We are going to have a little chemistry fun this Saturday, May 8th @ 10:00 a.m. with experiments focused on chemical reactions! We’ll be sending home STEM tots to create some goofy glow gels, fizz wizards, and experiment with jamming jelly reactions!
IMPORTANT: Join this virtual meeting from your kitchen if possible and try to have your parents near by for this program, because we are going to be mixing materials that could get a little messy. We are sending home chemicals, powders, and dyes to mix for our experiments. Also, make sure you have some play cloths and not your favorite top in case anything stains. We’ll provide a smock in your STEM tote, but better safe than sorry.
Join Pickaway County Library’s Youth Services and OSU Extension as we create a Rube Goldberg’s Simple Machine together in our all ages virtual hands-on science program, Thursday, May 6, 2021, @ 6:00 p.m.Registration is required for this free educational virtual one-hour event, click here to register.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing personalized meeting details and a passcode to joining Zoom. We’ll also send a reminder email prior to the event. Participants will need a smartphone or laptop.
We will be making our machines out of simple household items and toys. Get creative and take a look around your house and see what supplies you can find to build your machine with us. Here the supplies list we’ll be using:
We very much hope you can join in. This learning event is great for young learners or the entire family to participate in!
Students learned about the Red Planet and the history of Mars exploration that date back to the early 1960s. We saw the first close-up photographs of Mars lunar-type impact craters in 1964 from NASA’s Mariner 4 and started studying its solar winds. Six decades later we are witnessing another phase of global exploration of Mars. Last July 2020 approximately 7 months ago three spacecraft launched to Mars.
Why did they all launch around the same time?
Launches to Mars are best attempted every 26-months when our two planets align in their orbits for the shortest trip.
February’s Mars Missions
The first mission to reach Mars was the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hope Mission. The country has never launched a mission beyond Earth’s orbit before and hopes to drive a new economy around science and not oil. Hope’s pro entered Mars’ orbit on February 9, 2021, and will stay in orbit between 12,430 and 26,700 miles above the surface, completing a revolution of Mars once every 55-hours studying the atmosphere of Mars and the AMrtian weather.
The second interplanetary mission to reach Mars came from China’s Tianwen-1 (Heavenly Questions) robotic spacecraft consisting of an orbiter, deployable camera, lander, and rover. The spacecraft entered Mars’ orbit on February 10, 2021. China may become the third nation to reach the surface of Mars! The science objectives its mission hopes to achieve:
create a geological map of Mars
explore the characteristics of the soil and potentially locate water-ice deposits
analyze the surface material composition
investigate the atmosphere and climate at the surface
understand the electromagnetic and gravitational fields of the planet
Photo sources: https://www.cnet.com/news/chinas-tianwen-1-mars-mission-is-arriving-at-the-red-planet-what-you-need-to-know/ and https://www.cnet.com/news/chinas-tianwen-1-mars-mission-is-arriving-at-the-red-planet-what-you-need-to-know/
The NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover landed in Jezero Crater on Mars on February 18, 2021, and will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA’s quest to explore the past habitability of Mars. The rover has a drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil, then store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission that would ferry them back to Earth for detailed analysis.
Perseverance will also test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars, including deploying the first Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, a technology demonstration to test the first powered flight on Mars.
Earth Benefits from Space Exploration
Private companies and government space programs are shaping the future of space exploration. The research and engineering effects going into these missions have a direct benefit to Earth as many of the technologies and uses can also be applied here on Earth. Read this Culture Trip article, The Earthly Benefits of a Mission to Mars, to learn more.
Hands-on Virtual Mars Base Camp Challenges
Each club member received Mars Base Camp Kit and together we explored Mars challenges together virtually through Zoom. The Landing Zone Surveyor challenge allows youth to discover features on the surface of Mars that are important, selecting a safe landing site, learning about the Martian landscape, and determine where to set up a future base camp.
