High School Biology-Chemistry SMILE Meeting
26 October 2004
Notes Prepared by Porter Johnson

Barbara Lorde [Attucks Elementary School]         Name that Element (an activity she brings us from her recent summer program at Columbia College)
Barbara started by pointing out the elements in our chart of the Periodic Table on our wall and reminding us that our own bodies are composed of many of these elements. Barbara then gave us bags of beans, each bag containing two types of beans (black for neutrons; white for electrons-protons—to simplify things, each "proton- electron pair" was represented by a single white bean). Using a periodic table, we arranged the beans in each bag to form atoms and then identified the corresponding element represented by the beans in each bag.. For example, one bag had 19 white and 20 black beans (atomic number Z = 19 and atomic mass A = 39; therefore 19K39, where K stands for Kalium -- the Latin word for potassium).

Ken Schug [IIT]                 Ken's mysteries!
Ken had a stoppered Erlenmeyer flask almost filled with a blue liquid with a pipette vertically held in the stopper with one end submerged in the flask and some of the blue liquid in the pipette. He put the flask on ice to cool. The column of the blue liquid in the pipette slowly fell as the temperature of the liquid decreased, because of a decrease in the volume of the fluid.  It worked as a thermometer! Ken then pulled out a very long thermometer, which we presumed to be useful over a large range of temperatures. But it had a very large mercury bulb compared to its size, which allowed this huge thermometer to range only over 13 Celsius  degrees, and thus be very precise.

Wanda Pitts [Vernon Community Academy]                   Magnets (handout)
passed around the article Attractive Spirals from the book Janice VanCleave's Magnets: Mind-boggling Experiments You Can Turn Into Science Fair Projectshttp://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471571067.html.  She began by asking us what we know about magnets. We came up with the following:

Then she asked us about electromagnets and gave us materials to make an electromagnet, which we then proceeded to do. Ron's magnet, with two layers of densely wound coils of wire, picked up seven BBs!

Ken pointed out that one may wrap aluminum foil around the nail  in making an electromagnet. It does not short out against the nail because the foil is coated with a non-conducting coat of aluminum oxide  Al203 (i.e., the foil surface is naturally insulating).

Other connections between magnets and biology /chemistry:  MRI imaging, helping birds migrate (by following the magnetic field of the Earth).

Ed Scanlon  [Morgan Park HS, Biology]                 Impact Craters (handout)

Some useful information for this experiment is the masses of these three "projectiles":

Ping pong ball: 0.3 g
Marble: 5.3 g
Golf ball: 45.2 g
In the laboratory, the students could determine the masses themselves using a balance.

A big enough object traveling fast enough could potentially make a huge crater on impact with the earth, and eject a huge amount of dust/debris into the atmosphere. One widely held view (for which there is considerable evidence) is that such an impact created so much dust in the atmosphere that a huge global cooling occurred, leading to the extinction of the dinosaurs and other species. For details see the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History website:  http://www.nmnh.si.edu/paleo/blast/k_t_boundary.htm.

Schedule for Future Meetings
Date Participant
Nov 09 Chris Etapa
Nov 23 Brenda Daniel
Dec 07 Walter
Dec 14 - ? -

Notes prepared by Benjamin Stark.