This year, after completing our four major units of second semester in regular physics, we planned on a project that would address Illinois Science Goal 13: “Understand the relationships among science, technology and society in historical and contemporary contexts.” This project has the potential to move beyond content and integrate perspectives from many other disciplines. I had some ideas in mind, but after the Fukushima disaster, my colleague and I decided that our final project would focus on nuclear physics. Here is the description of the project that we will distribute to students:
One aspect of this project that I’m really excited about is that we will be publishing all of the projects on Wikispaces so that they can be viewed by other students and professional both within and outside of our school.
I’m also very excited about the manner in which students will present their projects online. In order to highlight how technology influences the communication of scientific ideas and events throughout our society and how that has changed throughout history, we’ve encouraged students to create a juxtaposition between the time period of the topic and the presentation method that they select. For example, if their topic is historical, choose a presentation method that is modern (e.g., Marie Curie and her Facebook status updates). Or, if their topic is modern, choose a presentation method that is historical (e.g., black-and-white news documentary of fusion reactor).
I’m very interested in your feedback or involvement. Do you know of other topics related to nuclear physics that we should add to our potential topics list? Do you have ideas for other engaging presentation methods? Are you or your students interested in viewing and commenting on these projects in late May? If so, please contact me either via Twitter (@gcschmit) or via e-mail (geoff at this domain). Regardless, when the projects are published, I’ll post the link here.
Update: 20/6/11 11:09 PM
All of the student projects are on nnhsphysics wiki hosted by Wikispaces. I created an index of sample projects which contains projects on a variety of topics created in a variety of mediums.
We did something similar with our AP students following the exam in May, though I had a more streamlined approach to the topics. Nuclear weapons testing would be interesting; so too cold fusion and nuclear subs. What did your students choose to research? Living next door to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, I had a couple students videotape their parents as part of their presentations. A very worthy end of the year activity!
I updated the original post with a link to the wiki and a link to the index of sample projects. There is also an index by topic which includes links to all of the projects. I will probably write more about this project, but I definitely think I emphasized the creative method of presentation too much and the science, technology, and society content too little.