Last month our students learned about Electrics and LED Display Circuit Systems from guest educators, Professor Betty Lise Anderson and Lecture Clayton Greenbaum, from the OSU Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Dr. Anderson has been engaging youth in electrics for years through her community outreach STEM programming. OSU Extension is always thrilled to welcome her team over the years to bring authentic hands-on learning to our youth and an opportunity to talk directly to an OSU professor and female engineer, along with her college student mentors that often assist. It’s a great experience for students to explore careers in electrical engineering. Check out our program highlight video to get a better idea of what was shared.
Students started by learning about how to read electrical schematics which are drawings and symbols that indicate the electrical connections of a circuit.
Students also learned a few of the components they used in their LED Display Build below:
Students then applied their knowledge firsthand as they build and connected their LED Displays to a breadboard using a schematic drawing, wires, resistors, diodes, and batteries. They gained a better understanding of the parts that go into LED Displays, by understanding the parts, circuit diagram, and pin connections.
For more resources on LED Display build, instructions, presentation, and complete parts list click here.
Student notes were taken to remember what they learned about simple circuits and their paper circuit project.
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, including 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 circuit. 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.
Judy Walley explains the basic concepts of atoms and electrons as students formed a single circuit where electrons passed through them to power a sound buzzer.
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 (-), 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 build up 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 is 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.
Supply List (we purchased all our supplies through Amazon)
Conductive copper tape
Plain card stock, or templates printed on card stock
We covered a lot of material last month. We thought we’d take advantage of the spooky mystery themes of Halloween and challenge our students to become science detectives, experimenting with hands-on activities involving chromatography, perception of vision, and phosphorescent slime chemistry. We also learned about atoms, electrons, batteries, LEDs, and simple circuits.
Two Minute Video Highlight of Program
The students became CSI lab technicians, tasked with solving a who-done-it pumpkin theft. All that was left at the scene of the crime was a letter demanding cookies! No fingerprints were found, but six suspects were brought in for questioning and all six had different black markers on their person. The marker evidence was tagged and brought to the CSI lab along with the random letter for further analysis. Marker samples were taken and a chromatography test was performed by our young lab technicians.
Chromatography is a laboratory technique for the separation of a mixture (more specifically separation of molecules) and in our case black marker ink molecules. The ink was dissolved in a water solution process of mobile to stationary phase, revealing distinct ink-finger prints for comparative analysis against an ink sample taken from the random note. The students discovered different ink molecules travel at different speeds, causing them to separate and reveal distinct color patterns that could help identify the pumpkin thief from the six suspects.
People don’t often pick up a marker or pen and think of molecules, but ink and paints are made up of atoms and the molecules, like everything, follow rules. Ink and paints follow the standard CPK rule, which is a popular color convention for distinguishing atoms of different chemical elements in molecular modeling (named after the chemists Robert Corey, Linus Pauling, and Walter Koltun). Basically, certain elements are associated with different colors. For example,
Hydrogen = White
Oxygen = Red
Chlorine = Green
Nitrogen = Blue
Carbon = Grey
Sulphur = Yellow
Phosphorus = Orange
Other = Varies – mostly Dark Red/Pink/Maroon
Teays Valley High school mentor, Drew Dean, assists elementary students with our chromatography lab.
PERSISTENCE OF VISION
Persistence of vision refers to the optical illusion that occurs when visual perception of an object does not cease for some time after the rays of light proceeding from it have ceased to enter the eye. The discovery was first discussed in 1824 when an English-Swiss physicist named Peter Mark Roget presented a paper, “Explanation of an Optical Deception in the Appearance of the Spokes of a Wheel when seen through Vertical Apertures” to the Royal Society in London. Shortly after, in 1832, a Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau built a toy that took advantage of the optical illusion trick. (Photo below source: http://streamline.filmstruck.com/2012/01/07/the-persistence-of-persistence-of-vision/)
The toy made images move independently but overlapped them or when placed in a series made them look as if they were walking, running, juggling, dancing. This concept soon laid the foundation for early filmmaking. (Photo below source be: http://1125996089.rsc.cdn77.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/persistence-of-vision-transit.jpg)
The students learned how our eyes report basic imaginary back to the brain, or rather how our eyes perceive shapes, their motion, and their relative position from other objects. The students discovered that eyes are not simple windows to the world. Eyes do not see what is, but instead, see approximations.
