Wonders of Physics, UW-Madison

Wonders of Physics

Annual presentations of The Wonders of Physics in Feb. – presented free to the general public at UW-Madison.

Wonders of Physics Battles the War of Science Illiteracy

What is Physics?

Physics is the science that studies how the natural world works.
Motion, Heat, Sound, Electricity, Magnetism, and Light are the main areas of classical physics study.

Studies have shown time and time again a general lack of interest in science and an overall decline in science literacy in the United States.

Since 1984, the University of Wisconsin – Madison has been active in combating this problem of science illiteracy with annual presentations of their program called “The Wonders of Physics.”

*Scroll down for a ton of resource links, experiments to try, and videos with Prof. Sprott.

Wonders of Physics is a fast-paced presentation of physics demonstrations chosen to be entertaining as well as educational in order to generate interest in physics among people of all ages and backgrounds.

The theme of the program changes from year to year.  If you’ve attended the show, you can give them feedback so that they can continually improve the shows every year.
Wonders of Physics, UW-Madison

The 30th Annual Wonder of Physics Extravaganza was a great success.
Watch the program and check out the story in the Wisconsin State Journal!

(More resources courtesy of the Wonders of Physics program are listed below. Check them out!)

Wonders of Physics, Prof. Clint Sprott

Professor Clint Sprott

The show has been presented by Professor Clint Sprott, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Wisconsin, on the Madison campus over 200 times to a total audience of about 70,000.

The Wonders of Physics presentations – held annually in February – are held in 2103 Chamberlin Hall, 1150 University Avenue, Madison, WI.  DIRECTIONS

Free tickets are available (beginning January 1st) using the On-Line Ticket Form.  Alternately, you may call
(608) 262-2927 or e-mail
Be sure to specify the show you prefer and the number of tickets.  Electronic tickets will be used — you may print your own tickets or pick them up at the show.

wonders of physics Univ Wisc MadisonCheck out the video from the 2013 Show.

To check on availability and order your free tickets, click here.

In addition, a traveling show has been developed and presented by physics graduate students and staff over a thousand times to audiences of all ages throughout Wisconsin and the nation.  A variety of educational tools and materials have been developed including videos, software, a demo book, and a lecture kit.

Wonders of Physics, Prof. Sprott, UW-Madison - video streaming

You can stream the videos directly to your computer for free by clicking on the links on http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/wop.htm

Annual Physics Fair 

During the run of the Wonders of Physics program  is a free Physics Fair held in same building.  Check here for the date and time.  The Physics Fair features hands-on demonstrations, activities for kids and families, laboratory tours, and a chance to talk with real-live scientists.  There are exhibits representing the research groups of the Physics Dept. as well as displays on physics topics.  Additionally, the Ingersoll Physics Museum will be open.

The Wonders of Physics presentations – held annually in February – are held in 2103 Chamberlin Hall, 1150 University Avenue, Madison, WI.  DIRECTIONS

Shows fill up fast, order your free tickets click here.

Here’s Professor Sprott in action at the 2011 Cairo Science Festival as he talks about sound waves and explains how electricity works by using a Tesla coil to generate very high voltage to create electromagnetic waves in the air.


Videos are available for purchase or free online streaming here.

Prof. Sprott currently has 30 shows available for viewing on YouTube here.


Just For Kids — Here are some Experiments you can try at home

Experiments You Can Do At Home from Professor Clint Sprott and the Wonders of Physics

Download a PDF with many different experiments that you can do at home exploring motion, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism and light.

You may have heard of Newton’s Cradle, but have you ever heard of Newton’s Beads?  Check out this video of Mike uncovering the science behind this demo.  You can even do at home!

More Science Links and Physics Resources from the Wonders of Physics Program:

Home Experiments (pdf) Download printable version

UW Space Place: Education and public outreach center of the UW-Madison Astronomy Department

Science is Fun: Educational website for Chemistry from the mind of UW-Madison Chemistry professor Bassam Z. Shakhashiri

Geology Museum: Explore the Geology Museum and take a peek into Wisconsin’s deep history

Institute for Biology Education: Raising the next generation of Biology Scientists

Science Alliance: UW-Madison Science Outreach on Campus

Synchrotron Radiation Center: UW-Madison SRC aiding researchers in their discoveries

Science Friday (SciFri): Weekly science radio show hosted by NPR, Fridays 1-3pm

Wonders of Physics Demonstrations – more information on the physics behind the show

Teacher’s Guide (pdf)- printable information on the physics behind the show

Physics Demonstrations book by Clint Sprott

Database of Physics Demonstrations – from the UW Physics Department

Books of Science Experiments – from the University of Maryland Physics Department

How Stuff Works

Science Links for other UW Science Outreach Programs

The Wonders of Physics program inspires interest in physics among people of all ages and backgrounds. Videos are available for free online streaming here.

For more information, performance schedule, and tickets visit: Wonders of Physics Home Page.

You can also access more information on their Facebook page or subscribe to their YouTube page.

The Wonders of Physics program is made possible by grants from the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences of the United States Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

Department of Energy logo                   National Science Foundation logoUpdated. Originally posted 2012.


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