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Nobelprize.org - Bringing the Nobel Prize into the Classroom

The Nobel Prize, established in 1901, awards individuals for their distinguished work in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peacemaking. Named for Swedish scientist and inventor Alfred Nobel, the Nobel Prize is one of the most prestigious honors in the world.

In addition to providing information about the history of the prize and a record of past winners, Nobelprize.org provides educational opportunities, allowing users to participate in games and stimulations based on the work of Nobel Prize winners.

The Nobel Prize’s official site provides opportunities for teachers.

Who Was Alfred Nobel?

Educators may wish to begin by teaching students about the person who created the Nobel Prize in his last will and testament. Alfred Nobel specified that his fortune be used to reward individuals whose work benefitted humanity. The first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901.

There is a brief, student-friendly biography of Alfred Nobel.

Possibilities for Teachers and Students

The site contains 46 “productions” of which 29 are interactive games. Topics include areas in which the Nobel Prize is awarded, including Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Economics. Most of the productions also include suggestions for additional reading.
Star Stories, one of the Physics subtopics, includes a lengthy reading selection with photos and diagrams, as well as a video and a game which can be downloaded.

Star Stories is about the life cycle of stars.

Teachers of history and social studies can use the Democracy Map, one of the Peace-prize related productions, to teach students about governments around the world and how much political participation and civil freedom they allow their citizens. The lesson breaks countries into three categories: democratic, partly democratic and non-democratic. It includes a simulation map which illustrates which countries fall into which category.

An interactive map teaches students about democracy, and lack of, around the world .

Though the Nobel Prizes lean heavily towards the sciences, as do most of the site’s educational offerings, teachers of English may be intrigued by the site’s Find the Authors game. Though it’s one of the site’s less intellectually stimulating activities, it’s still a fun way for students to test their knowledge of Nobel-winning authors.

Students can play a word-find game about Nobel authors.

Pavlov’s Dog is a lighthearted possibility, giving users the opportunity to train a dog to drool on command. On a more serious note, teachers and students can read about the scientist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, whose groundbreaking work helped him with the Nobel Prize in 1904. Additional details about the game’s scientific basis are included also.

The Pavlov’s Dog game helps students learn about conditioned reflexes .

More Ideas for the Classroom

The site’s simulations aren’t the only academically relevant aspect of the Nobel organization’s site. Most recently, the site highlighted the work of women Nobel Prize winners, in honor of International Women’s Day. Marie Curie, a two-time winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics and Chemistry, is featured with a brief biography and an article about her contributions to science. She is one of several women who is spotlighted on the site.

Marie Curie is one of the prominent women featured on the site.

Finally, the site includes a questionnaire for teachers, intended to allow them to give the Nobel organization constructive feedback, which can be done anonymously.

Teachers have the opportunity to provide feedback.

The Nobel Prize’s web site has good potential for teachers of secondary students, and give teachers some great ideas to help them bring lots of award-winning ideas to life.

Written June 14, 2013 by Stacy Zeiger

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