NASA lives and breaths the engineering design process. There have been over a dozen surface landing attempts to land on the surface of Mars, but with each attempt, a learning process occurs through the successes, failures, and re-engineering for future space missions.
Image from Planetary.org
Together we all dropped parachutes onto a grided Mars surface. This involved some skills and unknown variables in the parachute deployment. There were several possible outcomes, some failures, and some successful rover landings.
Together we identifying the different landing sites both visually through photographs and imagery. We shared reading out loud the associated landing site cards and gained a better understanding of the varied Martian landscape. We learned a lot of essential geography terms, such as channel, dune, fault, ice cap, impact crater, lander, lava flow, orbiter, remote sensing, rover, and volcano, and learned how they compared to the geography of Earth.
STEM club member participating virtually in Landing Zone Surveyor Challenge
The second Mars challenged we tackled was the Red Planet Odyssey. This activity involved learning more about simple circuits, simple motors, power, mechanical gears, and how they all work together with using the engineering design process to build a STEM rover and solve basic mechanical problems.
We started with the basics. The atom is the smallest observable thing in the universe. We reviewed that atoms are comprised of smaller components called protons, neutrons, and electrons. These components were thought to be the fundamental building blocks of the universe until we discovered that even protons and neutrons have smaller components inside called quarks. A quark is a type of elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei. (1) Watch the video below, an elementary student explains the breakdown from matter, atom, to a quark:
Stars Remind Us the Past is Real and Ever Expanding
The night sky has always fascinated humans beings and their desire to discover new things and find reasons for how things work and space exploration is no exception. Humans have created surreal technologies to observe space and its distant objects – such as the Hubble Telescope – which for the past 30-years has been orbiting Earth at 17,000 miles per hour and providing some amazing visual discoveries. The technology helps us to magnify tiny spectrums in space and allows us to view them with the naked eye. The space telescope is 43.5 feet long or about the size of a school bus and weighs as much as 3-African elephants or 24,500-lbs. From space, it provides resolution 10-times better than even the larger telescopes on Earth and can see a dime clearly from 86-miles away.
TOP LEFT: Hubble Telescope compared to a school bus. TOP RIGHT: location of the Lagoon Nebula, a giant interstellar cloud in the constellation Sagittarius. It is one of only two star-forming nebulae faintly visible to the eye from mid-norther latitudes. BOTTOM LEFT: new image of the Lagoon Nebula from the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. BOTTOM RIGHT: the zoomed-in image of the Lagoon Nebula from the Hubble Telescope. (2)
We live here on Earth, which is known as a perfect planet due to its size, placement in our solar system, and the natural resources available. The sun is the largest thing in our solar system, taking up 99.86% of our entire solar system’s mass. Another way of thinking about it is comparing the sun to the size of a basketball, then Earth would be the size of a sesame seed. Our solar system contains 8-planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Our solar system is located inside the Milky Way Galaxy, but there are billions of other galaxies. To put our galaxy’s size into perspective, imagine our sun to be a microscopic white blood cell, then the Milky Way would be the size of the United States.
Wrapping Your Mind Around the Size of the Universe Can Hurt Your Brain
Space is infinitely large. The furthest observable known universe is around 14-billion light-years away, which is around the time the big bang happened, meaning light has only had enough time to travel 12 billion light-years since the beginning of time. For most space objects, we use light-years to describe their distance. A light-year is the distance light travels in one Earth-year. One light-year is about 6-trillion miles in distance. Although we can only observe objects 12-billion light-years away, the estimated size of the total universe in a sphere shape is 92 billion light-years and constantly expanding outwards to this day! The video below does a great job trying to put the scale of the Universe into perspective:
Girls Who Code currently is accepting applications for its Virtual Summer Immersion Program (SIP). During this FREE, two-week virtual program, participants will learn the computer science skills needed to make an impact, get an inside look in the tech field and join a supportive lifelong sisterhood — all while being virtually hosted by influential companies, such as Twitter, AT&T, Bank of America, Walmart and more.
