Monday, October 26, 2009

Biology: Testing for Organic Compounds

This week we discussed organic compounds. First we dispelled any myths about organic compounds being any healthier than regular old compounds. Likewise, if someone tries to charge you more money for an organic compound, don't fall for it! In chemistry, organic means relating to living things and containing lots of carbon atoms.

We used chemical and physical tests to know whether the 6 foods in question contained proteins, fats, or carbohydrates (starches or sugars.) With all the test-tubes, droppers, and indicators flying around, we didn't get to draw our full conclusions. Stay tuned next week for a full report.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Physics: Circuits are cool!

Today's experiment was originally called: "Experimenting with different kinds of circuits," but about 5 minutes into it, the kids decided to change the name to "Circuits are cool." We did, and they are. The kids learned about the parts of a circuit: battery, load, and wires, and they were challenged to build circuits that could turn on light, motors, and annoying beeping machines. What's that saying...necessity is the mother of invention? Following their success with the annoying beeping machines, we introduced the concept of switches. Ah....sweet silence. Afterward the kids recorded their results in their lab-books using circuit diagrams.

Biology: Modeling carbon compounds

This week we talked about carbon and how its atomic structure gives it so much versatility in forming chemical bonds with other elements. Using the latest in electron microscopy we were able to produce this incredible image of an actual butane molecule.

Next week we'll investigate the major carbon-containing macromolecules that make up all living things.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Physics: Charge your batteries!

This week we investigated batteries: how they work, how to measure their voltage, and what happens when you put them in series.

My original plan was to have them build circuits, but wouldn't you know it...all my AAs were dead. Pretty embarrassing the first week and all... Luckily I had just gone grocery shopping and had plenty of lemons, potatoes, salt, and vinegar.

Why was this lucky? No, I did not distract them with lemonade and french fries ... it turns out that with a few strips of copper and zinc, wires, and various produce, you can light an LED.

Look out McGyver, here we come!