Most people would hesitate to lay down on a bed of nails or sling-shot themselves down a hallway on a skateboard, but Dr. David Wright is not most people.
He’s an unstoppable force, even at nearly 70 years of age.
The Virginia physics professor has been staging wild stunts for his students at Tidewater Community College since 1974, and he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves thanks to one student who recorded his antics and posted them online.
“Y’all need to see this video collage of all the crazy things my Physics Professor did this semester,” Twitter user Erica Church wrote on Wednesday.
“He’s in his 70s and is still doing all of this for us.”
The video shows Dr. Wright performing all kinds of physics-related experiments, often using his own body.
Wright creates a flamethrower, hops on a pogo stick, makes ice cream with liquid nitrogen and runs full-tilt across the room, among other things. He also shows old footage of himself teaching on NASA SCI Files, an old TV show he used to work on.
“This man had his own science show,” a caption in one of the clips says. “Bill Nye who?”
More than 22 million people have watched Church’s video since Wednesday.
“I did not expect this to blow up like it did,” Church wrote later on Wednesday.
“He really is our grandpa away from home.”
Dr. Wright, 69, explained his approach to teaching in a lively interview with NBC Nightly News.
“You have to be enthusiastic in the class because physics has got a reputation as being dull and boring,” he said.
Wright added that he loves coming to work and has no plans to slow down.
“I feel kind of guilty sometimes,” he said. “They’re paying me to have fun.”
Wright received a prestigious outstanding faculty award for his work in 2002, according to a profile his college released about him five years ago.
Church told Good Morning America that she was astonished to see video of her teacher go viral, especially since she doesn’t have much of a presence on Twitter.
However, she’s not surprised to see others reacting to Dr. Wright’s engaging methods.
“The first class, he ended the class by walking on a bed of broken glass and I knew from that moment he was going to be an amazing professor,” she said.
“He’s made physics more practical so it means more to you than a whole bunch of words on a PowerPoint that you have to memorize for a test.”
Church hopes the video will show people that there are top-notch teachers and students at community colleges.
“I want Dr. Wright to get the attention he deserves because he is an amazing professor,” she said.
“It shows that if you love what you do it’ll radiate to other people.”