Date: Fri Feb 07 2003 - 19:06:16 EST
We start our nuclear unit at the beginning of the year along with atoms - that is where it fits. We give a pre - questionnaire to find out what kids already know. Then we do the half life of "Pennium" and it gives a nice exponential curve. We also do the average atomic mass of "Candium" (three isotopes - skittles, M&M's and Reeses) and we give students a good idea about isotopic abundance and we even make them graph a "phony" mass spec. We do have the navy submarine guy come in, but sometimes he is not too exiting to the kids. One of the better activities we do is to watch the film "Trinity and Beyond" which has footage of all the bomb drops the US did during the 50's and 60's and then hold a socratic seminar. I also love doing the cloud chamber experiment to trace electron paths.
Off the topic a little it - There is a great website that has good info on X rays and some of the physics for light, spectroscopy, bose-einstein condensates, periodic table and a whole lot more: http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000/index.pl
I think teaching integrated science can be wonderful - if done right. I went to a workshop last spring where this guy (can't remember his name) made really well conceived integrated units between not just science, but also other subject areas. He had one unit on the holocaust/WWWII, which included genetics, development of the a bomb and some technological advances due to WWII. I think this would really help students put together a better holistic picture of science and its influence.
----- Original Message -----
From: Fiona Rae
Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2003 4:46 PM
Subject: [Channel-talkchemistry] Workshop 3
I think the sciences more easily taught as integrated courses in the lower grades where the students have not yet made the divisions. Then at the upper levels, where we can go more in depth, the students see that we can approach a topic from a biology standpoint and then the next year pick it up and look that it through the eyes of a chemist and then again in physics. The more angles we show, the bigger and better the perpective. I almost feel as though I am poaching on physics territory when we do the atom and nuclear but at least those not going on to physics have had some exposure. We teach nuclear at the end of the year when things are hectic with grades, finals, inventory and ordering, so last year I had the students do a project in groups of four. I gave them the topics to be covered with a fairly heafty rubric and lots of sites that they could draw from. It was a lot of work ahead of time but we all enjoyed the end product. The finale was that they each had to write a paper for or against the nuclear power expansion in light of what they had learned.
PS I liked the M&M activity but I would not be able to keep up with "lost" M&M's! One of our previous teachers did a similar activity to teach half lives using sugar cubes with one side (I think) colored with food color. He said that the data gave a very good exponential curve.