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A photocell experiment for secondary school physics MacQueen, Ronald David


There was recently introduced into the secondary schools of British Columbia a course in physics based primarily upon the work of the Physical Science Study Committee. At the end of the course a study is made of atomic physics. A fundamental concept involved in the study of atomic physics is that of the quantum of light energy. A photocell experiment suitable for use in secondary schools has been developed which is intended to help the student to come to major conclusions regarding the photoelectric effect and the nature of light. In developing this experiment investigations were made to determine the suitability of available apparatus and methods. Among the aspects investigated were photocells, light sources, filters, methods of measuring small currents, and methods of investigating the photoelectric effect. The experiment which evolved was then performed under conditions more suitable than exist in secondary schools. The results of the experiment agreed with the major points of the theory and yielded a value for Planck's constant within ten per cent of accepted value. It was concluded that a photocell experiment can be performed in secondary schools which will yield results which agree with the theory.

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