The class sits in Sterling Hall, awaiting each new fact with growing suspense. After each new visual aid, the class says \Oooh ... aaah!"" in unison, showing its genuine excitement for the study of physics.
This is not your usual UW-Madison physics class.
On Sunday, UW-Madison physics Professor Clint Sprott gave the first of his annual series of Wonders of Physics presentations, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
According to Sprott, the lectures are geared toward young children to encourage the development of science literacy. To date, Sprott has presented The Wonders of Physics over 150 times and to a total audience of 50,000 people.
""When we started, there was really no one doing these lectures, and now nearly every university has them,"" Sprott said.
Sunday's presentation featured soda cans projected into the audience, exploding soap bubbles and a human light bulb--complete with sparks shooting out of the person's hands. Albert Einstein and a large monkey also stopped by to help out with the presentation.
Among other participants was retired UW-Milwaukee chemistry Professor Robert Greenler.
""It is very important to talk to the public and get them interested about subjects such as this,"" Greenler said.
The presentation held the interest of the audience through its use of science equipment, often in ways not seen in the laboratory.
""You never know what will happen in these shows,"" Sprott said, over the sound of one of the presentation's frequent surprises--a large geyser suddenly erupting.
The audience's enthusiastic response first got Sprott interested in the demonstrations.
""I think it will continue because the department realizes its value and impact,"" Sprott said.
For instance, Sprott said, one particular audience member said the excitement of the presentation ""changed his view of the world,"" leading him to study physics at the UW-Madison graduate school.
Additional presentations will be held at 1300 Sterling Hall, Feb. 15 and Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Free tickets are available by calling 262-2927.