Research Matters

Research Matters

Adventures in Superconductivity

A new KU video project will feature young characters and their alter egos representing subatomic particles, whose adventures will teach concepts of electricity.

Episode #101

2 minutes (3.7 MB) | Download mp3


An animated video project will teach students the physics behind superconductors. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I’m Brendan Lynch.

Most young people have chatted on a cell phone, but how many of them know how energy relates to matter to make that call possible? Now, KU researchers are producing an animated video for elementary and middle school students to boost their understanding of superconductors and nanotechnology. The project is lead by a team that includes Teresa MacDonald, director of education at the KU Natural History Museum.

MacDonald: We know from the research that there’s a really poor understanding of how electricity works overall. People have a general idea that if you stick a plug in the wall, electricity comes out. But this video is intended to provide a basis of understanding of how electricity works, and how nanoscale engineering and material science can really improve the conductivity and efficiency of electricity.

The video project, entitled “Nanoscale: Adventures in Superconductivity,” will feature young characters and their alter egos representing subatomic particles, whose adventures will teach concepts of electricity.

MacDonald: Video is very accessible. People will look at things in a short video on a website or mobile phone, where they wouldn’t necessarily read a document or a book. It’s intended to be educational, but it also has a visual appeal and an entertainment value, which is important for reaching people.

The project aims to better students’ ability to conceptualize energy and nanoscale, which can be difficult to grasp.

“It’s not just children — the research shows that people’s misconceptions of scale and energy persist well into adulthood. It makes it difficult for people to reconcile the science with what they think about in everyday life. These seem to be difficult concepts, in part because you can’t see them. It’s a challenging subject, so one of the things we want to do with this video project is to change the way that energy is typically taught.”

For more about Nanoscale: Adventures in Superconductivity, log on to Research Matters dot KU dot EDU. For the University of Kansas, I’m Brendan Lynch.

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