World Space Week: October 4th – 10th
The combustion reaction of hydrogen and oxygen is used to produce the explosive energy needed to power the space shuttle. In this lab, your students generate microscale quantities of hydrogen and oxygen and test their explosive nature. The goal is to find the most “powerful” gas mixture and use it to launch a rocket across the room!
Instruments such as the telescope and microscope have expanded our normally narrow view of size and distance. Getting students to appreciate and understand the magnitude of each level of magnification up and down the scale of size can be difficult. This lab helps put the numbers into perspective.
Biology Week: October 6th – 14th
3 Fun Plant Facts:
1. 85% of plant life is found in the ocean
2. Caffeine is actually a pesticide for the coffee plant
3. Bamboo can grow up to 35 inches in one day, making it the fastest growing woody plant
Milk of magnesia (MOM) and other antacids are bases that relieve heartburn by neutralizing the acid found in the stomach’s gastric juices. When hydrochloric acid and universal indicator are added to milk of magnesia, a dramatic rainbow of color changes is observed, providing a great demo on acids and bases, solubility, digestion, and “antacid-testing” consumer biochemistry.
All new cells come from previously existing cells. New cells are formed by the process of cell division, which involves the replication of the cell’s internal structures and the division of the cytoplasm (cytokinesis). This lab helps students understand what factors affect the rate of mitosis.
Biodiversity is defined as the variety of distinct species inhabiting a given ecosystem, whether continent, island, forest, field or pond. Here is a simple and yet wonderfully illustrative activity to demonstrate this vital and topical concept.
Fire Prevention Week: October 7th – 13th
3 Fire Facts:
1. Earth is the only known planet where fire can burn as there is not enough oxygen anywhere else
2. Some fuels can generate their own heat (i.e. by rotting), making spontaneous combustion a real thing
3. Most of the fuels we use derive their energy from trapped solar rays (photosynthesis)
Fire is a serious and, unfortunately, a common safety hazard in a typical chemistry laboratory. Understanding how fires start, the steps to take in the event of a fire, and the basic principles of using a fire extinguisher will greatly reduce the risks of injury due to a fire.
A science department safety plan should include a comprehensive plan for fire safety and should include a fire safety inspection to identify areas of preparation, training, and equipment that need to be improved. Use this Fire Safety Inspection list to help put your plan in place.
The use of flammable liquids is an important component of most chemical laboratories. Understanding the properties and hazards of these materials is an important first step in terms of the safe purchase, storage, use, and disposal of flammable liquids.
Vapors from volatile, flammable liquids are generally heavier than air and can travel along a countertop to an ignition source. Once vapors have been ignited, the flames will quickly follow the vapor trail back to the vapor source and may result in a very large fire or explosion.
Ada Lovelace Day – Celebrating Women in Science: October 9th
3 Facts About Ada Lovelace:
1. Ada Lovelace was the daughter of poet George Gordon (Lord Byron), and his mathematics-loving wife Annabella Milbanke
2. Ada was asked to expand upon mathemetican Charles Babbage’s plans for a complicated device he called the Analytical Engine. Her article contains several early ‘computer programs,’ as well as strikingly prescient observations on the potential uses of the machine, including the manipulation of symbols and creation of music.
3. Ada’s notes on the Analytical Engine was one of the critical documents that inspired Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers
Why Arduinos and Ada Lovelace?
Arduinos are open-source platforms used for building electronics. Arduinos consists of a physical, programmable circuit board and a piece of software that runs on your computer and is used to write and upload computer code to the physical board. Ada Lovelace’s work contributed to the advent of modern computers.
National Astronomy Day: October 13th
In celebration of this day, we created a special lab activity just for you!
What would it be like to live in a vacuum? Which of our tools and toys would still work the same? Which would work better? Which would not work at all? Help your students answers these questions and more!
Earth Science Week: October 14th – 20th
3 Pollution Facts:
1. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 44 percent of assessed stream miles, 64 percent of lakes and 30 percent of bay and estuarine areas are not clean enough for fishing and swimming. The United State’s most common contaminants are bacteria, mercury, phosphorus and nitrogen.
2. Even though humans can’t see or smell noise pollution, it still affects the environment. Research has shown that there are direct links between noise and health, including stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, and hearing loss.
