How to implement physics demonstrations?
So far, many physics education researchers have concluded that “a student can’t learn anything by just watching a lecture experiment once” . For example, even if the lecture experiment is equipped with excellent tools, its effectiveness will vary with how it is performed in class. Here, we will introduce the methods of implementing a demonstration in 3 steps; 1) before, 2) during, and 3) after the demonstration.
- Before the demonstration
- Make sure to communicate with the students about the experimental set-up.
- Indicate the important points of the experiment.
- Make the students predict the results.
- Collect their hypotheses, and then summarize them into several options.
- Tell the students not to worry about getting the correct predictions: whether their preditions are correct is not important.
- Compile a distribution of students’ hypotheses at this stage, and then share it with the class
- Make the students write down their hypotheses along with their reasonings.
- Make the students discuss their hypotheses as a group.
- During the discussion, allow them to change their hypotheses.
- After the discussion, redo the compilation of the distribution of the students’ hypotheses, and share it with the class.
- After the discussion, make them write down their new or revised hypotheses along with their reasonings.
- During the demonstration
- Ask a student to assist in the experiment.
- Perform the experiment multiple times so that the students can understand the demonstrated phenomenon very well.
- Ask the students whether they have understood the phenomenon.
- After the demonstration
- Ask students to explain what they see in the demonstration (The instructor should never interpret nor explain the demonstration, as students will stop thinking for themselves).
- Let the students discuss the demonstration and its results and come up with a physical interpretation of the results in groups.
- State the qualitative interpretations first, then show the quantitative calculations.
- Let the students compare the experimental results with the simulation results.
- Explain a familiar phenomenon that is related or similar to the content of the demonstration.
- Encourage the students do a thought experiment to ensure the logical interpretation of the experimental result.
 E.g., ”Namely, students will fail to learn from an event when exposed to it only once.” (Majerich, 2008, p.13) etc.