Blog Archives

A Collection of Natural Science Demonstrations from Harvard

Science often feels like a magic show and that aspect makes it particularly appealing to science education. Great communicators of science like Walter Lewin can enchant any audience by turning ordinary physical phenomena into captivating demonstrations that violate intuition and tickle imaginations. In this tradition, Harvard University has created a collection of science demonstrations and simulations covering chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Some of these demonstrations are hard to replicate at home or even in a regular school classroom because of the complex equipment requirements, which is why putting them online is so beneficial. Below is an example of one of the demonstrations that features Chladni plates. More videos are available on the Harvard Natural Sciences Demonstrations Youtube channel.

The Seasons Simply Explained

The fact that certain months are hot and others are cold is so deeply ingrained in our brains that we take it for granted. Fortunately, it doesn’t take advanced science to explain the basics behind this phenomenon. In the “Reasons for Seasons” animation below, Rebecca Kaplan talks about the science of seasons as if she is reading a fairy tale, not giving a serious lecture. This makes for wonderful bedtime learning even if you’re already a serious adult.

The Scale of the Universe and How We Measure It

Students often ask about the existence of the largest, smallest, or most distance objects that exist. These questions undeniably provide intellectual entertainment, especially when we can visualize the answers with ease. Take a look at this beautiful interactive animation created by Cary and Michael Huang to get a sense of the the kinds of distances and sizes that exist in the universe, and then look at the Royal Museums Greenwich animation that introduces the physics of measuring distances to macroscopic objects in the Universe. The video skips the details of how some of the distances are calculated but is a good starting point for further geometrical explorations that are not beyond the school curriculum.