MIDDLE SCHOOL LABS
Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Students are introduced to spin coating thin films and extracting DNA from split peas. Students also build models of different forms of carbon-only nanostructures.[pdf]
The Chemistry of Color. Students are introduced to incandescence, fluorescence, chemiluminescence, atomic emission, and additive versus subtractive color. Using hand-held spectroscopes, students measure components of different light sources and use UV lights to explore fluorescence of common household items. Paper chromatography is used to separate the different color components in pens as an example of additive color.[pdf]
Acid-Base Chemistry. Students learn about acid-base reactions, buffers, and mono- versus di-protic acids. Students also investigate the pH of common household items and use pH indicators to develop hidden messages written with different substances.[pdf]
Electronic Devices and Solar Cells. Students learn about electrical current, voltage, resistance, and solar power conversion. With this information, students assemble electronic and photovoltaic circuits, and examine simple resistor networks and solar-powered motors, as well as more complex circuits incorporating audio and mechanical elements.[pdf1,pdf2]
The Science of Microscopy. Students learn about different spatial scales, ranging from atomic to macroscopic, and the physical principles behind optical and electron microscopes. Students use a table-top scanning electron microscope to investigate a variety of samples including insects and plants.
Phases of Matter, Chemical Reactions and Temperature. Students learn key concepts of temperature, phase changes, and reactions. The students quantify the gas formed during CO2 sublimation, quantify the gas formed during the reaction of acid with sodium carbonate, and calculate absolute zero by collecting and graphing pressure data for an ideal gas as a function of temperature.[pdf]
Acceleration, Forces, and Material Properties. Students are introduced to gravity, acceleration, impact, and what happens to materials under applied stress. With this knowledge, students design a carrier for various egg-drop experiments focusing on minimizing the velocity of the egg before it hits the ground and maximizing the time over which it decelerates.
Electrochemistry and Batteries. Students construct and optimize Zn-, Cu-, and Fe-based galvanic cells using salt water, Gatorade, lemons, pickles, and potatoes as electrolytes. Students measure and recorded current and voltage produced by different cells and competed to design the best battery.[pdf]
Solar Powered Cars. Students design, build, optimize, and race solar, battery, and gravity powered cars. This design challenge is used to directly engage students to achieve better results through the application of previously learned scientific knowledge and through the scientific method.
Game Making in Scratch. Students create their own computer games using Scratch, a drag and drop programming language. By implementing a soccer game, students are introduced to loops, if-statements, and Boolean logic. Students then explore Scratch on their own, increasing their understanding of control flow and challenging their creativity.
Food Chemistry. Students understand food and cooking using chemistry. Students explore what is in food by identifying starch, gluten, and the components of milk. Students then paint with food, bake brownies, and learn about the acidity of drinks.[pdf]
Periodic Table and Bonding. Students explore the periodic table, charge, atomic structure, and bonding. Students attach balloons to the ceiling with electrostatic force, identify if a chemical or physical reaction is occurring, learn about lewis dot diagrams and Bohr’s model of the atom, and construct an alien periodic table.[pdf]
Light and Luminescence. Students are introduced to different types of fluorescence and luminescence. Students construct a glow stick, visualize fluorescence under blacklight, and are introduced to bioluminescence and phosphorescence.[pdf]
Ideal Gas Law. Students are introduced to the relationships between temperature, pressure, moles and volume through a series of demos and activities. The information is pieced together to derive the Ideal Gas Law. Their understanding is finally put to the test by constructing a hot air balloons and competing for the longest flight time.[pdf]
Clean Chemistry. Students learn about the chemistry that goes into everyday household items. Students examine the relationship between solubility and polarity, the role of surfactants, and how to make water “soft”.[pdf]
HIGH SCHOOL LABS
Extraction and Quantification of Curcumin from Turmeric. Students extracted curcumin, a fluorescent compound that can be used as a pH indicator, from the spice turmeric. By separating this compound from other organic material in turmeric, the students learn about different aspects of chromatography and how they can be used to separate organic compounds. The curcumin content is quantified using both UV-vis and fluorescence spectroscopy by comparison to calibration curves constructed by the students from authentic samples of curcumin.
Determination of Copper Content in Pennies. Students determine the copper content in pennies manufactured in different years using atomic absorption (AA) spectroscopy. Students learn about different aspects of analytical chemistry and create calibration curves using standard copper sources to allow for copper content determination from the coins. The determined copper contents is then compared with the known copper content of different mintings of pennies.