Superconductivity is a fascinating and challenging field of physics. Scientists and engineers throughout the world have been striving to develop an understanding of this remarkable phenomenon for many years. For nearly 75 years superconductivity has been a relatively obscure subject. Until recently, because of the cryogenic requirements of low-temperature superconductors, superconductivity at the high school level was merely an interesting topic occasionally discussed in a physics class.Today however, superconductivity is being applied to many diverse areas such as: medicine, theoretical and experimental science, the military, transportation, power production, electronics, as well as many other areas. With the discovery of high-temperature superconductors, which can operate at liquid nitrogen temperatures (77 K), superconductivity is now well within the reach of high school students. Unique and exciting opportunities exist today for our students to explore and experiment with this new and important technological field of physics.

The materials in this handbook have been designed to help high school students better understand the basic concepts of superconductivity. This booklet discusses the history, physics, chemistry, and applications of superconductors.Instruction for several simple demonstrations and experiments, as well as safety considerations are included. This booklet has been prepared to serve as an introduction to superconductivity for students with diverse backgrounds and interests.Additional information may be obtained by individual students through various articles and books listed at the end of this booklet.

I hope this material will provide both teachers and students with a good starting point to explore the mysterious world of superconductivity.

From the moment your students become entranced by observing a simple levitated magnet, to when they ask, "how does it work," and speculate what it can be used for, scientific inquiry has begun. Students' curiosities will be limited only by their imagination. The teacher need only move out of their way and let the minds of the future take over.

Date posted 04/01/96 (ktb)