High School Biology-Chemistry SMILE Meeting
10 May 2005
Notes Prepared by Porter Johnson

Barbara Lorde [Attucks School]                           Dancing Spaghetti
The presentation is based upon the web page Dancing Spaghetti: http://www.easyfunschool.com/article1061.html on the website of  the NSF Science & Technology Center for Environmentally Responsible Solvents and Processes [CERSP], which she passed around the room. Basically, the addition of vinegar to baking soda (the classic elementary school chemical reaction) produces bubbles of carbon dioxide.  When small pieces of spaghetti are mixed with baking soda, and vinegar is then added, the spaghetti pieces begin to dance. This "dancing spaghetti" is a visual assay of the chemical reaction:

The bubbling of the mixture, and dancing of the spaghetti, signals the production and release of CO2 gas during the reaction.

Then Barbara described discussions with her students about careers that require the study of science in school. For example, chemistry is directly relevant to careers in medicine, pharmacy, research, forensics, cooking, the food industry, hazardous material removal, and many others.

Barbara also showed us how to make fingerprints by shading a small piece of paper with a soft pencil, then putting the finger tip in the shaded area to pick up the pencil mark, and then transferring it (as a fingerprint) to a piece of clear tape (which can then be taped to a second piece of paper, producing a permanent preparation of the fingerprint). Barbara does a similar exercise with lip prints using lipstick as the "color" to transfer the print to a piece of paper (to produce a permanent record). Details appear in the attached sheets (from http://www.chem4kids.com for the fingerprints and http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org for the lip prints).

Good ideas! Thanks, Barbara.

Ed Scanlon [Morgan Park HS, biology]                     Predicting the weather
shared the following lesson with us. He had drawn three consecutive daily weather maps of the USA, copied from those appearing in newspapers. Ed then had his students determine the pattern (ie, direction) of movement of the high and low pressure centers, the warm and cold fronts, and the temperatures over the three-day period, and then predict on a blank map representing the fourth day, where the highs and lows, and warm and cold fronts would appear. He also had the students predict the temperatures in various parts of the country on day four, extrapolating from the first three days.  He did the same for precipitation, and whether the precipitation would be rain or snow. Ed then asked the students to explain how they had reached their conclusions.
This exercise is very simple, but quite interesting and profound! Thanks, Ed.

Terri Donatello [ST Edwards School]                                  More on map reading
showed how contour maps can be used to work on math and graphing skills, using the elevation numbers on the contours to plot a graph of elevation versus linear distance to get another view of what terrain with elevation changes looks like. Terri also brought some stereo contour maps that could be seen in three dimensions using a stereo viewer.

Great stuff, Terri!

Notes prepared by Benjamin Stark.