Review

UniServe Science News Volume 12 March 1999










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The Video Encyclopedia of Physics Demonstrations

Ferg Brand
School of Physics, The University of Sydney

The Video Encyclopedia of Physics Demonstrations is a set of 25 twelve-inch laser discs containing an archive of 600 standalone Physics demonstrations. The target audiences are high school and junior year university students. The whole range of physics at this level is covered: mechanics; waves; sound; fluid dynamics; heat and thermodynamics; electricity and magnetism; optics; and modern physics.

The physics content and its presentation is excellent. In the School of Physics, The University of Sydney, the Encyclopedia is used in two ways. To provide alternatives to lecture demonstrations when the equipment for a live presentation is unavailable, and as an inspirational resource for a lecturer preparing a new course. The demonstrations on the laser disc show what apparatus is required to illustrate a particular point and how it can be used to greatest effect.

The twelve-inch laser disc is not a common medium in Australia. This has two consequences. Firstly, each individual lecturer must become familiar with the use of the laser disc player and remote control to select the particular demonstration on the disc. Although it is possible to quickly move from one item to another on a single disc, it is not as easy as using a mouse to select an item on a computer screen.

Secondly, the financial outlay goes well beyond the cost of $US2995 (plus shipping and handling) for the laser discs and will cause many to have second thoughts. We spent an additional $A1172 (tax-exempt price in 1995) on a Sony MDP-A3 CD/CDV/LD player with remote control. A large screen television receiver that accepts the US standard output from the laser disc player may be an additional expenditure.

The Video Encyclopedia of Physics Demonstrations is available from:
The Education Group
1547 Sunset Plaza Drive
Los Angeles, California 90069, USA


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UniServe Science News Volume 12 March 1999

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