Hi!! My name is Olivia Pearson and I am a senior at Colby College from Greenwich, Connecticut. This past month I have had the amazing opportunity to work with students from local elementary schools on three experiments that I developed. Growing up, I always loved the sciences and I was very excited to share this passion with others during Janplan. It was my hope that, through my experiments, I would be able to show the students the importance of science and increase their interest in the subject. I had a wonderful month working with so many talented and intelligent kids, and I’m so glad I was able to take this course before I graduated.
My first experiment was an oil spill simulation that allowed the students to test various ways to clean up the ocean after an oil spill. We learned about how oil spills occur and why they can be so dangerous to both animals and the environment. The students learned about density, polarity, and how dispersants function, in addition to the benefits and drawbacks of each oil-cleaning method (Oil Spill Teacher Kit).
My second experiment discussed where plants get their energy from and talked about what makes up some of the foods we eat. Students were able to test different foods for the presence of starch using an iodine solution and recorded their findings. We also tested a leaf that had been in sunlight for the last few hours to see if starch was present. Students also learned about acid-base indicators and were able to test egg whites (with red cabbage juice as the indicator) to see if they were acidic or basic. By doing this, we were able to make green eggs (sans ham–What’s in Your Food? Teacher Kit).
My last experiment was a chemistry mystery and required the students to do some experiments in order to solve it. LuSeal (my favorite toy stuffed seal) was stolen and hidden somewhere inside the classroom. The only thing left by the thief was a ransom note. The students had to use paper chromatography to test the ink of pens found on four apprehended suspects and the ink from the ransom note in order to figure out who took LuSeal. They then had to decode a message written in “invisible ink” (white wax) using watercolor paint to uncover the location of LuSeal and return her to the front of the classroom (Who took LuSeal? Teacher Kit).