
--Robert M. O'Neil, former president University of Wisconsin System
endeavors to educate the community about the principles and wonders of
physics further affirms the University of Wisconsin's commitment of quality
education and community involvement. I salute you for your efforts and
your outstanding work at the UW and within the community.
--Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services