The University of Wisconsin Press

Physical Sciences / Education


Physics Demonstrations
A Sourcebook for Teachers of Physics
Julien Clinton Sprott

Please click here for information on the new edition.

"He had promised to wow the audience and he more than made good on that promise. He first appeared from beneath the seats attired in a burgundy tuxedo and black cape. For his exit, he vaporized in a man-made cloud. Jaws dropped, eyes widened, and hair literally stood on end as he produced neon liquids that defied gravity, a levitating ball, a liquid nitrogen cannon, and a human light bulb."—The Wisconsin State Journal

Wow! How? Few techniques are as effective at generating interest in science as dramatic demonstrations. This fully illustrated sourcebook and two-DVD set describes eighty-five physics demonstrations suitable for performance both in and outside the classroom. These demonstrations will fascinate and amaze while teaching the wonders and practical science of physics.

Dr. Sprott shares demonstrations tested by years of teaching in his popular lecture series, "The Wonders of Physics." Science teachers at all levels will find a wealth of detail showing how to present these demonstrations to students with flair. Science professionals will find indispensable information for developing educational presentations for the public.

Organized to teach the six major areas of classical physics—motion, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, and light—Physics Demonstrations includes:

  • a brief description of each demonstration
  • materials lists, with sources for common materials
  • preparation procedures
  • discussions of the physics principles demonstrated
  • potential safety hazards
  • references for further information

Dr. Sprott's demonstrations will appeal to general audiences and students from grade school to graduate school. This book should be on the shelf of every educator who wants to make science come to life in the minds and hearts of students.

photo of author, Julien Clinton Sprott , disappearing in a cloud of vapor as he tips his top hat.Julien Clinton Sprott is professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and his many publications include Introduction to Modern Electronics and Images of a Complex World: The Art and Poetry of Chaos. He is winner of several awards for his work in public science education, including a lifetime achievement award from the Wisconsin Association of Physics Teachers. For more fun physics information, visit

"Professor Sprott is a master of his trade and a true inspiration to all who perform physics demonstrations. This text is a wonderful resource, containing a wealth of information. Thorough and well-organized, this is how it should be done."David Willey, Mad Scientist for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno

"This book should be on the desk of every college physics professor and every high school teacher. It will empower classroom teachers and those who make public science presentations to increase their repertoire and to effectively enhance the joy of learning."Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, University of Wisconsin–Madison

"Backed by solid reasoning and Sprott's extensive teaching experience, this book is a gold mine of catchy demonstrations, a delight for physics teachers."
Jearl Walker, author of The Flying Circus of Physics

"Clint Sprott: I loved your show! I love physics."
Donna E. Shalala, former Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and former Secretary of Health and Human Services

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see Course Books in the left sidebar. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions in the left sidebar.)

cover of Physics Demonstrations is a dark astral grey with several colorful circles linked by diagramical lines. The author, Julien Clinton Sprott appears out of a dramatic fog in the largest circle. He is dressed in tuxedo, and lifts his top hat.

February 2006
300 pp.  8 1/2 x 11
Includes DVDs with all demonstrations

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Cloth $45.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-21580-4
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Updated April 29, 2011

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