This lesson helps fill in the background knowledge between MS PS1-1 where students must Describe the atomic composition of molecules and HS PS1-1 which expects students to Predict properties based on patterns of valence electrons. This standard correlates directly to the Cross Cutting Concept Patterns. There is a gap of knowledge about subatomic particles between the two standards.
In this lesson, students are still discovering the fundamental particles that make an atom. Students have begun performing some mini-experiments at this point, and understand what it is like to work under time constraints. Today I will introduce a stations activity and how we switch in class. My students will have very little practical experience with electromagnetic forces, so the stations are strongly needed to build a conceptual understanding of forces to explain Thomson's results. Students will be using the 7th Science and Engineering Practice: engage in arguments from evidence.
Materials needed for the "Playing with Charges" stations:
Station 1- Evidence of magnetic fields Setup
Station 2- Interaction of magnetic fields Setup
Station 3- Transfer of electrical charge Setup
Station 4- Interaction of electrical charges Setup
Station 5- Interaction of electrical charges Setup
Station 6- Thomson's First Cathode Ray Experiment
Station 7- Thomson's Second Cathode Ray Experiment
Both video clips are from High Voltage Fun on YouTube, edited with permission.
Today is a day that opens with some fun. Students have heard the phrase "Opposites Attract", but may not have any concept of the Paula Abdul song. I open the class asking them to pay attention to the lyrics, which is nearly impossible due to the animated wolf, while watching the original music video.
After viewing the video, I ask if any students know why "Opposites Attract" is a "natural fact" according to the lyrics. Some students may have an idea, but their lack of prior knowledge in physics will generally make it murky at best. Next, I explain that I have a lab to help them understand it, and ask a student from each table to come up and get a lab sheet for each person at their table.
Once students have copies of the lab sheet, which provides them a place to record observations and propose explanations for each station, I show them where each station is, and inform them they will have 3 minutes per station. When they hear the whistle (I use an athletic coaches whistle, or a bicycle bell) they are to move to the next station on their paper. I point each student table to a specific lab station to start at, and tell them to come back and find the place to record their observations and explanations for that particular station.
While students are working, I circulate the room to encourage-- both their sense of wonder and their ideas -- and to answer procedural questions. I keep time on my cellphone, and signal rotations. When students finish the last station, they return to their tables and work on their explanations.
During the time that students are working on their seventh and final stations, I place a copy of the student directions for each station on each student table. After the station time ends, I ask students to work as a table to complete any explanations for the stations they were unable to do during the lab, and to answer the final three questions at the bottom of the sheet. I allow them 8 minutes to complete this work. While students are working, I cue up both videos on my teacher computer to help us debrief.
Next we discuss their answers to the final three questions. I focus on the idea of charges being opposite, and that magnets act like charges. Secondly, I highlight that while opposites attract; likes repel, or push away. Finally, I push students to apply that knowledge to the idea that in Station 6's video, the magnet attracts the beam on one side and repels it with the other because the beam is charged.
After we discuss that the beam is charged -- I ask, "Is it a beam of light?" If they reply "yes", I use a toy paddle wheel and ask what would happen if I shine a flashlight beam on it. They generally reply that it won't move. I test their hypothesis, and remind them of the second video (station 7) with a replay. By showing the beam causing the paddle wheel to move, we prove it is a stream of charged particles, and when the beam reverses, the paddle wheel reverses.
I explain how Thomson discovered what they had found-- when a negative end of a magnet came near the beam, the beam moved away; while it was attracted to the positive end of a magnet. From this, we end the debrief with the concept that atoms must have a negative portion to their structure, which became known as electrons.