Next week, March 14th, is Albert Einstein’s birthday. Your students may know very little about him, apart from his signature hair. It’s also probably several years before they learn about physics and the theory of relativity. No matter the age you teach, you can spark your students’ interest early by introducing the life of this theoretical physicist. Here’s a guide to related different Kids Discover Units and cross-curricular activities for a day full of Atoms, Matter, and Energy.
Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany in 1879. He emigrated to the United States as a refugee in 1933 to escape Nazi-occupied Germany. He is one of the countless immigrants who helped greatly shape our country through their work. After your students read our Immigration Unit, have your students research the Illustrious Immigrants included throughout the Topics, Alexander Graham Bell, Madeleine Albright, and of course, Albert Einstein.
In discussing the equation for energy E = mc2, our Atoms Unit explains that c2 stands for the speed of light times itself, or 34,596,000,000 miles per second. Challenge students to find the speed of light based on this information.
Have students build models of atoms. Tell students to choose an element from our Periodic Table Topic, find out about its structure, and create a model or diagram. Encourage students to label their model and write a short description of the element.
Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity had a huge role in harnessing atomic energy, but is atomic energy safe? Is it a practical means of meeting energy needs? Ask students to debate the issue. After they read some of the Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy as an energy source, encourage students to decide where they stand on the issue. Ask them to prepare for a debate. They should establish teams for each side of the argument, research information supporting their viewpoints, and present their ideas in a debate format.
World History, Geography
In our Nuclear, Solar, and Geothermal Energy Topic (from the Energy Unit), students learn that a horrible nuclear disaster occurred at Chernobyl in the former USSR (now Ukraine) in 1986. Have students research what happened during this disaster, how large an area was affected, and what the long-term effects have been. Students can also locate Ukraine on a map or globe. If possible, show students an old map that has the USSR on it, and have students compare the map with a modern one.