Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Magnetism and Electricity

Laura Cummins writes:
The audience at last night’s ‘Magnetism and Electricity - Magic and Exciting’ were transported back to the awe of discovery incited by electrical experiments, from Michael Faraday to GCSE physics. We were treated to experiments of speaker Geoff Auty’s own devising, including making a 3D magnetic field visible, and understanding the mystery of a magnetic Thomas the Tank Engine train set’s laws of attraction. 

Geoff Auty (centre)                Photo: Sally Bavage
These were made all the more charming by Geoff’s anecdotes on how they came about during his many years teaching, such as the demand for ‘University Challenge’-style buzzers, or the day that having a trough of mercury as a component was decreed unsafe. These simple school experiments demonstrated on a wider scale the importance of practical experiments in the classroom, and the excitement in the underpinning properties of nature that they inspire today, just as they always have done. The night opened with an extract from Frankenstein, and the theme continued as the ‘spark of life’ was explored.

Audience feedback:

I’m a regular, excellent meeting and very diverse.  CW

Great idea to link the Café to the LitFest.  Interesting topic – but beyond my limited understanding.  C.

Good presentation, in a practical sense, aimed more at school science teachers than the usual Café Sci audience.  JB

I felt as though I was 12 years old (1965) at school in a Physics lesson.  Mr Auty was a nicer teacher.  PS

Delightful return to school and ordinary practical things.  HH

Thought-provoking, interesting, practical session with in-depth QA session.  Still think the literary connection is a bit tenuous though.  AW

A fascinating evening of practical science – science in action!  I wish Physics lessons were like this during my youth.  PS

Note: Perhaps this event could have been better advertised at the Heart Centre?  JB

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