Summer SAVY 2019: Session 1, Day 4 – Chemical Spill (Rising 3rd/4th)
Today was quite an eventful day. In the morning lab session we continued monitoring the health of our flowering plants that we had watered with an acidic and basic solutions the day before. Preliminary results show that plants receiving higher concentrations of acid are less healthy than the plants that received a more diluted solution. We know this by counting the number of flowers and by measuring the height and width of our plants.
We then simulated one of the oil spills that we had been talking so much about in our classroom! Students were grouped into teams and given a budget of $1,000,000. They had to come up with a cleanup plan to purchase cleanup equipment including straws, pipettes, cotton balls, pipe cleaners, and tissue paper. It turned out that the tissue paper dissolved into a million pieces in the water and created an unintentional second pollutant- this is not so uncommon in real oil cleanups also!
In the afternoon, we finally solved our chemical spill mystery! We crept secretly down to our spill site and caught the evil scientist, Dr. Chris, improperly disposing of harmful acids from his lab experiments. We explained to him the damaging effects that his chemicals were having on the environment and then implemented a cleanup strategy to perfection. The doctor signed a confession letter and agreed to properly dispose of his waste better in the future. Although initially we thought he was evil, we learned that he was researching possible secret cures for cancer. This made us reflect on how we value the environment relative to other societal factors.
However our work was not done there. We had to teach the doctor how to neutralize his acid by combining it with a base. We sprinkled baking soda around the acidic pool, kicking off a chemical reaction. We were able to increase the pH from 2.06 up to 4.82. Adding water to dilute the remaining solution successfully brought our pH closer to neutral! Once inside and safely away from the spill site, we started exploring all courses of legal action against the polluter, including a possible law suit for reimbursement of the $1.30 spent on the baking soda.
We are so excited to meet you tomorrow and show you what we have been up to all week!
-Mr. Dave & Miss Rita
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