Ozark Local Section

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TV Chemistry Personality, Lee Marek, to Present at Missouri State

Posted by Matthew R. Siebert on March 21, 2017 at 12:15 AM


Lee Marek will deliver what is sure to be an interesting and engaging lecture "25 Years of Science on the Late Show with David Letterman, Part 1" to the Ozark local section of the American Chemical Society on Thursday, April 13 at 6:00 p.m. in Temple Hall 002. Join us for light refreshments at 5:30 PM.


From Lee: The audience for the David Letterman show is not unlike a classroom full of high school students or college freshman! It's sitting there daring you to be interesting! One way to capture attention is to do demonstrations that are exocharmic [to radiate charm-- make you want to watch] and to be a bit weird/eccentric. Good teaching is part knowledge, part preparation and part theater and so is doing science on THE LATE SHOW. More important you need a frame of mind somewhat off center to survive doing chemistry on national TV or for a class of 440 as I had this fall. As Robert Maynard Hutchins said, "My idea of education is to unsettle the minds of the young & inflame their intellects." I embrace Hutchins’ idea- sometimes literally both in my classroom, in science programs and the David Letterman Show! I use what is called the "Phenomenological" approach to teaching science -- introducing a topic with a demonstration or lab so that students have something concrete on which to focus. I use demonstrations as exocharmic motivators to captivate student interest and to focus on the day's topic. To influence high school kids, college freshman, or the general public like the Letterman show audience, you need "presence", to capture their attention. We live in a world of the 15-second commercial, internet, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and the National Enquirer. As teaching professionals we need to compete, to show the people that there is something interesting and important in learning, something about which "inquiring minds really do want to know." It boils down to "Education is not in the filling of a pail, but in the lighting of a fire" William Butler Yeats. I will present a number of video clips from the 35 Letterman shows I have been on in the last 25 years- including one used on his 10th anniversary show and one that was up for an Emmy award. These demos will range from the 8 foot ball of fire shooting across the stage, to the Dyn-o-might soap. I will describe the time I dissolved the set, discuss the 1000 pounds of thermite demo [never done] and show the time the 500 pounds of Oobleck got lose. There will be a clip of the time I almost took out Bozo on WGN! If time allows, I will show some of the other work I did with WTTW, FOX, Inside Edition and U.K. TV. I will also do a few of the simple demos with the audience. My web site has some demos and more information. http://www2.chem.uic.edu/marek/



Categories: Event, Lecture, Missouri State

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2 Comments

Reply Geoff Hudson
11:10 AM on April 14, 2017 
Thank you for hosting this event! We had a great time with the kids!
Reply Albertbup
6:20 PM on August 14, 2018 
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