3. Pollution in China can change weather patterns in the U.S. It takes just five days for the jet stream to carry heavy air pollution from China to the U.S., where it stops clouds from producing rain and snow.
When the acidity of rain falls below a pH of 5.6, it is referred to as acid rain. This activity simulates in a short time the possible effects on a variety of materials because of acid rain.
National Fossil Day: October 17th
3 Fossil Facts:
1. The oldest fossils are bacteria found on Greenland in small graphite microparticles believed to be the fossilized remains of byproducts produced by ancient bacteria from 3.7 billion years ago.
2. In 2017, scientists discovered the remains of what they now believe to be the world’s largest land animal, called Patagotitan mayorum. The fossilized remains suggest that the long-necked creature was 120-feet long, and possibly weighed over 150,000 pounds.
3. Microscopic organisms called diatoms are what create fossil fuels. Pressure and temperature convert the remaining carbon from their bodies into fuel.
Nuclear Science Week: October 15th – 19th
3 Nuclear Science Facts:
1. Studies have shown that cellular cultures (protozoa) could not grow normally when they were deprived of background radiation
2. Bone imaging is an extremely important use of radioactive properties. This technique is good for arthritic patients, bone abnormalities and various other diagnostics.
3. X-ray fluorescence can be used to determine the chemical makeup of paint in rare paintings, allowing scientists to authenticate the age and place of origin of the painting and reveal a forgery.
From weapons to electrical power generation, the chain reaction of certain radioisotopes has had a profound effect on society and the environment. How do these chain reactions occur and what do they look like? Use the common domino to create a dramatic visual model of this subatomic process.
This is an opportunity of a lifetime—travel back in time to meet the Greek philosopher Democritus and fill him in on the history of the atom. How far has the atom evolved since he defined it over 2400 years ago?
National Chemistry Week: October 21st – 27th
3 Chemistry Facts:
1. If you pour a handful of salt into a full glass of water, the water level will actually go down rather than overflowing the glass.
2. The only letter that does not appear on the Periodic Table of Elements is J.
3. The human body contains enough carbon to make approximately 9,000 pencils.
The boiling point of a liquid depends on the external air pressure. When water is placed under vacuum, the boiling point decreases and the water boils. Boiling, however, is an endothermic process—as the water boils, the temperature decreases, and the water soon freezes!
Create a tower of sodium acetate trihydrate from a supersaturated solution. Your students’ curiosity will grow as you demonstrate the concepts of supersaturation and crystallization!
Place three clear and nearly colorless solutions all in a row, put on a patriotic Sousa march in the background, and add a single new yellow solution to each. Three cheers for the red, white, and blue—the colors of Old Glory emerge in time to the music!
Mole Day: October 23rd
3 Mole Facts:
1. Avogadro’s number is the number of particles in one mole of any substance. Its numerical value is 6.02225 × 1023.
2. The mole is a quantity of particles of any type equal to Avogadro’s number.
3. The concept that a mole of any substance contains the same number of particles arose out of research conducted in the early 1800s by the Italian physicist Amedeo Avogadro.
The concepts of Avogadro’s number and a mole are difficult for many students to comprehend. Understanding these concepts and their usefulness to chemists is a fundamental building block to understanding many other chemical concepts.
A common chemical reaction used in chemistry class is zinc and hydrochloric acid. In this lab, students calculate how many zinc and chlorine atoms take place in the reaction, and then predict the mass of the solid product. The final grade will be determined by the electronic balance!
Solar Week: October 22nd – 26th
3 Solar Energy Facts:
1. Solar technology is either active (e.g. Photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors which harness solar energy) or passive (e.g. constructing rooms to improve air circulation, orienting space to favorably use sunlight, etc.)
2. Space missions often use solar energy to power their spaceships.
3. Solar energy is the preferred mode of creating power when the need is temporary (e.g. fairs, mining sites, and the Olympics).
This investigation demonstrates how ecologists determine the flow of energy along a simple food chain, starting either as solar energy captured as part of photosynthesis or as chemical energy captured by chemosynthetic bacteria in specialized ecosystems.
Watch as the sun sets over a chemical reaction! When the reaction is carried out on an overhead projector, the light from the projector is scattered by the colloidal sulfur particles and produces a multicolored chemical sunset.