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American Physical Society • January 2009

PHYSICS QUEST 2008: Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair | 47

Meanwhile inside the Hall of Electricity.


Nikola come quickly!
I heard a loud “zap” in the
generator room. All of the voltage
meters are reading zero and the
transformers have ceased their hum.
I think that we are experiencing
a blackout!

Perhaps a glitch caused


a short circuit, I have
The President
to find the problem;
is going to press
and I’ll need to debug
the “on” switch
the power system.
any minute now!
I just wish that I could
Tesla quickly searches find my tool box.
through the maze
of wires and cables Tesla finds a
for the short circuit. wire frayed
He skillfully reconnects
by a pigeon.
it just in time...

Thank goodness
those students were ... as President Cleveland
able to find just the flips on the switch.
right tool I needed.
We would have been
doomed without
their help!

You did it!


You lit up
Chicago;
it’s beautiful!
Slowly, one-by-one, the
The crowd pauses and is silent. lights begin to flicker.
Everyone is anxious to see what’s Hurrah for
going to happen next. Nikola Tesla!

Then like magic, the entire


area is illuminated with the
vibrant glow of Tesla’s bulbs.

The crowd erupts into


a joyous applause.
48 |  PHYSICS QUEST 2008: Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair American Physical Society • January 2009
American Physical Society • January 2009 PHYSICS QUEST 2008: Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair | 49

Using PhysicsQuest in the Classroom


The PhysicQuest activities directly corresponds to many of the National Science Education Standards. The
standards addressed by each of the activities are listed below:
Activities 1-4 5-8: Science and technology: Understandings about science and
Grades K-12 technology. Science and Technology are reciprocal. Science helps drive
K-12: Unifying concepts and processes: Systems, order, and organization. technology, as it addresses questions that demand more sophisticated
There are physical laws governing the behavior of nature that exemplify its instruments and provides principles for better instrumentation and
order, predictability, and regularity. technology.

K-12: Unifying concepts and processes: Evidence, models, and 5-8: Science in personal and social perspectives: Science and
explanation. Scientific explanations incorporate existing scientific technology in society. Technology influences society through its products
knowledge and new evidence from observations, experiments, or models and processes. Technology influences the quality of life and the ways
into internally consistent, logical people act and interact.

Grades 5-8 5-8: Science in personal and social perspectives: Science and
Science as inquiry: Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, technology in society. Technology influences society through its products
analyze, and interpret data. The use of tools and techniques, including and processes. Technology influences the quality of life and the ways
mathematics, will be guided by the question asked and the investigations people act and interact.
students design.
5-8: Physical science: Transfer of energy. Electrical circuits provide a
5-8: Science as inquiry: Think critically and logically to make the means of transferring electrical energy when heat, light, sound, and
relationship between evidence and explanations. chemical changes are produced.

5-8: Science as inquiry: Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, n Activity 3: Lighting an LED by dropping a magnet through a coil
and models using evidence. Students should base their explanation on K-12: Unifying concepts and processes: Constancy, change, and
what they observed, and as they develop cognitive skills, they should be measurement. Knowledge of mathematics is essential for accurate and
able to differentiate explanation from description. communicable measurement. Changes in systems can be quantified.
Mathematics is essential for accurately measuring change.
5-8: Science in personal and social perspectives: Science and
technology in society. Societal challenges often inspire questions for 5-8: Science and technology: Understandings about science and
scientific research. technology. Science and Technology are reciprocal. Science helps drive
technology, as it addresses questions that demand more sophisticated
5-8: Science as inquiry: Design and conduct a scientific investigation. instruments and provides principles for better instrumentation and
Students should develop general abilities, such as systematic observation, technology.
making accurate measurements, and identifying and controlling variables.
5-8: Science in personal and social perspectives: Science and
5-8: History and nature of science: Nature of science. Scientists formulate technology in society. Technology influences society through its products
and test their explanations of nature using observation, experiments, and and processes. Technology influences the quality of life and the ways
theoretical and mathematical models. people act and interact.

ACTIVITIES 5-8: Physical science: Transfer of energy. Energy is a property of many


n Activity 1: Gel crystals substances and is associated with heat, light, electricity, mechanical
K-12: Unifying concepts and processes: Constancy, change, and motion, sound, nuclei, and the nature of a chemical. Energy is transferred
measurement. Knowledge of mathematics is essential for accurate and in many ways.
communicable measurement. Changes in systems can be quantified.
Mathematics is essential for accurately measuring change. 5-8: Physical science: Transfer of energy. Electrical circuits provide a
means of transferring electrical energy when heat, light, sound, and
K-12: Unifying concepts and processes: Constancy, change, and chemical changes are produced.
measurement. Knowledge of mathematics is essential for accurate and
communicable measurement. Changes in systems can be quantified. n Activity 4: Simple pinwheel motor
Mathematics is essential for accurately measuring change. K-12: Unifying Concepts and Processes: Constancy, change and
measurement. Knowledge of mathematics is essential for accurate and
5-8: Nature of science: Scientists formulate and test their explanations of communicable measurement. Changes in systems can be quantified.
nature using observation, experiments, and theoretical and mathematical Mathematics is essential for accurately measuring change.
models.
5-8: Science and technology: Understandings about science and
5-8: Science in personal and social perspectives: Science and technology. Science and Technology are reciprocal. Science helps drive
technology in society. Technology influences society through its products technology, as it addresses questions that demand more sophisticated
and processes. Technology influences the quality of life and the ways instruments and provides principles for better instrumentation and
people act and interact. technology.

5-8: Physical science: Properties and changes of properties of matter. A 5-8: Science in personal and social perspectives: Science and
substance has characteristic properties, such as density, a boiling point, technology in society. Technology influences society through its products
and solubility, all of which are independent of the amount of the sample. and processes. Technology influences the quality of life and the ways
people act and interact.
5-8: Physical science: Transfer of energy. Light interacts with matter by
transmission (including refraction), absorption, or scattering (including 5-8: Physical science: Transfer of energy. Energy is a property of many
reflection). substances and is associated with heat, light, electricity, mechanical
motion, sound, nuclei, and the nature of a chemical. Energy is transferred
5-8: Science as inquiry: Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific in many ways.
inquiry. Mathematics can be used to ask questions; to gather, organize,
and present data; and to structure convincing explanations. 5-8: Physical science: Transfer of energy. Electrical circuits provide a
means of transferring electrical energy when heat, light, sound, and
n Activity 2: Magnetic field around wire with compasses chemical changes are produced.
K-12: Unifying concepts and processes: Constancy, change and
measurement. Knowledge of mathematics is essential for accurate and
communicable measurement. Changes in systems can be quantified.
Mathematics is essential for accurately measuring change.