1999 GIFT ACTION PLAN

MIKE LANHAM

Sprayberry High School

2525 Sandy Plains Rd.

Marietta, GA 30066

(770) 509-6111

mlanham@mindspring.com

http://mlanham.home.mindspring.com

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: Hey! That's me!

 

 

Needs Assessment

 

Courses Targeted:

Physical Science

Physics

Sprayberry High School Science Department Goals:

  1. To reduce the failure rate of students in science classes
  2. To improve strand scores and increase the passing rate on the science portion of the exit exam
  3. To increase student attendance
  4. To increase scores on the SAT II and ACT

 

Personal Goals and Vision of the Classroom:

It is my philosophy that in order to be effective teacher, I must first be a creative facilitator for student-based learning. The key is to offer a safe learning environment in which students can discover and use classroom and outside resources, sufficiently communicate and actively participate in their own learning experience. It is also imperative to provide contemporary scientific problems and solutions to make relevant contributions to the education of the student. It benefits the student to be flexible enough to implement changes in curriculum due to changes in current scientific principles and techniques as well as in response to the evaluation of the abilities of the student.

In order to carry my philosophy into the classroom I must:

  1. Initiate experiences that will most likely motivate the learner.
  2. Research and implement the most current and prominent ways in which to structure teaching in the most efficient and effective way to impart knowledge.
  3. Understand the subject matter enough so as to implement the best sequence in which to present material.
  4. Be knowledgeable in feedback and assessment implementation so that instruction can be strategically modified.

Personal Goals and Objectives for the GIFT Program:

  1. Enhance and enrich the science curriculum in my classroom and the classrooms of fellow teachers through the aid of introducing the most current and fascinating theories and technologies into current studies.
  2. Prepare students for future work by supplying examples of current fieldwork and study in the area of science careers.
  3. Develop future opportunities for student resources such as online access to real experimental theory and data, working contacts in higher education and hands-on understanding of the concepts and studies with which our contacts in higher education are involved.

Major Student Needs Related to Specific Curricula:

  1. Motivation to take control of personal future. (Personal life, college, career)
  2. Technique and skill in the areas of scientific method, safety and use of resources (i.e., experience in order to lead to an intuitiveness about such things)
  3. Improved critical thinking in experiment design and implementation.
  4. Improved interaction during scientific inquiry processes in the classroom and laboratory.

Things to Change About My Teaching Methods:

  1. More emphasis on current science and technology career choices.
  2. Less Talk, More Do!
  3. Allow science to feel more like a human endeavor than a complicated process for the privileged. (Show human side of discovery, research, triumphs, tragedies and the agony of defeat: atomic bomb, Galileo, Einstein, Feynman, Curie, etc.)

Things I Want to Learn this Summer:

  1. More about the use of computers in scientific research applications.
  2. Applied quantum, particle and solid-state physics.
  3. A simple, yet detailed explanation of semi conductors.

Concepts I Would Like to Teach Better or Differently:

  1. Electricity and Magnetism: More time, devices and hands-on experience.
  2. Instead of just telling students about careers in science and technology, let them discover careers that interest them by researching jobs on the Internet and interviewing scientists and "technologists".

Equity and Expectations Related to Ethnicity, Gender, Socioeconomic and

differently-abled Students.

  1. Regardless of ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, under and over abled students, I want students to respectfully know one thing:
  2. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!

  3. Teach students to treat and regard themselves and others equally and fairly.

 

Constraints:

  1. The self-doubt and apathy students have of themselves and their ability to succeed. This is a large obstacle to overcome.
  2. Time (Luckily, time doesn’t exist!)
  3. Money (Unfortunately, time is money!)

Opportunities

  1. Field Trip! Plans are underway for my physics students to participate in an on campus field trip in which they can experience a college classroom, first-rate research facility and see demonstrations and equipment that is not possible in the classroom.
  2. Two labs: Chemical vapor deposition of fools gold in a coffee pot and Using a green laser to stimulate a red laser response in a piece of advanced semiconductor.
  3. Real time access to growth and characterization data of experiments in the molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) group.

