The Next Frontier

Journal Thread #1 / Prompt 5 - Why Does It Matter?

Step into the shoes of a researcher and consider how the opportunity to use standards based on universal constants could expand and deepen your investigations, making previous discoveries even more profound.

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Title of Activity: Journal Thread #1 / Prompt 5 - Why Does It Matter?

Brief Description: Students reflect on the potential of new standards to enhance innovation.

Target Grade Level: Grades 8-12

Discipline or Course: Physical Science

Estimated Time Required: One 45-minute session in combination with video segment from The Last Artifact

Individual / Partner / Group Work: Individual

Key Vocabulary:

  • Constant
  • Standard
  • Innovation

Teacher Prep:

Expect students to reflect in three different ways:

  • First, students should be able to identify a specific measurement and constant use as standards for the research they choose.
  • Students should indicate a recognition that accuracy of the measurements increases with the new standards.
  • Students may recognize that the repeated research will either a) increase the ability of the researchers to communicate information with research partners, or the potential to coordinate with future research projects because the standard is a constant.

Possible Rubric

Area Novice Average Advanced
Identifying measurements and constants Response lacks an identification of a specific measurement and constant Response includes a mention of a measurement but not the constant used now as a standard Response includes mention of a measurement and a constant
Recognition of importance of constants No clear discussion of accuracy, or confusion with precision. Vague or inconsistent mention of accuracy or precision. Clear explanation of the importance of constants in increasing accuracy and the potential for better measurements
Importance of constants in research No description of how the research would now be different. Description of differences in research protocols, not clearly related to accuracy. Clear explanation of how the new standards would improve either communication or future research.


Watch the segment from The Last Artifact.

The Last Artifact - The Next Frontier

Now that you’ve followed the progress of metrology over the last decade, you have a deeper understanding of how this science supports research and innovation.

Imagine you are a researcher in one of the following fields. A decade ago you completed a research with some significant results. But like most research efforts, it also left interesting new questions.

Now you have the opportunity to repeat your research. Think about how it would be different now that you have the opportunity to use standards based on universal constants. Will it be more accurate? Will it provide more statistically significant results? Will it open up even more interesting questions?

While your old research was done in your own lab, you are now proposing to work with two other teams in different countries.

Write two paragraphs of your application for new grant funding:

        It will be important to repeat the research because…

        New measurement standards will increase the potential of this research to…

Choose from one of these topics for your final journal entry:

  • Astronomical measurements of distant, potentially inhabitable planets
  • Medical studies of the action of (electrical) potential at the neuromuscular junctions in human myasthenia gravis patients
  • Environmental studies of the effects of weed killers released in Florida on coral in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Effects of atmospheric dust storms on the persistence of hurricanes in the Atlantic
  • Comparison of the effectiveness of various models of solar panels