(2020) INTED 5240-5243

  • 02-04/03/2020
    Not only a charge: involving students in the oil drop experiment
    Roberto Mazzola, Lucia Zucchelli, Matteo Bozzi, Maurizio Zani
    INTED, XIV International Technology, Education and Development Conference (Valencia – Spain)
    Atti 5240-5243 (2020) [ISBN 978-84-09-08619-1, ISSN 2340-1079] – doi 10.21125/inted.2020.1419



An activity about the Millikan oil drop experiment is proposed to a group of 17-years-old students attending Liceo Scientifico opzione scienze applicate at the “IIS J. C. Maxwell” school located in Milan (Italy). The students were involved in some laboratory activities, cooperative working and whole class sessions guided by some teacher’s questions. The classes are asked to be involved in the solution of a complex problem, starting from the experimental study of the motion of a body in a viscous fluid until facing the problem of the measurement of the charge some tiny oil drops immersed in an electric field.

The quantification of the quantum of electric charge was possible, and the students were first-hand dragged in a historical experiment. Primary goal of the activities is the improvement of skills such as the capacity of formulating hypotheses, the employment of an available instrumentation, the collection and analyses of data, the resolution of mathematical equation for the identification of physical quantities of interest.

A didactic video of the same experiment was produced by the Experimental teaching lab. ST21 of Politecnico di Milano in order to foster the students’ reflection on the same experience as a follow-up activity and, in an Open Educational Resources philosophy (OER), it will be made available on the web site of Lab. ST2 YouTube channel. Our project was developed in the context of Piano Nazionale Lauree Scientifiche (PLS), a government programme which funds didactic innovation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in Higher Education and Secondary School level.