Figure 2: Field Trip!

 

Work Experience Summary

 

spent the summer working with my mentor, Dr. April Brown, on the campus of Georgia Tech Microelectronics Research Center (MiRC). My mentor has the incredible everyday job of making entirely new types of semiconductors: semiconductors that haven't even begun to enter the marketplace; semiconductors that are so fast we're waiting for more up-to-date techniques for measuring their speed. To my mentor, silicon based semiconductors seem old fashioned. My mentor’s research group gets to do things that have never been done. They’ve never been done before because they’re working with things of their own creation. The end result will be faster computer chips for use in telecommunications as well as computer systems on military aircraft. These chips will be able to operate at such high temperatures that the weight of the airplane can be reduced by as much as 25% because the computers will not need cooling systems. "In both her academic and industrial research, Dr. Brown's focus has been on understanding, designing, and fabricating compound semiconductor-based electronic devices. Her efforts have resulted in over 120 publications and presentations, two patents, and five invention disclosures." (From http://news-info.gatech.edu/html/news_releases/aprilbrown.html)

I got to spend lots of time in the lab observing, asking questions, listening and participating in the most amazing discussions. I got to see the surfaces of semiconductors at the level of the atom. I got to "see" atoms and talk to the people that made the images. Of course the phrase "to see atoms" is used rather loosely! There is also something exciting about working around things like arsenic compounds, liquid nitrogen and plasma sources or equipment that was largely handmade and cost around one million dollars for each machine! It's an understatement to say that I learned a lot this summer. Actually, I felt like a kid that got to spend an entire summer in the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory.

Figure 3: My version of the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory! The Nitride MBE is in the foreground.

The current trend in the field of solid state physics is away from silicon based semiconductors. Silicon semiconductors have nearly outlived their usefulness. (They cannot handle high frequency, high temperature applications needed in today’s electronics.) One aim of Dr. Brown’s research is at developing a p-type gallium 3-5 based semiconductor that can handle extremely high frequencies and temperatures. Gallium is an element that is very near silicon in chemical and crystalline properties. The numbers 3-5 refers to groups three and five of the periodic table. The structure of these semiconductors is that of gallium compounds made up from groups three and five on the periodic table. These gallium compounds can be combined and grouped in an infinite number of combinations. Each chip is made from layering of different compounds. The layering or growth process can be done by the thickness of several atoms at a time.

The conceptual process of making a semiconductor is actually very simply. The closest analogy would be simple experiments such as growing crystals or making rock candy, hence, the term "growing semiconductors." The place at which the semiconductor first begins growth is on what is called the substrate. A substrate is simply a desirable (or undesirable) crystalline surface on which to begin growth. Common substrates include silicon wafers, sapphire (a type of glass) and several types of diamond. Crystalline refers to the order in which the atoms of a material are placed. Crystalline structures can be as simple as a cube or as complex as several sided interlocking polygons. As individual or groups of atoms adhere to a surface of a substrate they mimic the crystalline form. If one wishes to make a semiconductor with a complex crystalline structure such as that of diamond, one would start with a diamond substrate. When finished, the substrate usually remains attached to the semiconductor as a mount. The substrate can be used to affect the overall performance of the semiconductor. For example, diamond is a very good electrical insulator but an extremely good thermal conductor. For this reason, a diamond substrate can help a chip operate at cooler temperatures. Unfortunately a diamond substrate, if I remember these values correctly, costs around six thousand dollars for a wafer, whereas a silicon wafer costs around eighty dollars. There are several ways to grow semiconductors. The method being used by Dr. Brown is molecular beam epitaxy (MBE).

Molecular beam epitaxy is a method in which the crystalline structure of the semiconductor is grown using beams of molecular gases such as phosphorus, arsenic and indium. The layering of substances is controlled on the order of microns. It is a very detailed and expensive process, so my participation has only been limited to observation. The basic idea is to heat a metal to the point that it either boils or vaporizes. Once the metal is in a gaseous form it is directed in a beam towards the substrate. (This is the source for the term "molecular beam".) The molecular beam can be turned on and off with a shutter just after the evaporators. Each evaporator on the MBE costs around ten thousand dollars! It is desirable to do this process in a vacuum so that there are no contaminates and so that they molecular beam can reach the target unhindered. The vacuum in the growth chamber is on the order of 10-13 Torr. Atmospheric pressure is approximately 760 torr. This pressure is equivalent to the deepest, most remote regions of space. At this pressure a gas particle can travel several meters before it may collide with an air particle.

