Session U7: Physics Demonstrations and Strategies for Teaching and Public Outreach

Jim McGuire, Session Chair, Tulane University

Bringing Nano to the Public Through Informal Science Education

Wendy Crone, University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Prof. Crone reported on tested methods for effectively communicating concepts about nanoscale science and engineering. Her talk gave an introduction to the informal science education field, discussed the art of honing your message into clear and realistic learning goals, described methods for understanding your audience and their background, and helped researchers to appreciate the limits of what can be learned in one experience. It also reviewed what the public currently understands about nanoscale science and engineering and the challenges that these (mis)understandings create for museums and researchers. These insights were developed through her experience directing a internationally recognized education development enterprise focused on the theme of "Exploring the Nanoworld" for 6 years with the UW Materials Science Research and Engineering Center (MRSEC) on Nanostructured Materials and Interfaces. The MRSEC Interdisciplinary Education Group website is located at: Email:

Preparing minority undergraduate students for successful science careers

Murty A. Akundi, Xavier University of Louisiana

In the view of Jim McGuire, session chair, Xavier of New Orleans has a reputation as the leading historically black college producing African American undergraduates in science. Xavier has been #1 among the minority serving institutions in graduating the highest number of physics graduates for the past 10 years. They are also # 1 in physical sciences and sending most students to medical schools. Email:

"Wow" is good, but "I see" is better – techniques for more effective Physics demonstrations

Stephen Collins, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans

Lusher focuses on a high-academic college-preparatory curriculum, with early college credit classes through Tulane University and Advanced Placement courses, incorporating the arts throughout the curriculum. Mr. Collins discussed educational best practices in the context of science demonstrations, and modeled the techniques for the audience. A series of demonstrations utilizing a microwave oven were used as examples through which the audience was engaged in predicting outcomes, observing, measuring, and analyzing. Email:

Gravity – The Engine of the Universe

John Thacker, LIGO and Covington High School, Covington, LA

The LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) Science Education Center has over 40 interactive, hands-on exhibits that relate to the science of LIGO. The center hosts field trips for students, teacher training programs, and tours for the general public. One may explore science concepts such as light, gravity, waves, and interference; learn about LIGO's search for gravitational waves; and interact with our scientists and engineers. Email:

Sparks Fly with Physics

Robert McGuire, Sci-Port Discovery Center.

Sci-Port is a private, non-profit organization with a rotating governing board of community leaders and a staff of scientists, educators and business professionals. The center opened November 21, 1998 on the Shreveport-Bossier City downtown riverfront. Since opening, people of all ages have explored the fun of science, technology and math provided by Sci-Port's programs, exhibits and educational environments. Sci-Port's partnerships with school systems, effective collaborations with community organizations and diverse public/private support have established the science center as a cornerstone in the economic and educational development of the southern region and a leader of informal science education in the state of Louisiana. Email: