Traditional science classes often extinguish young people's innate enthusiasm for the natural world by stressing rote memorization and factual recall rather than creative thinking and hands-on discovery. So when Geoff Law arrived at Yale in the fall of 1986, he wanted to show New Haven elementary students that science could be both fun and accessible. He designed an hour-long presentation in which Yale undergraduates used visually striking demonstrations to illustrate basic scientific principles. Laff borrowed glassware, found some chemicals, and asked for help from established community groups to arrange funding, scheduling and transportation. In the spring of 1987, Demos was born.
By showing students that a seemingly dry and difficult subject like science could be fun, he hoped to offer students at least one reason to "stick it out." Elementary school students who enjoyed the presentations would, he hoped, take advantage of future opportunities to study science at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Like a movie preview, Demos science shows were meant to entice students to come back for more.
What began as a two person act offering about five demonstrations per semester has evolved into an organization with more than 60 active volunteers in eight schools, weekly. In the past two years Demos has also expanded and formed Demos Assemblies, which presents demonstrations in about eight schools each semester, and StarLab, which works with many related on-campus groups to present basic astronomy in a mobile planetarium. Demos is always expanding, continually adding new demonstrations and new experiments.
Demos has won the praise of students, teachers, Yale volunteers, and professors. Take a look at some praise for Demos Assemblies:
"We loved it. Come back next year!"
4th Grade Teacher, Vincent Mauro Elementary School, New Haven, CT
"Great job and keep it up! :)"
5th Grade Teacher, Columbus School, New Haven, CT