A Note for Teachers
When this unit was tested by playing the audio tapes and showing slides in high school classrooms, it proved too difficult for the students. So we did not develop it as we did the Fission and Optical Pulsar units. However, reading the central interview with J. Robert Schrieffer could be assigned as a short homework task (the other materials could serve as extra credit, or simply stimulation, for advanced students). Permission is granted to print it out and distribute copies if this is better for you than assigning online reading; note the pdf file. A class discussion or assigned essay could address such questions as:
- Is this how you thought theoretical physicists worked?
- How different do you think this is from the way Isaac Newton developed
his theories in the 17th century? What about 21st-century physicists—would
e-mail, for example, have changed how they work?
- What were the most important steps Bardeen took? [Discussion should
bring out both intellectual steps and social steps such as hiring and
- What did Cooper contribute? Schrieffer? Would anything have been different if they had been famous senior professors like Bardeen? [Discussion should explore both intellectual topics such as training in the latest theoretical techniques, and questions of personal interaction.]
Note also the Oak Ridge National Lab's Teacher's guide to superconductivity for high school students.