The Middle School Science Elective is at it again! Over the past several weeks, students have explored various areas of science including biochemistry, oceanography, architecture, organic chemistry and engineering. Below is a brief synopsis of the projects that have been completed thus far:
Making Glue: In this project, students were tasked with developing a homemade adhesive out of milk, vinegar and baking soda and then testing the tensile strength of their prototype. Students learned about how the acetic acid from the vinegar denatured the protein, casein in milk and how the sodium bicarbonate from the baking soda would neutralize the remaining vinegar, allowing intermolecular forces between the strands of amino acids to reform and make a sticky product. As students began to grasp these concepts, they began experimenting on how using different types of milk, and different ratios of vinegar and baking soda would affect the performance of their homemade adhesive. The results left us all in a sticky situation!
Ocean Clean Up: In this learning activity, students researched the different zones of the ocean, including the intertidal, neritic and open ocean. The purpose of their research was to discover the topography, wave action and habitat of each zone, and the human impact on all three zones. Students were then tasked to identify some of the problems and potential solutions to the buildup of plastic in the ocean from human waste.
Bycatch: Following Ocean Clean Up, our students became commercial fishermen that were dedicated to making the greatest profit. Their mission was to develop a net that could catch their targeted species tuna, while leaving as much of their “by-catch” behind, including herring, shrimp, dolphins, whales, Nemos and Doreys! This project was simulated in an indoor aquarium with various beans, beads, marbles and golf balls. In addition to developing effective nets, students had to calculate the fines and profits for each daily catch and communicate their results through an excel spreadsheet.
Emergency Shelter: In this project, students were testing their design skills with limited resources. Equipped with merely a handful of bamboo sticks and trash bags, each team had to construct a shelter in the timespan of one class period that could hold the entire team, stay standing for 24 hours, keep the ground underneath dry and withstand a shake test.
Compost Challenge: The compost challenge from the beginning of the semester came full circle as students planted vegetable seeds in pure, homemade compost and pure topsoil for comparison. The results were astounding as the seedlings began to grow, flourish and produce blooms at an exponential rate when compared to their topsoil counterparts.