Superconductivity WebQuest
An Internet WebQuest on Superconductivity

UniServe Science

Introduction | Task | The Process and Resources | HyperText Dictionary



Introduction

In 1911, Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes discovered that at 40K, the electrical resistance of mercury wire became zero and so discovered superconductivity. He immediately predicted many uses for superconductors.




Task

Your task (as a group) is to investigate superconductivity, the history of its discovery and the theory used to explain the phenomenon of superconductivity.

In small groups, or individually, you will investigate one of the following applications of superconductivity: transportation; power generation, storage and distribution; medicine; computer development; and other areas of science including geoscience and space science.

You will then need to look at the issue of whether superconductivity is a new state of matter.




The Process and Resources

In this WebQuest you will be working together with a group of students in class. Each group will answer the Task or Quest(ion). As a member of the group you will explore Webpages from people all over the world who are involved with Superconductivity. Because these are real Webpages we're tapping into, not things made just for schools, the reading level might challenge you. Feel free to use the online Webster dictionary or one in your classroom.

You'll begin with everyone in your group getting some background before dividing into roles where people on your team become experts on one part of the topic.

Phase 1 - Background: Something for Everyone

Use the Internet information linked below to answer the basic questions of who? what? where? when? why? and how? Be creative in exploring the information so that you answer these questions as fully and insightfully as you can.

The following statements may guide your investigation.
  1. Define superconductivity.
  2. Compare Type I and Type II superconductors.
  3. Construct a timeline for the discovery and development of superconductors and their application.
  4. Explain the BCS theory of superconductivity.
  5. Explain the Meissner effect.
  6. Define a Josephson Junction.
  7. Define a Coopers pair and a phonon.
  8. Identify five element/alloy superconductors and two metal oxide ceramic conductors
  9. Explain Tc

Phase 2 - Looking Deeper from Different Perspectives

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Individuals or pairs from your larger WebQuest team will explore one of the roles below.

2. Read through the files linked to your group. If you print out the files, underline the passages that you feel are the most important. If you look at the files on the computer, copy sections you feel are important by dragging the mouse across the passage and copying / pasting it into a word processor or other writing software.

3. Note: Remember to write down or copy/paste the URL of the file you take the passage from so you can quickly go back to it if you need to to prove your point and so that you can reference your sources in your bibliography.

Medical Researcher

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to medical research:

  1. Outline the use of superconductors in the area of medicine.
  2. Explain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  3. Explain how SQUIDs are used in medical imaging.
  4. Explain the benefits and limitations of using superconductors in medicine.

Transportation Engineer

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to transportation engineering:

  1. Outline the use of superconductors in the area of transportation.
  2. Explain Maglev trains.
  3. Explain the benefits and limitations of Maglev trains using superconductors.
  4. Outline proposed uses of superconductors in the area of transportation.

Computer Science Engineer

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to computer science engineering:

  1. Outline the use of superconductors in the area of computer development.
  2. Outline proposed uses of superconductors in the area of computer development.

Power Generation and Storage Engineer

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to power generation and power storage:

  1. Outline the use of superconductors in the area of power generation.
  2. Outline the use of superconductors in the area of power distribution.
  3. Outline the use of superconductors in the area of power storage.
  4. Outline proposed uses of superconductors in the area of power generation and storage.

Geoscientist and Space Scientist

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to geoscience, space science and related areas:

  1. Outline the use of superconductors in mining.
  2. Outline the use of superconductors in space research.
  3. Outline the use of superconductors in the area of communication.

Phase 3 - Debating, Discussing, and Reaching Consensus

You have all learned about a specific application of superconductivity.

Discuss the possible applications of superconductors in areas including computers, generators and motors, transmission of electricity through power grids.

Summarise the possible applications of superconductors in areas such as medicine, mining, geoscience and space research.




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