What's a watt?


CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--"Is your cat magnetic?" School children from the Sacred Heart School in Pittsburgh should be able to answer that question after they see the electrifying performance of Mr. Magnet, who will be visiting them from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on Monday, November 17.

The venerable magnetic master will visit Sacred Heart at 9 a.m., bringing with him a host of entertaining science demonstrations designed to attract students to the study of science. In one such demonstration, he will levitate a kitchen frying pan using the force of a magnetic field. In another, he will use "The Boomer" to send a Garfield doll and Rice Krispies flying through the air. A second demonstration is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, November 18, at Liberty Elementary School.

Mr. Magnet, also known as Paul Thomas, a technical supervisor at MIT's Plasma Fusion Center, regularly visits elementary schools in the Boston area to give the Mr. Magnet lecture/demonstration on the principles of magnetism and electricity. This will be his first out-of-state appearance.

"It's my firm belief that showing kids science experiments that are fun will provoke excitement and kindle their imaginations," said Mr. Thomas. "After a visit with Mr. Magnet, I think they'll find that science is not the formidable topic they thought it was."

The one-hour presentation will cover a series of topics to help children understand the magnets and magnetic forces they come in contact with frequently, like lightning. In fact, Mr. Magnet will bring with him a 1-million volt Van De Graaf Electrostatic Generator to create lightning-like displays that will crackle and make the air tingle with electric charge.

The presentation will help the students to understand that some of the technologies they take for granted, such as audio and video tape recorders, utilize magnetism.

Mr. Magnet often receives drawings and letters from kids that indicate he's achieving his goal of generating enthusiasm for science. One of his favorite letters said, "I want to be a physists [sic] and go to college at MIT."

"The drawings and letters," said Mr. Thomas, "are my biggest reward."


Topics: Cambridge, Boston and region, Volunteering, outreach, public service

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