Girls and non-binary students in grades 9-11 are eligible to apply. SIP is 100% free and need-based stipends of up to $300 are available for those who qualify. Low tech? No tech? No problem! Girls Who Code can help.
Apply here before the early acceptance deadline in mid-February and remember to mark the Ohio Department of Education as the Community Partner on the application to receive priority consideration.
Join the Girls Who Code Application Party. Sign up to attend the SIP ApplicationParty on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. EST. Join a Girls Who Code staff member and other students to begin the application and get answers to questions.
Below are stock trading challenges paired with our second club meeting on Financial Literacy and the Stock Market. Please hold back the urge to click on the challenges until our club meeting on Jan. 30th @ 10:00 a.m.
Challenge #1 – Replay the interactive Careers in Finance presentation to help decide if finance is the career pathway for you!
Challenge #2 – Investment Banker Skillset: (skills good for many career paths!)
Challenge #3 – Trading Terms: complete the sentences:
SAVE THE DATE – January 16th and January 30th at 10:00 a.m.
This month’s club meetings will focus on financial literacy by bringing iNVEST YOUNG to our Virtual Elementary STEM Club! We’ve invited Dr. Laquore Meadows, OSU Extension Area Leader and Program Director, who will teach two interactive educational sessions designed to teach youth ages 10 – 17 about long and short term investing in the stock market. Concepts taught throughout the simulated Young Investor meetings will lead to the creation of individual mock stock portfolios and will expose students to concepts that align directly with Ohio’s Learning Standards for Mathematics. Furthermore, given the global reach of the financial markets, this fun educational experience helps to fulfill our STEM Club’s mission to empower youth for success as a citizen in a global community. (STEM Totes will be deployed on January 14th!)
iNVESTYOUNG is designed to teach students about methods in which they can utilize the stock market to accomplish their financial goals regardless of their choice to attend college or not and/or their selected career path. Anyone regardless of job title or degree status can put their money to work through making sound investment decisions.
Students will participate in a highly interactive activity where they will learn how the stock market works through building a personalized stock portfolio. Students will also learn strategies to make informed investment decisions by analyzing the following:
Bullish and Bearish Markets
After the conclusion of the sessions, students will be invited to participate in the iNVEST YOUNG Challenge in which they will use CNBC, Yahoo Finance, CurrentKids, NewsByKids, and other financial media sources to monitor, record, and report back to their teacher how well their stock portfolio performed the week following their iNVEST YOUNG experience. Incentives will be offered to students with the top three performing stock portfolios.
By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator, Community Development & STEM, Pickaway County
Simple Circuits with Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator, and Judy Walley, Teays Valley Chemistry Teacher. Full presentation link: go.osu.edu/simplecircuits
Why Understanding Simple Circuits is Important?
Basic circuit knowledge is important for many different disciplines, engineering, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. It’s also useful knowledge around this time of year when you may need to repair a string of old holiday lights? Understanding and building simple circuits show us important concepts learned in school that can describe useful real-world systems, like devices we use every day, cell phones, light switches, Chromebooks, cars, etc.
The electric charge that flows through your house is called your electric circuits. This carries useful energy through your house that you can transform into other forms of energy to do various tasks. The US standard household circuit has an effective voltage that takes 120-volts. Volts represent the energy per unit charge. We discussed these basic building blocks of simple circuits in STEM Club this month. Our hands-on simple circuit design challenge uses 3-volt lithium batteries. Before jumping into our design challenges we’ll cover a few basic circuitry concepts and energy principles.
The principle of conservation of energy is an effective tool in solving problems and understanding how different forms of energy directly impact our lives. There are also benefits to this principle. These include recycling of materials, lower energy costs for consumers, less pollution due to a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, and less harm to animals and the environment. We watched a short video, from Two Minute Classroom, that explained the basic concepts of how energy transforms itself into other forms and never truly disappears or is destroyed.