Figure 4: Part of the MBE. The cylinders that seem to come from the big metal dome are the evaporators.

In order to achieve such an extreme vacuum at least four different types of vacuum pump systems are used. One such system is the cryogenic vacuum pump. This pump works by creating a surface that is so cold that any gas particle colliding with the plate loses most of its kinetic energy and sticks to the plate. In this fashion particles are removed from the growth area. Another technique for containing contaminants is to periodically coat the interior of the MBE with titanium before the substrate is introduced. Titanium is one of the, if not the, stickiest materials. Introducing a titanium vapor into the MBE causes contaminants, especially oxygen, to stick to the titanium, which then coats the exterior walls of the chamber. More vaporized titanium is introduced to cover this layer.

Metal gaskets are used to ensure a proper seal. These metals gaskets are usually made of soft materials that have sharp edges. When the gaskets are brought together under pressure they mesh together to form a tight seal. Some of the gaskets resemble a slinky with the coils welded together. These types of gaskets allow flexible joints for alignment and calibrations. So, what happens when there is a leak in the vacuum? When the instruments detect a leak in the vacuum system, a detailed, yet simple process is carried out. A trash bag filled with helium is used to cover one section of the MBE. Since helium is a very small particle, it can pass through very small openings. (Helium balloons don't last very long because the helium quickly effuses through the microscopic openings of the balloon.) If helium is detected in the system you know that you are in the right part of the machine. To narrow down the search, the trash bag is made to cover fewer and fewer seals. When the seal with the leak is found, a hypodermic needle filled with helium is used to find out exactly where the leak is. Most of the time the fix involves tightening a bolt or two.

Figure 5: Always read warning labels twice!

There are many precautions that I had to follow when working in the lab. The entire lab is actually a cleanroom. In order to enter the cleanroom, I had to wear a special suit that was meant to keep dust from entering the work environment. Since most dust comes from shed human skin, the suit was protecting the equipment from me rather than protecting me from the equipment. It took almost a week before I could put the suit on with ease. It resembled a jump suit that went on over my clothes, followed by special boots that went on over my shoes. I had to wear a surgical mask, rubber gloves and a hood. The cleanroom is kept under positive pressure, which means the air pressure in the cleanroom was always slightly higher than the outside air. This meant that an open door would create a draft of air flowing out of the cleanroom. The change in air pressure did cause my ears some pain during a slight cold. Other then protecting the equipment, I had to be very careful not to hurt others or myself. The lab was filled with lines carrying liquid nitrogen (LN2). The structure of the LN2 lines was really cool! (Pun intended!) At the center of the lines was a small tube that carried the LN2. In between this tube and the shell of the lines was a vacuum that was constantly maintained by vacuum pumps. This vacuum acts as an insulator to keep the LN2 from boiling from the air temperature. It is also very handy in keeping people from getting third degree burns from touching metal that is cooled by LN2. Another danger was the fact that one of the machines uses a dangerous form of phosphorus called white phosphorus. White phosphorus is a crystal form of phosphorus that reacts explosively with air. A phosphorus cracker mechanism is used to change the white phosphorus into a much more stable red phosphorus structure. If there were white phosphorus in the MBE, a flare-up or explosion would occur when the machine was opened (which has happened in the past).

Figure 6: Liquid nitrogen supply lines come from the ceiling like cyber snakes.

Dr. Brown is developing another technique for growing semiconductors. I can't remember the name, and I can only mention a few brief details as Dr. Brown is hoping to secure a patent with this process. This process uses gaseous compounds to bring metals to the surface of the semiconductor. These are hazardous to the human body so most of the system will be contained in a Plexiglas unit. The valves and various controls will be manipulated through the use of a glove system. An intense form of energy will release the metals from the gaseous compounds so that they may bind onto the semiconductor surface.

