I’d like to report on one of the end-of-year research projects that two of my general chemistry students completed during class this year. If you’d like read more about these end-of year research projects in general, click here.
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One could argue that the technological triumphs embodied in our robotic explorations of Mars far exceed those that put men on the moon. Missing, however, is the drama of putting human life at risk, and the ease with which our imagination can put us in the shoes of the explorer. That is not to say that there is not a human element.
Wow! A very neat experiment, called “Hydroglyphics”, published by Kim, Alvarenga, Aizenberg, and Sleeper in the Journal of Chemical Education allows you to transform a common plastic Petri dish into a unique teaching tool to demonstrate the difference between hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces. Check it out in the video.
Universities should be and are expected to be sources of truthful and unbiased information about controversial subjects, especially in the sciences. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Instructors at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada used "academic freedom" to present an egregiously biased and unscientific course that misrepresented the facts of climate change.
I came across a simple, yet interesting experiment that was first described by Elizabeth Sumner Walter in 2001. She merely had students pour water into a dish containing some Gobstoppers candies. I showed this experiment to some of my college chemistry students while they were working on a different laboratory experiment.
Inquiry is a fluid concept. There are some truly fabulous activities on Grand Valley State University's Target Inquiry (TI) website (www.gvsu.edu/targetinquiry). Yes, I am biased as I was part of the first TI cohort, but there are several labs now that were written later and they, too, are terrific.
Peter Hoffman is a physicist and materials scientist, and he brings those perspectives and sensibilities to the description of how life converts chemical energy into order and motion. The "Ratchet" in the title is Feynman's Ratchet, a gedanken experiment described in Feynman's "Lectures on Physics" and reminiscent of Maxwell's Demon.
Celebrate Earth Day, which is on Monday, April 22, 2013. Earth Day was first officially recognized on April 22, 1970. This year the theme is "Our Earth: Handle with Care." The topics this year include water, air, plants/soil, and recycling.