High School Biology-Chemistry SMILE Meeting
04 November 2003
Notes Prepared by Porter Johnson

Wanda Pitts[Douglas School]     Leaf Art
provided follow-up to last week's "Leaf Art" activity by showing us pictures made by her students and asking us what they represented.  In some cases there was a consensus, in others we came up with several different possibilities, and in a few cases they were relegated to "modern art". Thanks, Wanda.

Lilla Green [Hartigan School, retired]       Energy
After recounting her 35 year career at Hartigan School which included 10 years running a multi-grade "lab" (sounds phenomenological!), Lilla  led us through a broad-ranging activity on ENERGY. She first asked for words related to energy which she wrote on the board; our list included: food, heat, electricity, sound, potential, kinetic, and others (think we missed nuclear). She then struck a match and lit a candle while we called out related energy terms, heat, light, friction, sound, chemical; then pulled a variety of toys out of her "energy bag" and asked individuals to supply related words. Toys included a Slinky, wind up action toys, remote controlled car which Ben got working by actually reading the directions, a last resort for many of us when dealing with life's little problems. Small groups of us then examined one of three sets of five pictures and attempted to arrange them in a logical chronological order (ball rolling down a hill and striking a stationary object, candle being lit with a match, a tree growing under a sun), then described the different types of energy represented.

Ken Schug asked "Since we are told that energy is conserved where did the energy go?" and got several answers that it is changed from one form to another, though often not easily detected; e.g. if we drop a rock on the ground the loss in potential energy of the rock is transferred to the (kinetic) molecular motion at the site of impact (resulting in a very small increase in temperature). Because the car ran on batteries, Ben suggested that Ken provide an explanation of how batteries work. His non-phenomenological explanation was that a battery (really cell) is a way of tricking two chemical reactants to send electrons being transferred between them through an external circuit, where it can do useful things as an electric current, rather than directly where only heat is produced. [Ken promised to do phenomenological presentation next time if somebody reminds him!] Great way to share your years of teaching with us beginners Lil!!

Erma Lee [Williams]     Salad Advice
Erma Lee
(welcome back; we missed you!) then fed both our bodies and minds with an activity based on SALAD ADVICE that  she recently received from an expert on human nutrition. She provided the following salad ingredients: lettuce, three kinds of dressing, hard boiled eggs, cucumber, tomato, shredded cheese, bacon bits, croutons, sunflower seeds, carrots and asked us to make healthy salads with an estimate of total calories. While eating our salads we discussed such varied nutrition topics as Holiday Weight Gain, number of calories in a stick of (sugared) chewing gum, how to reduce sugar craving, along with good and bad cholesterol. Nice tasteful way to end the meeting. Thanks Erma, for your infectious enthusiasm and helping think more about what we put in our mouths at meal times (and in between).

Notes taken by Ken Schug.