Chicago STEMvironment 6/26: “Renew-a-Bean”

Chicago STEMvironment 6/26: “Renew-a-Bean”

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” This week our environmental scientists are exploring the concepts of renewable and nonrenewable energy with help from Dr. Suess’ The Lorax. Today students discovered how quickly nonrenewable energy is used up by playing “Renew-A-Bean.”

Ask your student: What is an example of a renewable resource? What is an example of nonrenewable resource? (Renewabe resource: hydropower, solar power, wind power; Nonrenewable resource: coal, minerals, fossil fuels)

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MYTHconceptions 6-26: Tablecloth Viola!

MYTHconceptions 6-26: Tablecloth Viola!

Today the students investigated if it was possible to magically pull a tablecloth off of a table so that everything on top of the tablecloth remains as it was. In order to understand the plausibility of this claim, students first learned about Newton’s first law of motion: objects tend to stay still if they are still or continue moving if they are moving. Students then planned, tested, and carried out various scenarios to remove a tablecloth without disrupting the table setting resting on it.

Ask your student: What happens to an object at rest if no force acts on it? (it stays at rest) Were you able to pull the tablecloth out without disrupting the objects on top of it?

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Extreme Math & Science Monday: Gettin’ Fit

Extreme Math & Science Monday: Gettin’ Fit

Today in Extreme Math and Science, the students learned the basics of ecology, fitness, and behavior where they devised their own methods to see if they could figure out how many beans were in a flask without directly counting them. This activity can be translated to the real world in a sense that they were estimating unknown populations of a species or number of particles.

Ask your student: What is fitness?  (In genetic terms, the probability of finding one of your genes in future generations.)

Chicago Engineering Explorations 6-26: Mini Lungs

Chicago Engineering Explorations 6-26: Mini Lungs

Today, in Engineering Explorations, the students learned about the anatomy of the heart and lungs and how they function in the human body. Our bio-engineers built their own working model of a lung and demonstrated how the diaphragm works based on air pressure differentials. The end goal of the day was to relate the lung model to relevant heart anatomy and physiology.

Ask your student: What is the purpose of the diaphragm in the repertory system? (Each breath begins with a contraction of a dome-shaped sheet of muscle underneath the lungs called the diaphragm. During inhalation (taking air into your lungs) your diaphragm contracts, or flattens downward, which reduces pressure in the chest cavity. Normal outside air pressure is higher, which forces air through the nose and mouth, down the trachea and into the lungs where pressure is lower (pressure systems move from high to low). On the other hand, upon exhalation your diaphragm relaxes, which increases pressure on the lungs and forcing air, containing carbon dioxide, out of the body.)

Belleville: Micro STEM 6/19-23

Belleville: Micro STEM 6/19-23

Monday:

Students began a two day project today, investigating bacteria that surrounds us. Each student will test their own fingers, and each group of 4 students could pick up to 8 different surfaces to see what kinds of bacteria live there. Alternatively, the students could choose to see what happened to the bacteria from the same surface with some sort of treatment (applying hand sanitizer, soap, etc.). Students were given the chance to make a hypothesis about what they expect to see on their plates. Later on this week, the students will use a microscope to look at the results of their samples, and test their hypotheses.

Ask your student: If bacteria surrounds us, why don’t we get sick more often? (Not all bacteria are pathogenic (disease causing)) What are some examples of places where good bacteria are found? (Almost anywhere has some amount of good bacteria, some examples would be in our intestines and mouth)

Tuesday:

Students continued their exploration in thermodynamics today with another heating experiment. Yesterday, students started with a beaker of ice, which they heated until the water boiled. They created a time versus temperature graph of their collected data in order to observe how phase changes affect temperature. Today, students performed the same experiment with a twist: they added salt to the water. They created another graph, and compared how the salt affected the time vs. temperature curve.

Ask your student: How did adding salt change the way your graph looked? (boiling point increased, reduced the time it took to melt) What do the plateaus on the graph represent? (phase changes)

Wednesday:

Today, in MicroSTEM, the students built upon their knowledge of atoms and ions as they used their own bodies to represent atoms and ions that bond to form ionic compounds. The students played a game where they were challenged to find a partner “match” to create an ionic compound with a net charge of zero. Also, today in MicroSTEM, the students built simple ionic compounds and then created crystalline structures with the whole class.

Ask your student: To create a neutral ionic compound with a Sodium ion (+1 charge), what charge would the other ion have to be? (-1 charge)

Thursday:

Today, the investigation of different kinds of magnifying devices continued. Students got the chance to go outside and collect various samples of their choice. After collection, the samples were brought inside to be analyzed with a compound light microscope. Students also reviewed the various parts of a compound microscope, and the importance of each part in the function of the microscope as a whole.

Ask your student: What similarities and differences did you notice when you were using the different tools for magnification (MicroPhone lens, hand lens, compound light microscope, and stereoscope)?

Friday:

Today, in MircoSTEM, the students examined real circuits in a calculator to see how a calculator functions and explore how numbers are displayed. Students focused on the display of the calculator, in particular how numbers are displayed using a 7-segment display.

