Dr. Tom Herring Makes Physics Fun for All Ages
At every level, Western Nevada College Physics Professor Tom Herring makes science fun. On most days, he is teaching introductory or engineering physics to college students. But now and then, he visits local schools to hook the younger generation on science, too.
Herring uses lively demonstrations to explain scientific principles. Loud noises, high voltage and balls of fire create a sensory extravaganza that inevitably impresses and engages young minds.
“We demonstrate a variety of scientific principles, from simple mechanics to thermodynamics, and even some nuclear physics,” Herring said. “Testing hypotheses is a big part of science and I integrate that into the shows.
"Sharing the science of "why" also helps students understand how things work. I also ask people to predict the outcome of a particular experiment before I say anything.”
Herring also entices at least a few of the youth to participate in a hands-on way. “I've told many kids to wait for their family to ask, ‘How was school today?’ so they can reply, ‘The usual. I lit a professor on fire. No big deal’.”
This year, Herring made class visits to two Carson City School District elementary schools, as well as the Carson Montessori School. WNC science students Jordan Dargert, Kevin Brandenburg and Eric Waski volunteered to assist Herring in the school visits.
“I try to be available to any interested group regardless of age,” the professor said. “It's never too late to learn about science.”
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