Great Minds: Fritz Haber

Discuss the work of Fritz Haber from chlorine and mustard gas to synthetic fertilizers. It also mentions his personal life, converting religions, and the fact that one of his discoveries was later altered into the gas that was used during WWII to kill some members of his own family.

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Instructional Ideas

  • Debate the importance — or unimportance  of intentions in scientific discovery
  • Have students write an essay addressing whether Haber should have won the Nobel Prize for preventing the starvation of millions of people, or if he should have been disqualified for designing and using chemical weapons
Classroom Considerations

  • Video attempts to give a balanced view of Haber, but it is difficult when individuals used some of his discoveries to kill large numbers of people
  • Comment section may not be appropriate for the classroom 
  • Video is the 18th in a 25-part series
Pros

  • Addresses the entire set of work, both good and bad, by Haber, which is important so pupils can make up their own minds about him
  • Offers many cross-curricular connections to history, science, and ethics
Cons

  • None