Summer SAVY 2019: Session 1, Day 1 – Chemical Spill! (Rising 3rd/4th)
We just wrapped up an insightful and exciting first day of Chemical Spill! Today, we laid the groundwork for many of the important topics that we will discuss this week (and had some fun along the way). We discussed the scientific method and how scientists, big and small, can approach interesting questions. We learned that extraordinary claims require extraordinary PROOF! This proof is a big part of what separates science from pseudoscience (astrology, phrenology, etc.). We discussed good research questions which are very specific to the problem at hand, as well as experimental designs which can isolate our variable of interest.
Your children then switched gears to discussing advanced chemistry without missing a beat. We covered matter, protons, neutrons, electrons, atoms, elements, compounds, acids, and bases in just a short amount of time. I was truly blown away by the class’s level of understanding of these tricky, but important concepts. We then tested our understanding by building atomic models of atoms and compounds using Lego blocks. We also applied the scientific method and our chemistry knowledge to help us identify five mystery liquids. Using litmus pH paper, we tested each solution to find out whether it was an acid or base and used this information to narrow down the list of possible liquids.
We received reports of suspicious activity around Vanderbilt’s campus as well as claims of missing acid containers from a friend in the chemistry department. We spent the afternoon walking through campus looking for clues such as environmental health/biodiversity and pollution. We also collected some water samples in the field and brought them back to our classroom for testing. Most of the samples were found to be around a pH of 7, suggesting a relatively neutral condition, but definitely something we will keep an eye on throughout the week.
Thank you again for providing your students with this fun and rewarding educational opportunity. I’m looking forward to what the rest of the week holds!
Mr. Dave & Ms. Rita
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