Engaging Students with Phenomena: Why Can’t We Walk Through Walls?


Over the years of teaching (in my case Physics & Chemistry students specifically) I’ve found that starting lessons with an engaging question can not only lead students to delve deeper into learning about a topic, investigating all the observable phenomena, but also makes it a more significant and memorable learning experience. One of my most recent questions using this phenomena-based approach has been: Why Can’t We Walk Through Walls? After all, if we only consider the volume of the electrons, protons, and neutrons in your body, then your entire mass would be about the size of a small sugar cube. Our bodies are mostly empty space! However, everything about us seems pretty solid. So, when we lean against a wall, why don’t we fall through the wall? Why can’t we walk through walls like some superheroes do? I explore this surprisingly complex question that crosses both chemistry and physics in my webinar below:

Christopher Moore is the Dr. George F. Haddix Community Chair in Physical Science and professor of physics at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Holding a M.S. in applied physics and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Moore has worked as a physical science teacher at several secondary schools in Virginia, as a professional materials scientist, and as a scholar of and consultant on science education. Dr. Moore is author of the book “Creating Scientists: Teaching and Assessing Science Practice for the NGSS” and of Savvas Learning’s award-winning Experience Physics high school curriculum.

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About the Author

Christopher Moore

Chair/Professor & Chemistry/Physics Author