This is only a portion of what I learned this summer! As you can see, every step of the process involves an area of science all by itself. In order to understand the basic concepts of the processes involved in making semiconductors, I have had many conversations with the people working in the group as well as some background reading. Dr. Brown’s group is currently attempting at least two types of growth that have never been done before (and maybe never dreamed of before!) Listening to new ideas in science and research is exhilarating!

The main project that I was involved with was to build a database system for storage, manipulation and retrieval and to provide further analytical abilities to the volumes and volumes of data that are accumulated by the group. (The data will eventually accumulate to many gigabytes.) I thought it was very generous for someone to offer a project like this to someone who is very experienced in computers, but not at all experienced in database systems. Up to this point, almost all of the data collected (on nearly 500 experiments) has been recorded on paper. Some of the characterization data was in text form on floppy disk, which was then imported into MS-Excel documents so the data could be analyzed in a graphical manner. After looking over all of the data entry forms and methods of data collection, I began my work on the database. The decision to use MS-Access was made because of the widespread use of MS products and the ability to link with MS Excel, which was already the main method of computer storage and analyzing.

It was my job to plan, develop and implement the database system from the ground up. The requirements included an easy to use interface, the ability to do searches based on specific criteria and to hopefully allow a venue with which to make the data available to Dr. Brown's colleagues and my students. During this process I found that I exceeded the original expectations and discovered a fairly strong streak of perfectionism in myself. One of the things I cannot stand is using software that is difficult for the end user because of thoughtlessness on the part of the programmer. I am still not entirely pleased with the way everything is integrated, but I'd have to admit that it's a pretty good job for having done it in eight weeks. The database allows Dr. Brown's assistants and graduate students to enter, sort and analyze data from the LAN or the Internet. In order to make the database available on the Internet I had to setup a simple web server on a Windows NT machine. This was my first attempt at installing and configuring Windows NT and at setting up a web server on any sort of Wintel machine. (It was far more complex and counter-intuitive than setting up a web server on a Macintosh!)

The real beauty of this experience was that I was constantly able to bridge my observations to applications in the classroom. The GIFT program has given me the resources to really begin to use the textbook as a supplement rather than as the main focus. It will allow me to draw on current scientific research that reinforces the fundamental concepts found in the textbook. We are already planning on a field trip to the lab and are setting up some classroom activities that accurately demonstrate the research in the lab.

But what has the GIFT program done for my teaching technique and for my students? It's often been said that children learn better by doing -- that they learn by their own actions. If a teacher's background has been learned by reading, how much more difficult will it be for that teacher to teach by a method of action? By doing? GIFT has given me an opportunity to go out and do the things I've only read about. GIFT has provided an opportunity to see the subject material from a unique personal perspective - one that makes sense to me - enough so that I can bring a real sense of scientific thought and accomplishment directly into the classroom.

 

 

 

 

Portfolio

MS-Access based database system:

My main project was to plan, design and implement a database system that allowed the user to store, organize, retrieve and analyze several gigabytes of advanced scientific data.

Figure 7: Data Entry Form

 

 

Figure 8: Growth Log

 

Figure 9: A form that allows the attachment of images.

 

Figure 10: A form that allows the attachment of MS-Excel files.

 

Figure 11: A data entry form accessed over the web.

 

Windows NT based Web Server for the database:

In order to make the database accessible over the Internet I had to setup a web server on a new Windows NT machine: http://joshuatree.mirc.gatech.edu/. (Note: in order to access the database, you must have Internet Explorer 5.x and Access 2000. The database is password protected. At this time I'm not sure exactly how much or even how the data will be made available to the general public.)

 

Pictures and Information:

Using a digital camera, I was able to take many pictures of the labs and equipment that worked around. A small web page for these photographs and QuickTime Virtual Reality panoramas is located at http://mlanham.home.mindspring.com/GIFT99/pictures.html.

