Einstein Dollars™

The Einstein Dollar
A gift from one science teacher to another

Five years ago, I created a prototype of the Einstein Dollar to use in my classroom as part of a lesson intended to introduce students to the concept of a conserved quantity (money). The students were abuzz with excitement - the Einstein Dollar was an immediate hit!

Given the positive feedback of my students and colleagues, I decided to explore the possibility of using the Einstein Dollar as a tool of positive reinforcement in the classroom. I subsequently spent an entire spring break perfecting the design of the Einstein Dollar. When we returned to school, I re-introduced the Einstein Dollar as a means of extra credit in the classroom. Here it is: 

The Einstein Dollar in the Classroom
I spend a large portion of my class time challenging groups of students to answer conceptual questions and solve problems collaboratively on large white boards. After each white board question, I randomly select one of the groups to present the solution or conceptual explanation. If the group provides a lucid and well-structured response, it receives one point towards an Einstein Dollar. For every three points that the group receives, I give each individual student in the group one Einstein Dollar. In my classroom, each Einstein Dollar is worth one extra point on a test or quiz. 

From Me to You
I have decided to share my Einstein Dollar with the world in the hope that you will find a way to meaningfully use it in your classroom to engage your students in the wonders of physics. I hope that they have as positive an impact on your classroom dynamic as they have had on mine.

But is it useful from a pedagogical standpoint?
It should be noted that the Einstein Dollar system rarely affects my students’ grades significantly, and thus does not undermine the integrity of my grading system. This also ensures that students remained focused on the physics above all else. The Einstein Dollar’s aesthetic appeal has a positive symbolic effect toward encouraging students’ curiosity, collaboration, and enthusiasm in the classroom.

Easter Eggs
Carefully take note that the Einstein Dollar’s design contains several hidden science and math-related Easter Eggs. I encourage each of you to find them and discuss them with your students. I will soon be posting a “key” to the Einstein Dollar, with appropriate explanation. 

Constructing the Einstein Dollar
Print each side of the Einstein Dollar, using the images below, on a sheet of résumé paper (or a paper of similar grade). Be careful to ensure that the orientation is consistent on both sides. Sign each Einstein Dollar with your name, and laminate (optional)! 

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact me on Twitter (@UniverseAndMore) or email me at matt@theuniverseandmore.com.

Printable Version