Physics Demonstrations: A Sourcebook for Teachers of Physics

Sprott, Julien Clinton, Physics Demonstrations: A Sourcebook for Teachers of Physics. (Illus.) Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, 2006 290pp. $45.00. ISBN 0-299-21580-6. Index

What an outstanding resource this book is! A compilation of physics demos across the curriculum, the volume organizes the experiments it presents by topic, making it easy for the reader to select a pertinent activity. Each demo has a minimum of one photograph, showing the author performing the demo. When necessary for clarity, additional pictures show the experiment in progress. In addition, the resource includes two DVDs showing each demo performed by the author. While performing the physics show (for a young audience), the author refers to the scientific method and cautions viewers on safety issues.

Each experiment/demo includes a list of materials, written procedures, a discussion section, a warning about potential hazards, and references. These features make the book an invaluable resource. Amid the experiments, the author intersperses comments from personal experience, such as discussions to have with the students. Some are anecdotal, while others anticipate areas likely to present conceptual difficulties. The physics explanations are clear and accurate.

The book has demos that are appropriate for a college-level introductory class, as well as activities for elementary students. The latter will not fully understand the physics, but some activities would make a striking demo and will encourage class discussion. In the discussion section, the physics is well explained. As a result, the reader will be better able to utilize the demo.

The only drawback I noted is the use of some expensive equipment that is not available in many schools. When possible, the author gives suggestions for cheaper equipment, but many demos need specific apparatus. --JoAnne M. Harris, Stafford High School, Stafford, VA

Science Books and Films
August 2006
Washington, DC