 

Software and Materials:

Dr. Brown emphasized the fact that she wanted my students to be able to view data from the database so that the students could see the process of current "real" scientific research. In order to view the database, I will be given a copy of MS-Office 2000 for use in the classroom. I hope to use Access and Excel for collaboration of data from several classes.

Dr. Brown's group will be growing a red LED semiconductor that can activated with a green helium-neon laser. I will also be given some samples of "failed" semiconductors to show the students what they look like before they ever go into a computer.

 

GIFT Banquet Speech:

I was asked to give a 2-3 minute speech at the GIFT end of summer banquet. It turned out to be very successful. The dean of the college of engineering asked for a copy of my speech so that he might reference it in a publication or two! Here is a copy of the speech:

Hi! My name is Mike Lanham, and I’m a science teacher at Sprayberry High School in Marietta. I’d like to share with you my extraordinary experience with the GIFT program this summer and, most importantly, how this experience will help me to be a more effective teacher.

I spent the summer in the microelectronics research center on the Georgia Tech campus working with a materials growth research group. My mentor has the incredible everyday job of making entirely new types of semiconductors: semiconductors that haven't even begun to enter the marketplace; semiconductors that are so fast we're waiting for more up-to-date techniques for measuring their speed. To my mentor, silicon based semiconductors seem old fashioned. My mentor’s research group gets to do things that have never been done. They’ve never been done before because they’re working with things of their own creation. The end result will be faster computer chips for use in telecommunications as well as computer systems on military aircraft. These chips will be able to operate at such high temperatures that the weight of the airplane can be reduced by as much as 25% because the computers will not need cooling systems. 

I got to spend lots of time in the lab observing, asking questions, listening and participating in the most amazing discussions. I got to see the surfaces of semiconductors at the level of the atom. I got to "see" atoms and talk to the people that made the images. Of course the phrase "to see atoms" is used rather loosely!

There is also something exciting about working around things like arsenic compounds, liquid nitrogen and plasma sources or equipment that was largely handmade and cost around one million dollars for each machine! It's an understatement to say that I learned a lot this summer. Actually, I felt like a kid that got to spend an entire summer in the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory.

But the real beauty of this experience was that I was constantly able to bridge my observations to applications in the classroom. The GIFT program has given me the resources to really begin to use the textbook as a supplement rather than as the main focus. It will allow me to draw on current scientific research that reinforces the fundamental concepts found in the textbook. We are already planning on a field trip to the lab and are setting up some classroom activities that accurately demonstrate the research in the lab.

But what has the GIFT program done for my teaching technique and for my students?

It's often been said that children learn better by doing -- that they learn by their own actions. If a teacher's background has been learned by reading, how much more difficult will it be for that teacher to teach by a method of action? By doing? GIFT has given me an opportunity to go out and do the things I've only read about. GIFT has provided an opportunity to see the subject material from a unique personal perspective - one that makes sense to me - enough so that I can bring a real sense of scientific thought and accomplishment directly into the classroom.

I was lucky enough to participate in an exciting summer research program and look forward to taking what I’ve learned and applying it to the classroom. GIFT has allowed me to give.

 

 

Classroom Implementation Plan

 

Teaching and Learning Goals:

Since I was constantly able to bridge my observations to applications in the classroom I can begin to really begin to use the textbook as a supplement rather than as the main focus. I can draw on current scientific research that reinforces the fundamental concepts found in the textbook. I have been given me an opportunity to go out and do the things I've only read about. I've had an opportunity to see the subject material from a unique personal perspective - one that makes sense to me - enough so that I can bring a real sense of scientific thought and accomplishment directly into the classroom. I can allow my students to learn based on experiments brought about by their own inquiry.

 

Classroom Implementation:

Long term strategies:

Figure 12: There are some demonstrations that just can't be done in the classroom!

 

Evaluation Plan:

Indicators:

Assessment Tools:

 

 

Figure 13: Please Do Not Feed The Animals.

 

Communication Plan

Figure 14: Can you spot the Scanning Tunneling Electron Microscope in this sound proof chamber? There are LOTS of things that can't be done in the classroom! I can't wait for this field trip!