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ERIC Number: EJ758677
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Dec
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0036-8555
Inside the Black Box
Kao, Yvonne S.; Cina, Anthony; Gimm, J. Aura
Science Teacher, v73 n9 p46-49 Dec 2006
Scientists often have to observe and study surfaces that are impossible or impractical to see directly, such as the ocean floor or the atomic surfaces of objects. Early in the history of oceanography scientists dropped weighted cables to the bottom of the ocean. By moving across the ocean at regular intervals and keeping track of how deep the cables went, the scientists produced a rough map of the ocean floor. Nowadays, scientists can calculate how deep the ocean is at any point by sending sound waves from a ship to the ocean floor and keeping track of how long it takes for the sound waves to return to the ship. The black box activity described in this article, created as part of the National Science Foundation--funded Internships in Public Science Education Program at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, introduces students to the idea of remote imaging and scanning probe microscopy. The activity can be incorporated into chemistry or other physical science classes to meet content standards on the structure and properties of matter, and technological design. Students use a probe to collect data about a mystery landscape inside a "black box" and then use the data to build a marshmallow model of the contents of the box. This article is based on materials available on the "Exploring the Nanoworld" website under the heading "How can we see what we cannot see?" The activity was initially developed as part of the authors' Research Experience for Teachers program. (Contains 3 figures.)
National Science Teachers Association. 1840 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201-3000. Tel: 800-722-6782; Fax: 703-243-3924; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: Students; Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Wisconsin