A16, Level 4
Students describe one of the basic tenets of special relativity
such as time dilation, length contraction, the space-time continuum,
or The Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy.
Key Concepts and
- Geocentricity, heliocentricity
- Personal histories of early astronomers (i.e. Copernicus, Galileo)
- Special Relativity
- Personal history of present-day cosmologists (i.e. Einstein,
By treating relativity historically in high school, it is possible
to avoid falling into the trap of trying to teach (Special Relativitys)
technical and mathematical details. The main goals should be for
students to see that Einstein went beyond Newtons world
view by including it as a limiting case in a more complete theory.
(from Benchmarks, p. 245)
This unit starts with a debate about accepted facts and ends
with a mock trial of Galileo that includes input from the present
day cosmologists, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
- Access to computers and Internet
- Library resources
- Guidelines for debate (language arts book) and mock trial
Tell the students that is a fact that the earth is flat. Challenge
them to prove that it is not. (See attached lists for historical
arguments for and against). As debate slows also say that the
earth doesnt turn. Continue to stir up the debate. The students
should leave the room debating each other and arrive in class
the next day with a proof that the earth is round and spins.
Listening skills, being able to validate others opinions,
In cooperative groups, assign one of the following to research:
Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Tycho Brache, Albert
Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride. Use all
research avenues available, including Internet. Students should
find out the personal history of the scientist as well as the
major contributions to science and society.
Research skills, use of the Internet, web page analysis, working
in cooperative groups, etc.
Invite Elders to share beliefs and legends related to topic.
Have students develop a timeline, including the results of the
previous research. The timeline should include names and important
contributions, tracing the development of the geocentric view
to the heliocentric view. In the development of the principles,
it is very important that the societal context of the era be emphasized.
Hold a mock trial of Galileo that includes Ptolemy, Copernicus,
Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brache, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein,
Stephen Hawking, Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride as witnesses. The
Copernican Revolution illustrates some of the strains that can
occur between science and society when science proposes ideas
that seem to violate common sense or to undermine traditional
values and beliefs. This part of the story should be included
but not presented as the triumph of right over wrong or of science
over religion. (from Benchmarks, p. 240
Level of Performance
|| Student actively participates in mock trial and demonstrates
mastery of the historical-viewpoint appropriate to his / her character
or position within the courtroom. Student work is complete, correct
and shows evidence of clear and logical reasoning.
|| Student actively participates in mock trial and demonstrates
knowledge of the historical-viewpoint appropriate to his / her character
or position within the courtroom. Student work shows evidence of clear
and logical reasoning but may contain minor errors or omissions.
| Student reluctantly participates in mock trial and
demonstrates limited knowledge of the historical-viewpoint appropriate
to his / her character or position within the courtroom. Student work
may be incomplete, incorrect and may contain errors of science fact
Student may be a non-participant in mock trial. Student work is
largely incomplete, incorrect, shows little evidence of understanding
and may contain major misconceptions.
Department of Education & Early Development Standards)
The nuclear forces that hold the nucleus of an atom together,
at nuclear distances, are usually stronger than the electric forces
that would make it fly apart. Nuclear reactions convert a fraction
of the mass of interacting particles into energy, and they can
release much greater amounts of energy than atomic interactions.
Fission is the splitting of a large nucleus into smaller pieces.
Fusion is the joining of two nuclei at extremely high temperature
and pressure, and is the process responsible for the energy of
the sun and other stars. (Pg. 178)
The total energy of the universe is constant. Energy can be
transferred by collisions in chemical and nuclear reactions, by
light waves and other radiations, and in many other ways. However,
it can never be destroyed. As these transfers occur, the matter
involved becomes steadily less ordered. (Pg. 180)
Occasionally, there are advances in science, and technology
that have important and long-lasting effects on science and society.
Examples of such advances include the following: Relativity (etc.)
As a young man, Albert Einstein, a German scientist, formulated
the special Theory of Relativity, which brought about revolutionary
changes in human understanding of nature. A decade later, he proposed
the general Theory of Relativity, which, along with Newtons
work, ranks as one of the greatest human accomplishments in all
of history. (Pg. 245)
Among the surprising ideas of special relativity is that nothing
can travel faster than the speed of light, which is the same for
all observers no matter how they or the light source happen to
be moving. (Pg. 245)
The special Theory of Relativity is best known for stating that
any form of energy has mass, and that matter itself is a form
of energy. The famous relativity equation, E = mc2, holds that
the transformation of even a tiny amount of matter will release
an enormous amount of other forms of energy, in that the c in
the equation stands for the immense speed of light. (Pg. 245)
General relativity theory pictures Newtons gravitational
force as a distortion of space and time. (Pg. 245)
Many predictions from Einsteins Theory of Relativity have
been confirmed on both atomic and astronomical scales. , the search
continues for an even more powerful theory of the architecture
of the universe. (Pg. 245)
The basic idea of mathematical modeling is to find a mathematical
relationship that behaves in the same ways as the objects or processes
under investigation. A mathematical model may give insight about
how something really works or may fit observations very well without
any intuitive meaning. (Pg. 270)
Alaska Science Content
Standard Key Element
student who meets the content standard should understand basic concepts
about the Theory of Relativity, which changed the view of the universe
by uniting matter and energy and by linking time with space (Relativity).
Content and Performance Standards: A3, C3, C5, C6, C7.
Cultural Standard A1