Reflection: Intrinsic Motivation Reinforcing Photoelectric Ideas - Section 3: Beta Plus Decay


As can happen in a class where something exotic is introduced (anti-matter), the flow of class is clearly less structured (the upcoming "Self-Directed" time), and attendance is cut in half (the aforementioned two-part assembly that has taken almost literally half of my class away), there will be an extraordinary number of questions. These happen in rapid-fire and often one is generated before the last one is addressed. I call this mode "chasing rabbits," and we had that happen today. There is a certain glee that takes over when it's obvious that this is a special set of information and, when coupled with the equally obvious expectation that no one will be held accountable for true, deep understanding of this information, the questions will flow freely. Here are some sample questions from today's class, along with very brief nuggets of my responses:

- How can the positron be so small and yet still have a full positive charge? (I asked students why they didn't have the same question about the electron . . .  that seemed to re-frame for themselves the size of the electron. This was a very fascinating question.)

- How does a proton turn into a neutron or vice versa? (I introduced the idea of quarks and the oscillation a quark may undergo between "up" and "down.")

- Why? (Now I introduced the idea of the weak nuclear force)

- What keeps the quarks together? (I re-introduced the strong nuclear force)

- Why doesn't this happen all the time? (In some sense, it does but the real reason is more connected to the randomness of quantum events.).

To do any of this justice, I quickly found an image of the standard model on the Internet and dropped it into our Smartboard for discussion purposes.  



  Intrinsic Motivation: Chasing Rabbits
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Reinforcing Photoelectric Ideas

Unit 4: Electromagnetics
Lesson 16 of 17

Objective: Students will consider the connections between linear equations and the physics of the photoelectric effect.

Big Idea: Mathematical models can be used to describe complex phenomenon. For example, the slope and intercept of a straight line have very specific physical meanings when describing the photoelectric effect.

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