The Wonders of Physics
Prof. Clint Sprott
Department of Physics
University of Wisconsin - Madison
presented to the
American Physical Society
in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
on
April 6, 2003

Outline
The Need
The Approach
The History
The Presentation
Spinoffs

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.

The Approach
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
20 years, 161 presentations, >50,000 people
6 scheduled shows per year + special presentations
Capacity crowds at every show
Over 200 demos (20-30 in a typical show)

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

Topics
Motion
Heat
Sound
Electricity
Magnetism
Light
Modern Physics

Sample Themes
Chaos and Randomness
Physics of the Weather
Physics of the Body
Physics of Energy
Physics of Flying
Physics of Transportation

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Spinoffs
Traveling shows (800)
Videotapes (20 hours)
Computer software
Demonstration book
Written handouts
Lecture kit
Teacherís workshops
Radio and TV interviews
Web site

Traveling Show
Over 800 shows in 15 yrs
Mostly precollege schools
Half-time person (Jim Reardon) supported by US Department of Energy
Donations ($100-400) requested per show
Some corporate donors

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References
http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/lectures/woptalk.htm
http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/wop.htm
sprott@physics.wisc.edu