February 2011

Otto von Guericke Would Have Been Proud

I visited a local elementary school today and we were able to recreate “an original air pressure experiment” performed by Otto von Guericke in Magdeburg in 1650. We used Pressure Pullers from Educational Innovations. It is interesting, how quickly the tools people invent open possibilities for exploration. Von Guericke invented an air pump and he put it in use in Magdeburg more than 350 years ago. You might be thinking he did it to fill up his bike’s tires. However, he wanted to demonstrate the existence of air pressure.  He created vacuum inside two metal hemispheres and made 16 horses pull on the hemispheres from both sides. The horses were not able to pull them apart. This is so cool and what is even more interesting, that we can repeat this experiment today as a classroom demonstration for elementary students. I love visiting elementary and secondary school students with science shows and demonstrations for many reasons. One of them is that I can share with them these great science ideas and science experiments and make them active participants in a science discovery. What is even more exciting, is to visit elementary school where teachers love teaching science. That was certainly my experience today in a school I visited.

Although I volunteer my time, I often drive far and need support to buy non-reusable supplies. These visits are sponsored by the Scientists and Innovators in the school from the Science World. This is a great organization and I feel that every such visit matters.

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