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The Hall of Physicist

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Keywords: biographical poster creating, famous physicists, PHYSICS
Subject(s): Physics
Grades 8 through 12
School: Johnson High School, Austin, TX
Planned By: Laura Johnson
Original Author: Laura Johnson, Austin
This lesson is designed to take 2 block (90 minute) class periods and then 3 days of the students working on the lesson on their own at home.

Tuesday - 90 minutes - Day 1 (A day in the life of Einstein). I will give a biographical power point lesson over the life of Albert Einstein. The lesson will include his youth, schooling, his time at the patent office, his family life, the scientific contributions he made to society (special relativity, light and general relativity, his Nobel prize, statistics, Schrodeinger gas model, the Einstein refrigerator, Einstein versus Bohr), his politics, death, and the legacy he left behind in the physical sciences.

The students will then be required to get online and explore one of Einsteins most famous idea's, E=mc2. The students will be responsible for finding all the scientific contributions that led up to Einsteins revolutionary thought by exploring the world wide web. For the first 10-20 minutes they will be left to their own endeavors to explore the web on their own. Then they I will give them a guided lesson on how to use the internet to it's fullest potential and find credible resources that are scientifically sound. )Aka Wikipedia, although a great source for general information is not a credible site to use for a project or documentation.)

After this activity the students will be assigned to groups of 2 and give a set of note cards. Each group will be required to create a time line of the scientists and discoveries that led to the Einsteins creation of E=mc2 that they found collaboratively. Once all the students have made their poster each group will be required to present theirs to the class. At the end of the presentations we will look at how all the groups had different information and where they got their sources from.

Thursday - 90 minutes - Day 2 (The Hall of Physicists/Research Day 1). This is the beginning of a huge multi-class project. The idea is to create a museum like biographical display of the many famous physicists of the past and present. Each student will be given a project handout.

Hall of Physicists Project

Dear student,

Our physics classes have been asked to create a museum like display of many of the famous physicists of the past and present to display on campus grounds for physics day. Each student is asked to research a separate physicist and create a biographical poster of their physicists life. (1 physicist per student) The poster should include the following.

1 page biographical explanation of the physicists life. (Their family, where they are from, where they went to school, their jobs, ect)

1 page biographical explanation of the major scientific discoveries they are famous for.

1 historical time line referencing the major points in their lives.

1-2 (minimum) photograph/portrait of your physicist

1-2 (minimum) diagram/photograph - explaining an important scientific discovery the physicist made.

1 Bibliography - documentation of where you got your information (including a minimum of 2 book/periodical sources, 1 encyclopedia source, and 1 internet source)

The poster must be neat and creatively displayed. Think about the power point presentation I did on Einstein. What did I include, how did I summarize his life and his scientific discoveries? Use the presentation as a starting point on figuring out what you need to include in your own poster project.

After giving out the project handout go over it with your class. Have an example Einstein poster so they can visually see what kind of product you expect them to create (after all this will be on display for the entire school to enjoy and look at).

(Research Day 1 - Books/Periodicals/Encyclopedias) After this plan a trip to your school library. You might consider giving your librarian a heads up and possibly having all the physicist books they have pulled and placed on a cart to save time. Alternatively it is important that students be able to use the library. You could also consider this as an exploration piece of the project if your class has never been to your school library.

Day 2 (Research Day 2 - Internet/Homework) - Have your students stay in the class and use the classroom set of computers (or go to a computer lab or library). This day the students should focus on finding their internet source, photograph/portraits, writing their explanations, creating their time line and bibliography. (At my school you have to book time in the computer library or lab a 2 months ahead of time in order to guarantee a spot, a set of computers in my classroom would be ohhh so nice, hopefully you have that luxury).

Day 2 (Homework) - Students are responsible for putting their project together. I give them 3 more days to work on it at home and it's due the following Monday.

This is a really great way to get several physics classes to collaboratively create a fabulous tribute to physics scientists. I have 4 physics classes and around 80 students doing a poster on 80 different people. You could consider getting other teachers in on the project and possibly you could have 100's of biographical posters to display in the school. It's the one of the most awesome projects I've thought up. I'm even considering doing it in my chemistry and biology classes!!!!!

I'm at a Title 1 High School so I know I will have students who can't afford to print, or buy materials to create their poster. I will need to have these materials on hand for students to come after school and work on their projects if needed.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This project has great historical significance. You could have your history teachers dedicate a day of teaching students about the most major physicist in history and how they fit into different ages. Ancient Times, Middle Ages, The Enlightenment, and modern times.

Also, this has aspects that English classes can do as well. You could consider having your English teachers go through excerpts from famous physicists of different times and analyze how the language was different, what kind of writing styles they used ect.

Math also could go over the different types of equations famous physicist have derived. Many are used and taught today in our current classes. I know if my physics students learned their sophmore year what F=ma meant they would be so much more comfortable their junior year in my class actually deriving and using the formula.
I was also thinking you could make your students present your posters to their classmates as a tie it all together. You could also just spend a class period out in the hall having the students go around and look at the other posters. Their could be an awards ceremony for the top 5, top 10, ect favorites. You could have your classes cast anonymous ballots on whose posters they liked and then have a class celebration in honor of physics day and the poster winners. (Pizza and brownies are always a good idea).
Links: "Link to University of South Wales"
Link to American Museum of Natural History"
"Link to Westegg"
"Link to Nobelprize.org"
"Link to Albert Einstein Archives"
Materials: Office Suite, Books, High, Flash/USB Drives, LCD Monitors, Keyboards, Power, Computer Accessories, Printers, Animation, Video Tools, Art Tools, Projector Screens, Projectors, Inspiration, Authoring and Publishing, Clip Art, Timeline, Internet Services, Integrating Technology
Other Items: 40 Glue Bottles, $1.50 each, total of $60.00
40 Colored Pencils (class set), $1.50 each, total of $60.00
40 Markers (class set), $1.50 each, total of $60.00
500 Consturction Paper (Sheets), $2.00 each, total of $1000.00
80 Posters, $0.33 each, total of $26.40