Editor selections by Topic and Unit

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Physics First: History and Philosophy of Physics Units

The growth of physics has brought not only fundamental changes in ideas about the material world, mathematics and philosophy, but also, through technology, a transformation of society. Physics is considered both a body of knowledge and the practice that makes and transmits that knowledge. Units are not listed in a prescribed order.

  Pioneers and Innovators (8)

Activities:

This resource integrates historical documents and drawings to explore Benjamin Franklin's experiments using lightning rods.  It includes a translation of a 1752 experiment conducted in France, full text of Franklin's letters on the subject, and historic journal articles describing how to use lightning rods to protect buildings.  It is part of a larger collection by the author, where related activities for the modern

This item is one in a series of nine educator's guides on Benjamin Franklin's experiments.  This page, focusing on the famous kite experiment, features Franklin's historic letters and descriptions, as well as related drawings and schematics from the 18th century.  The author provides insight into the history of electrostatic investigations.  Related resources integrating classroom labs and activities are available within the series.

References and Collections:

This is an online exhibit on Leonardo da Vinci, with references and activities relating to both his scientific and artistic work.

A comprehensive collection of topical exhibits, visual archives, oral history interviews, and publications relating to the history of science. Includes example syllabi for teaching courses on the history of science.

Item Type: Historical Reference
Level: Grades 6-12

This collection sponsored by the American Institute of Physics provides vignettes of people who played key roles in the history of physics, including Marie Curie, Einstein, Heisenberg, Sakharov, and J.J. Thomson. It also features packaged materials on the discovery of the electron, global warming, and the discovery of fission, pulsar, and superconductivity.

Item Type: Historical Reference
Level: Grades 6-12

Unique collection of stories spanning five disciplines, all designed to spark student interest by exploring the human involvement in important scientific endeavors and discoveries. Included are stories about the fields of astronomy, physics, biology, geology, and chemistry. Reading levels are most appropriate for high school, but the storylines could be adapted for middle school.

Item Type: Digital Collection
Level: Grades 6-12

  The Scientific Process (4)

References and Collections:

Just what constitutes a "fair test"? This practical guide explains how to set up control groups, manipulate variables, avoid bias, and distinguish chance from real differences. Includes examples of fair tests in the fields of medicine, physics, and paleontology.

Researchers have documented commonly-held misconceptions about science and the scientific process. For example: "Without an experiment, a study is not rigorous or scientific"; "There is a single scientific method that all scientists follow"; and "The job of a scientist is to find support for his/her hypothesis". This web page lays it on the line to debunk incorrect ideas and clarify vocabulary mix-ups as well.

A comprehensive collection of topical exhibits, visual archives, oral history interviews, and publications relating to the history of science. Includes example syllabi for teaching courses on the history of science.

Item Type: Historical Reference
Level: Grades 6-12

Student Tutorials:

Even the best students often miss out on the excitement, curiosity, inspiration, and passion that characterize scientific endeavor. This is a great interactive tutorial that takes the user from the seeds of an initial idea through hypothesis, control of variables, data collection, and communication of ideas. Kids will get a feel for the fluid, dynamic nature of science as they learn the language of the scientific process. Teachers: look for the related lesson plans and printable wall posters.