Ask your student: What type of numerical display do most four function calculators have? (7-segment) What type of numerical display do most graphing calculators have? (Dot matrix)

Belleville: Engineering Explorations 6/19-23

Belleville: Engineering Explorations 6/19-23

Monday:

Today, in Engineering Explorations, the students learned about the anatomy of the heart and lungs and how they function in the human body. Our bioengineers built their own working model of a lung and demonstrated how the diaphragm works based on air pressure differentials. The end goal of the day was to relate the lung model to relevant heart anatomy and physiology.

Ask your student: What is the purpose of the diaphragm in the repertory system? (Each breath begins with a contraction of a dome-shaped sheet of muscle underneath the lungs called the diaphragm. During inhalation (taking air into your lungs) your diaphragm contracts, or flattens downward, which reduces pressure in the chest cavity. Normal outside air pressure is higher, which forces air through the nose and mouth, down the trachea and into the lungs where pressure is lower (pressure systems move from high to low). On the other hand, upon exhalation your diaphragm relaxes, which increases pressure on the lungs and forcing air, containing carbon dioxide, out of the body.)

Tuesday:

This week, our engineers are building boats using simple items. Today they used aluminum foil to build their boats to test how much weight they could hold. They learned principles about load, and about the Archimedes Principle!

Ask your students: How did the Archimedes Principle relate to your activity today? Why do you think this Principle is important to know? (Answers will vary)

Wednesday:

In this lesson, our engineers applied the knowledge they learned earlier in the week in a race to assemble two different types of circuits, parallel and series. Their creativity really lit up the room as they explored the difference between these two circuit types by powering LED lights in each of these styles.

Ask your student: What is the main difference between parallel and series circuits? (Only one path in a series circuit; parallel there are multiple paths) Which circuit style causes voltage drop? (series)

Fun Fact: Refrigerators, freezers, and water heaters use series circuits while electrical outlets in a room, house, or building use parallel circuits.

Thursday:

Today, our engineers explored how their knowledge could be applied to the real world, by building solar cars! In this first part of a two part lesson, the students tested how different types of light effected their motors. Then, they got the wheel rolling by creating the body of their solar cars. Tomorrow they’ll complete their cars and put them to the test!

Ask your student: What is a solar cell? (It’s the “battery” of the car; it converts light into energy)

Fun fact:  The first solar cars were built in the 1950’s.

Friday:

Today students finished their Rube Goldberg machines, and took turns demonstrating them to the rest of the class! Using the Rube Rubric, each team was evaluated for the competition, and had the opportunity to observe all the different machines that were made.

 Ask your student: How well did your Rube Goldberg machine perform?

Belleville: STEMvironment 6/19-23

Belleville: STEMvironment 6/19-23

Monday:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” This week our environmental scientists are exploring the concepts of renewable and nonrenewable energy with help from Dr. Suess’ The Lorax. Today students discovered how quickly nonrenewable energy is used up by playing “Renew-A-Bean.”

Ask your student: What is an example of a renewable resource? What is an example of nonrenewable resource? (Renewable resource: hydro-power, solar power, wind power; Nonrenewable resource: coal, minerals, fossil fuels)

Tuesday:

Continuing with our theme to create energy efficient homes, the students commenced the building phase of their project, taking into account what they had planned the day before and implementing it. They created real estates, adding windows and functioning doors to their homes. Later, the students were faced with the challenge, “What materials will most efficiently insulate your home?” Brainstorming, they used their knowledge of insulators and conductors to create a hypothesis and experiment to test for the following day.

Ask you student: What is the difference between an insulator and conductor? (Conductors allow energy/heat to pass through them while insulators do not) What materials do you predict will best insolate your home? (Opinion, answers will vary)

Fun Fact: “Well-planned landscaping isn’t just for aesthetics — properly placed trees around the house can save between $100 and $250 annually” (https://energy.gov/articles/top-11-things-you-didnt-know-about-saving-energy-home-summer-edition)

Wednesday:

In class today, students learned how to apply the principles of solar energy, and how to run good tests of their solar device. Students created a solar oven that harnessed the power of the sun’s light to heat and cook marshmallows! By collecting data of their ovens’ temperature and then graphing it, students were able to compare their ovens, and discover some of the principles behind solar heating.

 Ask your student: What happened to the temperature inside the oven? (It increased) What part of the oven kept the heat in? (The black paper) What part reflected the heat inside of the oven? (The foil, which acted as a mirror)

 

Thursday:

Today, in STEMvironment, the students analyzed samples of water from a local pond to look for insect nymphs which can be seen with the naked eye. Students learned the importance of a healthy ecosystem and that in aquatic ecosystems, the more diverse the organisms in a body of water, the more vibrant and healthy it is. Using this knowledge, students could analyze the health of the ecosystem from which the water sample was gathered.

Ask your student: What is a macroinvertebrate? (A small animal without a backbone that can be seen without a stereoscope or microscope)

Friday:

Students today worked as scientists working for the environmental protection agency! As agents of the EPA, students collected their particle collectors, and observed the materials that were collected. By joining the data of the entire class, we were able to map the areas of greatest air pollution, and evaluate just where the most pollution occurred.

Ask your student: What gas do we need to breathe to survive? (Oxygen) What is the best way to deal with air pollution? (Prevention) What is done to clean air we breathe indoors? (Air filtration)