Science demonstrations are often criticised for their passive nature, their gratuitous exploitation and their limited ability to develop scientific knowledge and understanding. In some of today’s active-learning-obsessed classrooms, demonstrations are getting a bad reputation compared to their hands-on equivalents.
I’m passionate about the power of science demos in, and out, of the classroom. For me, demonstrations can be emotionally engaging science theatre. Their unique power lies, like theatre, in their impact on the communal emotional engagement and focus of the audience. Demonstrations have enormous potential to:
- create and sustain interest
- stimulate curiosity
- communicate and share emotions
- reveal phenomena by showing, not just telling
- direct focus
- develop scientific thinking skills, and
- provoke further interaction, thought and discussion.
I’ve tried to capture a rationale for the benefits of science demonstrations in this paper written for science teachers, but much of this applies to the demos performed by science communicators too.
So why are science demonstrations important to you?