Date of Award
Dr. J. W. Patrick
"Teachers should present dramatic demonstrations of scientific principles and involve students in them. They should dispense fewer facts, ask more questions, and stir the intellect. Then the students will puzzle out the answers and remember them," says Professor Julius Sumner Miller of El Camino College in Southern California. "Remember this! If you're dead, and the text book is dead, you'll have dead students."
The classic example of the intellect being stirred by dramatic demonstrations took place in London when Sir Humphrey Davey gave the Christmas Lectures. Believe it or not, people paid to hear these lectures dealing with natural· physical phenomenon and see the dramatic demonstrations which accompanied them. In the crowd of listeners and watchers was an apprenticed printer whose name was Michael Faraday. Yes, the same Faraday who is mentioned in both Physical Science and Physics texts. His intellect, his curiosity, his imagination was sparked and set into motion by the dramatic showmanship of the Christmas Lectures.
People look, but do not see! They listen, but do not hear! This world is an enchanting place that stimulates all our senses, but most of us ignore it,11 says Professor Miller.
I became interested in the dramatics of Physics as a high school student. In the first twelve weeks of school we went through three teachers who were more dead than the book. The fourth teacher made Physics alive for us and taught by using various demonstrations and asking searching questions about the commonly known and then proceeding to the new by way of comparison. We soon found that it doesn't take a teachers certificate to be a teacher, because at the beginning of the second semester he was replaced by a dead but certified Physics teacher.
This high school experience has been accepted as a challenge to use the tactics of the Christmas Lectures, Professor Miller, and my fourth high school Physics teacher in a future classroom of my own. My self set goal is to be a live teacher with students, and hopefully spark the intellectual of another "Faraday".
The purpose of this research has not been to prepare a Physics demonstration manual. In the light shed by the Christmas Lectures, Professor Millers statements, and my own high school experience, this research proves only to be a feeble attempt to present some thought provoking questions and dramatic demonstrations of physical, and there by give you A Glance at the Showmanship of Physics.
Savage, John E., "A Glance at the Showmanship of Physics" (1969). Honors Theses. 368.