Noted chemistry educator delivers Christmas ‘Science is Fun’ lectures

Nov. 8, 2012

by David Tenenbaum

Photo: Bassam Shakhashiri

Chemistry Professor Bassam Shakhashiri performs before an audience filled with children and their parents during his annual "Once Upon a Christmas Cheery In the Lab of Shakhashiri" demonstration program in 2009.

Photo: Bryce Richter

Chemistry Professor Bassam Shakhashiri will give his 43rd Christmas "Science is Fun" presentation Dec. 1 and 2 on the UW–Madison campus. The event will be shown on Wisconsin Public Television later in December.

As always, the show will focus on astounding demonstrations from the world of chemistry and beyond. "Chemistry is the science of how atoms bond together, and almost anything interesting in science has a chemical aspect," says Shakhashiri.

Shakhashiri, who is also president of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, says his Christmas lectures follow the tradition of British scientist Michael Faraday, who made epic discoveries in electrochemistry and electromagnetism, and began giving Christmas lectures at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1827.

"Every time we use a battery or an electric motor, we are benefiting from Faraday's insights," says Shakhashiri. "In my own small way, I am honored to continue Faraday's tradition."

"Science can be hard," Shakhashiri adds, "but it can also be entertaining and fun, and that's where the Christmas lectures will concentrate. The idea is to engage kids of all ages in the beauty, thrill and challenge of scientific inquiry."

All shows are now sold out, but will be recorded for telecast on Wisconsin Public Television Friday, Dec. 21 at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 25 at 1 p.m., and Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 9:30 a.m. It will also be shown on the Wisconsin Channel Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1 p.m.