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Absolute Zero

Viewing Ideas

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Before Watching

  1. Have students brainstorm all the things and places they can think of that are cold. List these on the board. Assign groups to research temperatures of some of these items, including the coldest place on Earth. When they are done, create a temperature line that spans 25 degrees C to -273.16 degrees C (absolute zero). Have students put their items on the temperature line and note how far their items are from absolute zero.

  2. Science is a human endeavor undertaken by many individuals of various backgrounds. Organize students into seven groups. As they watch the program, have each group take notes on the following scientists:

    1. Robert Boyle and Guillaume Amontons
    2. Antoine Lavoisier and Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford)
    3. Michael Faraday
    4. Sadi Carnot, James Joule, and William Thompson (Lord Kelvin)
    5. James Dewar and Heike Kamerlingh Onnes
    6. Eric Cornell, Carl Wieman, Wolfgang Ketterle, and Daniel Kleppner

    Students should record each scientist's nationality, whether the scientist worked alone or with others, what each did to further the science of cold, and the tools each used.


After Watching

  1. Have each group present information about its scientist(s). What did each scientist learn? What tools were available to each scientist? How did scientists share information in each time period? What role did competition play in advancing science?

  2. Ask students what they would do if they did not have refrigerators. How has refrigeration changed people's lives? In what other ways has the ability to control cold been important to society?

Teacher's Guide
Absolute Zero
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