Date: Thu, 6 May 2010 09:14:39 +

Author: Urs Lauterburg

Subject: The value of demonstrations (was ''Interference Transparencies, Where to Buy'')



A very interesting book indeed which should also help to boost the
field we are professionally engaged in. Your pointer to the book also
made me recall a recent discussion with one of the faculty members I
currently demo my way through so called ''Modern Physics'' (the
physics from the beginning of the last century up until now). He told
me that the faculty members who are involved in teaching introductory
physics classes at our institute got recently together to discuss
future strategies to make physics a more attractive field to study.
Of course the way we incorporate physics demonstrations came up as a
topic as well. Apparently one professor from the theoretical
department who transferred to us from MIT a few years back stated
that the MIT has long ago stopped to use demonstration experiments as
parts of their curriculum in physics to enhance the field with a more
theoretical approach right from the beginning.

Is this really true? Has the MIT really lost the contact with the
real world? After all I think that the later is the essence that
gives physics the significance it has. Were they really completely
drawn into this cyberspace modeling hype that popped up with the
personal computer boom.

Fortunately a great majority of our faculty does strongly support the
value of actually showing the basic laws and properties of nature
with the help of simple, real world and live demonstrations the
students can see, hear, smell, sense and think about, right there at
the place of their occurrence.

Urs just uses Apple computers with LabVIEW to measure signals from
real experiments. Occasional simulations of mathematical relations
which represent the phenomena are only used to reinforce reality.



Urs Lauterburg
Physics demonstrator
Physikalisches Institut
University of Bern

>The master for the transparencies come in the book
>Turning the World Inside Out and 174 Other Simple Physics Demonstrations
>by Robert Ehrlich.
>- JZ