Students are presented with a hypothetical scenario that delivers the unit's Grand Challenge Question: To apply an understanding of nanoparticles to treat, detect and protect against skin cancer. Towards finding a solution, they begin the research phase by investigating the first research question: What is electromagnetic energy? Students learn about the electromagnetic spectrum, ultraviolet radiation (including UVA, UVB and UVC rays), photon energy, the relationship between wave frequency and energy (c = Î»Î½), as well as about the Earth's ozone-layer protection and that nanoparticles are being used for medical applications. The lecture material also includes information on photo energy and the dual particle/wave model of light. Students complete a problem set to calculate frequency and energy.
The lessons in this unit were developed by teachers at Souhegan High School for junior/senior level Physics classes, to be taught during the first trimester of the 2016-17 school year. It includes 5-10 lessons that culminate in students demonstrating their ability to find meaning in complex text and incorporate key ideas of modern physics by completing the final creative writing project.
Modern physics is a very broad topic. We will be focusing on three of the main pillars of modern physics — special relativity, general relativity, and quantum theory. The goal of the unit it to have students use the concepts of modern physics accurately in a creative way and increase their willingness and confidence to learn more about the subjects beyond high school. Modern physics is intimidating to the general public. We hope to spark students interest and have students realize that they can make sense out of the counter intuitive model of reality.
Each topic will be broken into several phases of understanding:
Limitations of classical physics
Key principle that led to modern physics
Models for describing modern physics
Predictions and experiments that support and provide evidence for modern physics theories
The students will explore the phases by using inquiry-based reading. They will explore an anchor text for meaning while looking for where it addresses the four phases above. Students will then perform additional research and apply what they have learned in class to create their final project.
Through two lessons and four activities, students learn about nanotechnology, its extreme smallness, and its vast and growing applications in our world. Embedded within the unit is a broader introduction to the field of material science and engineering and its vital role in nanotechnology advancement. Engaging mini-lab activities on ferrofluids, quantum dots and gold nanoparticles introduce students to specific fields within nanoscience and help them understand key concepts as the basis for thinking about engineering and everyday applications that use next-generation technology nanotechnology.
Students are introduced to the physical concept of the colors of rainbows as light energy in the form of waves with distinct wavelengths, but in a different manner than traditional kaleidoscopes. Looking at different quantum dot solutions, they make observations and measurements, and graph their data. They come to understand how nanoparticles interact with absorbing photons to produce colors. They learn the dependence of particle size and color wavelength and learn about real-world applications for using these colorful liquids.