Judy Walley led students through the basic concepts of atoms and electrons, because, without the flow of electrons, we have no electric circuit to work with.
Screenshot of our recorded club meeting where Judy Walley explains the basic concepts of atoms and electrons.
Walley also explained the chemistry of a battery and how chemical reactions occur inside the battery that causes an imbalance or a build-up of electrons (-) on one side of the battery over the other, hence why one side or one terminal of the battery is negative (-) and the other positive (+). We also introduced the basic materials for our hands-on design challenges and explain how a battery works.
Screenshot from our virtual simple circuit presentation.
How a Battery Works
Batteries are important to everyday life. Batteries are essential to most electrical devices. They exist in our cars, cell phones, laptops, and other electronic appliances, and serve as critical backup sources of electricity in telecommunications, public transportation, and medical devices. A battery is essentially a container full of chemicals that produce electrons (-). Inside the battery itself, a chemical reaction produces the electrons.
The battery is a device that stores chemical energy and converts it to electrical energy. The chemical reactions in a battery involve the flow of electrons from one material (electrode) to another, through an external circuit. The flow of electrons provides an electric current that can be used to do work. In our case, students use copper tape to build a paper circuit to create light energy with an LED. Below depicts the inner wors of a battery.
Screenshot of how a battery works from our virtual simple circuit presentation.
The students learned that a battery has three main parts: an anode (-), a cathode (+), and the electrolyte that separates the two terminal ends on the battery. We discussed the chemical reaction happening inside the battery that causes electrons (-) to buildup on one side of the battery causing one end to be negatively charged (-) and the other end positively charged (+). This buildup causes an imbalance of electrons (-), that want to travel to the other side of the battery, but can’t move freely until a conductive circuit is completely looped for the electrons to travel through; in our case, the conduit is copper tape.
When a circuit is complete, or a loop created, the electrons will flow through the conductive paths racing to reach the other side of the battery terminal. When the electrons flow through the loop, the chemical energy inside the battery is transformed into electrical energy running through the circuit. When all electrons (-) make it to the other side, the battery stops working. All of the electric energy was transformed into other forms of energy.
Electrical energy allows us to do work by transforming energy into other forms. We use LEDs in our paper circuit design challenge because it’s a simple way to show how electric energy is transformed or converted into light energy. We could replace the LED with a simple motor and the motor would convert electrical energy into kinetic.
Screenshot of simple circuit components and electricity concepts from our virtual simple circuit presentation.
What’s a Diode?
Both LEDs and motors can easily be added to simple circuits. However, LEDs are somewhat more restrictive than motors, because LEDs are diodes. A diode only allows current to flow in one direction. From the cathode (-) leg of the LED through the anode (+) leg. Note that the anode on a battery is negatively charged, but the anode on an LED is positively charged! The correct way to connect an LED legs to the battery terminals is positive to positive/anode to cathode and negative to negative/ cathode to anode. Study the image above if this is confusing. If the LED or battery are flipped in the wrong configuration then no current or electrons flow through the LED because the diode only allows for current to flow in one direction.
A motor does not have a diode, therefore current can flow in either direction, and depending on how the motor is connected to the battery will decide what direction the motor turns left/right, or moves forwards/backward.
As a virtual group, we challenged ourselves with a few NearPod activities to reinforce our electricity concepts before beginning our hands-on paper circuit challenges. A paper circuit is a functioning electronic circuit built on a paper surface instead of a printed circuit board (PCB). Projects can range from greeting cards to origami, to traditional art such as paintings or drawings. STEM totes went home with the students and included paper circuit design challenges and supplies.
Conductive copper tape
Plain card stock, or templates printed on card stock
We went through two paper circuit-build challenges with an independent bonus design challenge. The first design is depicted below. It had a basic road map for us to follow, which we added labels to ensure our understanding of which direction the electrons were flowing and which direction the current was flowing as well as how to position and connect the battery and LED to the circuit correctly.
