Day 173: Welcome to Jeopardy

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With 15 minutes to spare on a Friday I decided to share my love of Jeopardy and tell the students about the current run of Julia Collins (19 wins and counting). Some had never seen the show and few knew how it worked. They loved it and tried to beat me and the contestants to some of the answers. I think I may do this once a week in advisory next year. To girls who feel like they need to dumb themselves down, she offers this piece of advice: “If someone doesn’t like you because you’re smart, that’s their problem.”

Day 169: Salinity by Evaporation


IS II students determined the salinity of a sample using evaporation. Clearly this is not a great method but it is good for them to practice a procedure and they better understand the concept of salinity in parts per thousand (S o/oo). They are able to calculate experimental error and discuss the reasons for it. The samples are placed in a drying oven overnight.

Day 160: TSD Diagram

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Getting this diagram ready to spring on my students tomorrow. Great way to show how we can determine salinity if we know density and temperature. Will show them how we use a hydrometer to find density. They will do a salinity lab the next day and determine salinity in ppt (o/oo) by evaporation.

Day 158: Radiation Lab – It’s Easy as Alpha, Beta, Gamma


With apologies to the Jackson 5 . . . students in IS I did a neat lab that is courtesy of Advancing Science at Gettysburg (PA) College. Students used radiation detectors and Logger Pro to measure the background radiation and then the radiation counts from alpha, beta, and gamma sources. They shielded the sources with paper, plastic, aluminum foil, and lead. Quite an eye opener to see how energetic gamma particle are!

Day 157: Unknown Sand Lab – II

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On the left, IS II students work on finding the settling velocity of one the their 8 sand samples. Instructions and some diagrams are shared with them via Google drive (hence the laptops). Students work in teams of 4 and they are really good at dividing the tasks and working together. Overall a great lab ( click here for instructions and here for the descriptions).

Day 156: Unknown Sand Lab


Today we (IS II students and I) reviewed the procedures for a multi-day lab where they collect qualitative and quantitative data on 8 unknown sand samples. They describe the samples and determine grain size, settling velocity, roundness, luster, and the terrigenous vs biogenous component. I then give them descriptions and they have to match their samples with the correct locations. This year the sands are from Bermuda, Galapagos Islands, Daytona Beach, Miami, Uruguay, San Diego, Maui, and Costa Rica. There is great detective work and students always enjoy seeing the sand under magnification.

Day 155: Conservation of Matter


IS I students investigated the Law of Conservation of Matter by reacting vinegar and baking soda and attempting to contain the products (that included carbon dioxide gas). Good way to show them that their results will be less than perfect (delay in putting balloon on bottle, diffusion of gas through balloon). The diffusion was interesting for them to see as the mass continued to drop as the bottle ad balloon sat on the electronic scale. Hard for them to believe that balloons are full of holes!