Model experiments and analogies for teaching Einsteinian energy

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The connections between light, matter, and energy are central to Einsteinian physics education in the age of renewable energy and modern technologies. Using activities, models, and analogies for presenting modern physics in the classroom is effective in helping students understand challenging topics. This paper describes three classroom activities designed to explore the physics behind a beautiful experiment that measured an atom’s mass increase when it absorbs a single photon and its mass reduction when a photon is emitted. The experiment demonstrates the direct link between E = mc2 and E = hf. Classroom math problems linked to the experiment use the powers of 10 to explore the large and small numbers associated with the physical concepts. The lesson we developed as part of the Einsteinian energy curriculum for year 8 students as part of the Einstein-first project in Australia, which aims to design and implement Einsteinian physics curricula for schools.

Original languageEnglish
Article number015003
JournalPhysics Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


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