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Summer SAVY, Session 1 Day 3, Intro to Chemical Engineering (1st – 2nd)

Posted by on Wednesday, June 12, 2024 in blog, SAVY.

Good afternoon, SAVY families! Today was full of engineering success for your youngsters, and we got to “dig in” to some play dough creation! 

We began the day with a discussion of properties: what they are and how we can categorize them. We took common classroom objects and described their properties, including color, texture, materials, state of matter, and uses; then, we came up with adjectives to describe these properties and categorized the various brainstormed terms. Items we discussed included scissors, crayons, glue sticks, and even their engineer notebooks. 

Next, we continued learning about matter and how it changes, including particle movement and changes between states of matter, and then moved into some fun sculpting as we learned the difference between high-quality and low-quality play dough products. We discussed the meaning of the term “quality,” and students provided examples of high-quality and low-quality items. 

Of course, we delved into the product-creation aspect of chemical engineering as we examined a play dough creation process and the impact of each ingredient on the product-in-progress. The students really enjoyed mixing and developing their own unique descriptions for the products created as the ratios of flour, water, and salt changed. We learned about aspects of science, such as proper measurement and controlling variables in experiments. This tied directly into our course objectives of using the engineering design process to improve a product. Students have been learning all about improvements and making good things even better by using their creativity and “engineering minds.” 

After an engaging time at ORA, we made some generalizations about the mixtures we created using various ratios of play dough ingredients. Students were able to recognize that adding flour made a mixture drier; salt made mixtures grainier, and water made the mixture stickier. We will apply those generalizations when we perfect our play dough recipe tomorrow! 

We rounded out the day with a discussion of chemical and physical changes and some demonstrations of these types of changes, including ripping paper and dissolving salt in water. Students learned that physical changes are reversible, whereas chemical changes alter the chemical makeup of an item and cannot be undone (like frying an egg or baking a cake). 

Some ideas for extension conversations with your students: 

  • Which part of the engineering design process do you like the best? 
  • What did you sculpt with play dough today? How could you have improved it? 
  • What could you have done differently in your play dough creation process to produce a different outcome? 
  • If you could have added any ingredient to your play dough, what would you have added and why? 

We look forward to learning more together tomorrow!