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Power of Teaching Lecture Features Physics Fire and Ice Demonstrations

Students and faculty were wowed by physics demonstrations that showed the powerful effect teaching has on students at the McKay School of Education’s January Power of Teaching lecture.

Professor Duane Merrell from the Department of Physics and Astronomy brought some toys from his side of campus to assist with the lecture. With fire that danced to the beat of the music and liquid nitrogen that froze ice cream for all to enjoy, Merrell used different experiments to illustrate how fun the classroom can be for students.

Professor Merrell's Fire Demonstration“I learned to take ideas that I had learned from my professors in college and that I had learned through life,” said Merrell.

Merrell explained how attending professional conferences helps new teachers gather ideas for the classroom.

“The beauty of going to professional science meetings is you find some really cool stuff that you can come back to teach your students.”

The dancing fire presentation was one example Merrell learned long ago at a conference. Merrell used a long metal pipe with holes drilled into it, called a Rubens’ Tube, and made fire come out of the holes. He then used rubber shafts on the end and played music to make the fire go up and down according to the sound waves. Students were mesmerized as the fire danced to classic rock music.

Merrell reminded education students that they are always examples of the believers, even if preaching the gospel is not allowed.

“In public schools, you can’t really talk about religion,” explained Merrell. “Have you ever thought that the only standard works that some of your students will ever read are the ones that they watch while you live your life as a teacher?”

Brad Wilcox, the host of Power of Teaching, introduced Merrell and explained the purpose of the lecture series.

“There is not a spot in our program . . . [in which] we get to talk much about the difference teachers make,” said Wilcox. “We’re too busy preparing you to be teachers to really talk about what really matters: the sense of calling that we feel as teachers, knowing that God is the one that has dragged us into this, and that He has purpose for us here.”

The Power of Teaching Lecture Series was created to validate those who have chosen teaching as a career and show others why education is a great career path.

“We want those who are here investigating teaching to know that this is something we feel strongly about; we love the work that we do, and we feel that it is important,” Wilcox explained.

The last Power of Teaching lecture of the school year will be on February 18, 2016, at 11:00 a.m. in room 3714 of the Harold B. Lee Library. Wilcox will be the main speaker and will honor two former McKay School of Education professors, Beverly Cutler and Lloyd Eldredge.

Watch the video of January's Power of Teaching lecture here.

February 16, 2016

Writer: Jordan Comstock

Contact: Cynthia Glad (801) 422-1922