Once you start learning the basics of paper circuit design you can explore more crafty designs to create circuit cards for all occasions and topics. A few ideas shared at our club meeting:
By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator, Community Development & STEM, Pickaway County
Entomology is the study of insects. More than one million different species of insect have been identified to date. Insects are the most abundant group of animals in the world and live in almost every habitat. Entomology is essential to our understanding of human disease, agriculture, evolution, ecology, and biodiversity.
Entomology is an ancient science, dating back to the establishment of biology as a formal field of study by Aristotle (384-322 BC). There are even earlier references to the use of insects in daily life: such as the growing of silkworms that began 4700 BC in China, which was an important part of peasant life in China, as early as 4000 BC. More than a hundred years ago, entomologists formed a society, the Entomological Society of America (ESA), to promote the science and study of entomology in the United States. (i)
On our second day, Future Entomologist, we explored our previous bug topics a bit deeper and also focused on the diverse career pathways open to Entomologists. We also focused on the chemistry behind some insects (such as color change, odor, etc.,) and some interactive bug challenges to strengthen our understanding of insect characteristics and insect identification.
Meeting agenda for Future Entomology with Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator. Full presentation link: go.osu.edu/entomology
Who Needs Entomologists?
Entomologists have many important jobs, such as the study of the classification, life cycle, distribution, physiology, behavior, ecology, and population dynamics of insects, but their scoop of study is pretty diverse, ranging from agricultural pests, urban pests, forest pests, medical pests, and veterinary pests and bug control. Entomologists are scientists, researchers, teachers, and consultants and can work for private companies, universities, or government agencies.
There are more than 8,000 men and women who work as professional entomologists in the United States (more worldwide) and are sought over for their specializations and expertise. They have careers in teaching; working as Extension Entomologists (public educators who provide information on insects and their management in agricultural and urban environments); raising bees; enforcing quarantines and regulations; performing insect survey work; consulting on integrated pest management topics; consulting in the construction sector or cosmic industry, selling insecticides; controlling pests; and conducting research on insect classification, taxonomy, biology, ecology, behavior, and control – and these jobs are found both local, national, and around the world; e.g. employed by the United Nations. Like to travel? Here are is a random job pull from the United Nations job board.
The greatest number of entomologists are employed in some aspect of economic or applied entomology that deals with the control of harmful insects. There are also tens of thousands of amateur entomologists and hobbyists who study insects without pay and who provide valuable information on insect distributions, seasonal activity patterns, identification, life cycles, and behavior. (ii)
Slide from Future Entomology unit created by Meghan Thoreau in Keynote.
Career possibilities for graduates with a B.S. degree in Entomology include:
Agricultural, biological or genetic research
Consulting (agricultural, environmental, public health, urban, food processing)
State and federal government agencies
Conservation and environmental biology
Natural resources management
Veterinary, medical, or graduate school
Seed, fertilizer, and chemical research companies
Sometimes the best career opening decisions come from learning how others may have indirectly or directly stumbled into their chosen career pathway. Careers are not always linked to taking the right courses in college, but understanding personal strengthens and skillsets, as well as, letting the randomness of life decision making along with the people/network you may know all start laying the foundations for our various career paths. Read more, How Three Entomologists Found Careers in Industry.
Interactive Activity Challenge for Readers
Watch this short clip, Arthropods: the Differences Between Spiders and Insects and then click and run through the ‘Parts of an Insect and Spider’ challenges and try to get your name placed on our STEMist scoreboard! You can also play our Kahoots Insect Trivia, game link below as well.
Below are two interactive Entomology WordWall Challenges from our November 21, 2020, STEM Club meeting!
1. Parts of an Insect
2. Parts of a Spider
3. Kahoots Bug Trivia
Join at www.kahoot.it and enter the Game Pin shared live during our club meeting!