Quantum Locking & Supplies

My girlfriend just sent me this video:

It’s apparently a phenomenon called quantum locking — super-cool a substance in liquid nitrogen, put it in a magnetic field, and see what happens.

Can this experiment be performed in a Design Thinking Lab like the one that I’ve got at school? What would it take to do it?

My colleague in the science department is building Newton’s Third Law Vehicles with his students.  The Third Law says that for ever action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  So a Third Law Vehicle gets pushed up against a wall to ‘charge’ the springs, and then the springs bounce the vehicle away from the wall in the opposite direction. He’s discovering that the real challenge is that his kids need materials, and tools: drills, saws, bits of wood, springs, and more such supplies.

Where are they going to come from?  Who pays for them?  Where will they be stored?  How can they be separated from this year’s vehicles and saved for next year’s vehicles?

When it comes to design, these are not inconsequential questions.  All these materials cost money and they take up space.  Making use of materials and tools is critical.  As Giambattista Vico, my favorite Renaissance Italian diplomat, said, “We only know what we make.”  Kids who make Newtonian Third Law vehicles are going to know the Third Law of Motion.  Kids who build Quantum Levitation devices are going to understand quantum effects (even if they don’t understand quantum mechanics, exactly… but then, nobody does).

But schools that adopt this Design Thinking have a serious challenge:  what tools and supplies do we need?  And where will we store them? And how?

It’s this question I’m wrestling with, this week.  Our facilities director and I installed a bookshelf this morning, one salvaged from a nearby Borders Books that went out of business in the bankruptcy. Their old shelves have become our school library’s new shelves.  There’s some poetic justice in that.  But still… what supplies do we need, and how and where will we store them, and for how long do we need them?

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