About the Demos

This catalog provides an illustration and a brief description of the more than 600 lecture demonstrations available to instructors in the Physics Department at U.C. Berkeley. We frequently update this catalog as we continue developing new demos throughout the year. The demonstrations are organized by topic (A: Mechanics, B: Waves etc...) . We recognize the good work of the PIRA lecture demonstration classification scheme used at other schools, but we are sticking with our long extant system of cataloging our demos. This website is our first attempt to cross indexing both systems so that people using the PIRA system may more quickly locate an equivalent demo at our site. A popularity rating (0 to 5 diamonds) indicates which demonstrations have been requested most frequently by instructors.

Professors who use lecture demos will find it helpful to exchange ideas with the Lecture Demonstration Staff. They often know better ways to demonstrate a concept or experiment. Demos that do not yet exist can often be constructed. It is sometimes complained that demonstrations use up some of the instructor's class time. However, it can be time very well spent. A good demo helps spark interest and can liven up a class. The visual impact of a good demo can help to make a concept clearer and more 'real' in the mind of a student. Years after taking a class, the demos are often what a student remembers with the greatest clarity. Plus, many of the demos are fun!

Some of the demos are easily performed; others require more skill or preparation. With all of these demos, it is a good idea to test the apparatus out before a lecture begins. (Many of the demo 'failures' during a lecture are because the apparatus is not being used correctly, or not enough time is allowed.) Occasionally a demo will fail completely,- but it does not have to be a loss: it is a reflection of how things operate in the real world!

We would appreciate any feedback and suggestions for changes in this on-line collection.

Here's some of the demos that have been created or improved upon in the past year. They may not have an official entry yet, so we'll draw your attention to them here

Lecture Demonstration Ordering Info

The UC Berkeley physics lecture demonstrations are available mainly to professors (and teaching assistants) in the physics department. Demos are generally not available to the outside public, except in special circumstances.
Demonstrations can be ordered in the following ways:


  • Log in and start ordering!
    This is the preferred method. If you have any questions about your login credentials, send us an email. Using the ordering system is greatly beneficial to us and to future teachers.

  • e-mail

    • Demo requests can be sent via e-mail to demos@physics.berkeley.edu. The request should include:

      • Your last name.
      • List of demonstrations (with demo catalog number).
      • Time, day and date that the demonstrations are needed.
      • Course and room numbers.
      • Your e-mail address.

  • By phone

    • Orders can be called in to the demo room at 642-3267. (There is an answering machine.) If you are ordering many demonstrations, it would be better to stop by 72 Le Conte or e-mail your request.

Further Demo questions can be directed to Roberto Barrueto or James Little at (510) 642-3267. You can also send e-mail messages to demosATphysics.berkeley.edu replace AT with @