Skip to Main Content

Seminars and Events

Boise State University Department of Physics


A joint collaboration of the Physics Department, IDo Teach, and Concurrent Enrollment:

 “Engaging STEM Students Through Application of Theatrical Magic Theory”

Presented by Philip R. LaPorta, PhD. – Physics Department, Rowan University

Friday, April 21, 2017    4:30 p.m.   MPCB 108

 ABSTRACT: Educators that have attended any recent professional development workshops have certainly been urged to make sure our students are actively engaged in learning. We are constantly bombarded with information about the importance of, and learn various techniques to help increase student engagement. However, the advice we receive and the methods that are taught often ignore an obvious truth: in addition to the methods, the teachers themselves must be engaging! We can not rely solely on technique to make sure our students stay actively engaged. Fortunately, we can use theories found in the performance of theatrical magic as a tool for reflective practice. This talk examines five important principles in the performance of theatrical magic and how they can be used to improve our teaching and dramatically increase student engagement.

 BIO:   Philip R. La Porta grew up in Lodi, NJ where he graduated from Lodi High School (2001). After graduation he attended Muhlenberg College, where he graduated Cum Laude with his Bachelors in Physics (2005). He then went to Lehigh University where he got both a Masters and PhD in Physics (2007, 2011).  While finishing his dissertation, he won a teaching award for his efforts as a TA which helped him land his first job out of grad school: Lecturer in Physics at Princeton University.  At just 27 years old, he was the second youngest to hold such a position in the Physics department. Near the end of his the three years there, he won the Award for Excellence in Teaching. The accolades and experience he accumulated helped win his present position at Rowan University, that of a Tenure Track Instructor in Physics, a job that allows him to do what he loves: Focus on teaching. Presently, he is teaching 3 introductory level classes with over 130 students per semester and his role as Instructor allows him to do so with all of the dedication and enthusiasm that teaching deserves.

As many of his students will attest, Dr. La Porta (or ‘Dr. L.’ as he is often called), has a style of lecture that is anything but typical. This is because Dr. L. is more than a Physicist. In addition to his Teaching and Physics backgrounds, Dr. L. has been performing Magic professionally for 15 years. In that time he has performed for various local and national companies(Allentown’s Community Bike Works, Deloitte, TD Bank), acted as a consultant for various theatrical productions(Muhlenberg College, Westchester University), writes product reviews for The Linking Ring (Magic’s largest circulated trade publication), and was producer/writer/performer for several magic shows. Filled with energy, humor, and a deep desire to help students examine the world around them, Dr. L. hopes to inspire everyone he meets every time he steps on stage or  in front of a classroom. He sincerely hopes that everyone who comes to his talk will be moved to laugh, to think deeply, and to reflect on their own practices as he shares his.


Spring 2017 Physics Seminars   

Date Speaker Affiliation Title
Friday, February 03, Denise Stephens, Ph.D. Brigham Young University Brown Dwarfs
Friday, February 17, Bernard Yurke, Ph.D. Boise State University Could dye molecules provide a path to quantum computation?
Friday, March 03, Kaloyan Penev Princeton University Exoplanet Orbital Dynamics
Friday, April 07, Rory Barnes, Ph.D. University of Washington Exoplanet Habitability