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Physics and Musical Farce: A Perfect Experiment. A Case Study in the Success of Promoting Learning of Advanced Concepts of Physics Through Medium of Musical Theatre

Presented by
Lawrence Herklots (King Edward VI School, Southampton, UK); Oliver Leaman (Blundell's School, Devon, UK)

Between 2005 and 2017, three musical theatre productions were self-penned and produced, all promoting understanding of key concepts in the historical and theoretical development of Physics. This session will outline some of the successes this approach to pedagogy has had and the extent to which musical theatre can enable the understanding and enjoyment of complex concepts in the teaching and learning of Physics, as well giving all those involved an understanding that creativity and imagination are behind all intellectual and artistic endeavours.

The works discussed will include:

  • Einstein‚ The Musical‚ (2005), a show based on the reflections of the older Einstein on the work he carried out in his youth, including staged and sung analogies for his all major theoretical interests of 1905.
  • That Certain Uncertainty‚ (2011)‚ musical comedy of love, loss and quantum physics. A farce set in 1927, an extended metaphor for aspects of quantum physics. The two entrances to the stage constantly evoked the two-slit thought experiment. A group of three physicists on the way to Copenhagen excitedly discuss, through the medium of song, recent advances in their field.
  • Welcome to Gedanken‚ (2017), concerned the absence of evidence of the luminiferous ether. Another farce, the play explores the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment, taking in a number of other ideas from physics, philosophy and psychology. It ends with the publication of Einstein's statement of the non-existence of the ether, his Gedanken experiments having been misinterpreted as experiments taking place in Gedanken.