Get Shouty


Learning to love learning
December 20, 2007, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

 

Ok- confession time. I’m a physics nerd. I love it. I had the most amazing, passionate teachers who romanced my classes with stories of Issac Newton and Einstein and Galileo. Only when we knew about their lives and the context of their discoveries were we introduced to the mechanics. It brought what might have been remote and dusty into sharp relief and fostered a life long interest in how things work.

I can introduce you to a similar teacher, Professor Lewin the iconic brilliant scientist who  is at once larger than life and totally accessible. Professor Lewin delivers his lectures with the panache of Julia Child bringing French cooking to amateurs and the zany theatricality of YouTube’s greatest hits. He is part of a new generation of academic stars who hold forth in cyberspace on their college Web sites and even, without charge, on iTunes U, which went up in May on Apple’s iTunes Store.

In his lectures at ocw.mit.edu, Professor Lewin beats a student with cat fur to demonstrate electrostatics. Wearing shorts, sandals with socks and a pith helmet — nerd safari garb — he fires a cannon loaded with a golf ball at a stuffed monkey wearing a bulletproof vest to demonstrate the trajectories of objects in free fall. He rides a fire-extinguisher-propelled tricycle across his classroom to show how a rocket lifts off.

“We have here the mother of all pendulums!” he declares, hoisting his 6-foot-2, 170-pound self on a 30-pound steel ball attached to a pendulum hanging from the ceiling. He swings across the stage, holding himself nearly horizontal as his hair blows in the breeze he created.

The point: that a period of a pendulum is independent of the mass — the steel ball, plus one professor — hanging from it.

The professor, who is from the Netherlands, said that teaching a required course in introductory physics to M.I.T. students made him realize “that what really counts is to make them love physics, to make them love science.”

So my Christmas gift to you all:

The MIT Physics 1: Classical Mechanics course- lecture notes, problem sets with solutions, exams with solutions, links to related resources, and a complete set of videotaped lectures. The 35 video lectures by Professor Lewin, were recorded on the MIT campus during the Fall of 1999.

» Download the complete contents of this course.


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