Show: Remembering When

Episode: 868-087 Watch Mr. Wizard.mpg


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Episode Description:

Watch Mr. Wizard is an American television program (1951–1965) for children that demonstrated the science behind ordinary things. The show's creator and on-air host was Don Herbert. Marcel LaFollette has described the program, "It enjoyed consistent praise, awards, and high ratings throughout its history. At its peak, Watch Mr. Wizard drew audiences in the millions, but its impact was far wider. By 1956, it had prompted the establishment of more than five thousand Mr. Wizard science clubs, with an estimated membership greater than one hundred thousand."

Watch Mr. Wizard first aired on NBC on March 3, 1951 with Don Herbert as Mister Wizard. In the weekly half hour live television show Don Herbert played a science hobbyist, and every Saturday morning a neighbor boy or girl would come to visit. The children were played by child actors; one of them (Rita McLaughlin) enjoyed a long subsequent acting career. Mister Wizard always had some kind of laboratory experiment going that taught something about science. The experiments, many of which seemed impossible at first glance, were usually simple enough to be re-created by viewers.

One example was Mr. Wizard's use of a small axle and two wheels from a toy car or truck to illustrate the refraction of light when crossing the boundary between two transparent media having different refractive indices. He placed the axle, oriented horizontally, at the top of a sloping board having surfaces with two different coefficients of friction, meeting at an angled straight line. As the axle rolled down the incline, one wheel encountered the surface with the different coefficient of friction first. That wheel then started rolling at a different speed, which caused the axle to rotate away from vertical. It was a wonderful mechanical analogy that made understanding the effect of convex and concave lenses intuitive.

The show was very successful; by 1954 it was broadcast live by 14 stations, and by kinescope (a film made from the television monitor of the original live broadcast) by an additional 77. Mr. Wizard Science Clubs were started throughout North America, numbering 5,000 by 1955 and 50,000 by 1965. The show moved from Chicago to New York on September 5, 1955, and had produced 547 live broadcasts by the time the show was canceled in 1965. The show was cited by the National Science Foundation and American Chemical Society for increasing interest in science, and won a 1953 Peabody Award.

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SD (Standard Definition) File

File Name of SD Episode: 868-087 Watch Mr. Wizard.mpg

Total SD Episode Video Runtime (hh:mm:ss): 00:31:14

File Size of SD Episode Video: 1,461,582,906 Bytes

Resolution of SD Episode Video: 720x480

Date SD Episode Video Uploaded: Saturday, January 12, 2013 - 14:44


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