The students learned how different objects glow in the dark. First, students learned that heat is a good emitter of light, such as a fire or an old-fashioned light bulb, but heat isn’t always required to make something appear to glow. For example, bedroom glow-in-the-dark stickers, glow sticks, or fireflies do not require heat. The stickers and even certain types of rocks, like the Bologna Stone, require several hours of light to charge them in order to later glow. But glow sticks and fireflies, do not require heat or light, but instead, deal with chemistry where two different elements are mixed together to make a ‘luminescent’ compound.
We talked about phosphorescence and the process in which energy absorbed by a substance is released slowly in the form of light. Unlike the relatively swift reactions in fluorescence, such as those seen in a common fluorescent tube, phosphorescent materials “store” absorbed energy for a longer time, as the processes required to re-emit energy occur less often.
Finally, we let the students become chemists and make their own phosphorescent slime for later glow in the dark fun after the compound was charged by light. The young chemists used measuring devices to concoct their spooky slime recipe.
Make another batch at home with your young chemist:
Add 20.0 mL of glue to cup
Add 15.0 mL of water to cup
Drop of preferred food coloring
Add a drop of glow in the dark phosphorescence paint
Add 12.0 mL of BORAX solution
STIR! It will be runny until you take it out of the cup and start to play with it.
Get ready STEM Club, because we have four guest professionals coming to join us for some lively discussion on their STEM careers, life experiences, and tips when considering working towards a STEM Career. Save the date: Thursday, 21 May 2020 @ 4:00 P.M. (Zoom meeting details are found in our Elementary STEM Club’s Google Classroom.) Click here to watch the recorded club meeting. Our panel includes the following:
WILLIAM MILLER-LITTLE is a M.D. Ph.D. Medical Candidate & Researcher at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Department of Pathology/Immunology actively works in a research laboratory.
MELISSA SMITH is a Phlebotomist & Clinical Lab Supervisor Technician at OSU Medical Center, Outpatient Care East Lab in Columbus, OH (and STEM Club mom.)
KARINA HANKENFOF is a Product Engineer & Lab Technician, specialized in materials and mechanical systems with Cincinnati Testing Labs in Cincinnati, OH (and Teays Valley alumni.)
CLAY BURGETT is a Chemist & Information Technology Manager at the American Chemical Society for the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), a division of the American Chemical Society in Columbus, Ohio.
STEM Club students, please take advantage of this free virtual library youth program made possible through a community collaboration between COSI, DuPont (Circleville), Pickaway County Library, and OSU Extension. Pre-register now!
COSI Science Festival’s Meet A Scientist Youth Program, Saturday, May 9, 2020, 11:00 AM – Peggy Scott, a Dupont polymer scientist, and Christy Yu, a Dupont quality engineer, share their personal experiences and passion for STEM careers to youth and their families. Learn about polymer chemistry, science careers, and engage in a virtual polymer-scavenger hunt from the comfort of your home. Pre-registration is required for this free educational event, go to, go.osu.edu/polymeryouthprogram. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information and passcode to join the meeting. We’ll also send a reminder email prior to the event. #COSISciFest
For more information please email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is the recording of the Polymer Scientist program!
By: Allison Cheek of Bowling Green State University, Candidate of Math and Science Education
This past fall, I was an incoming college freshman and I was told I would be participating in a research group. As a scholar of Bowling Green State University’s Science and Math in ACTION Program, I was allowed to participate in a research group. Research is part of our first-year requirements in the program. I thought that was very intimidating, having to conduct research with a team, as well as moving to a college campus and beginning college classes for the first time. Reflecting over this past year, I could not have been more wrong about being a part of a research group! Being on a research team has been an enlightening and satisfying experience.
I joined a research group that focused on finding the hottest and coolest places on Bowling Green State University’s campus. Bowling Green is part of an urban heat island. An urban heat island occurs when the temperature is higher in a city than the surrounding rural areas because there are so many man-made structures in one place, such as asphalt parking lots, buildings, concrete structures, and cars.
My group and I wanted to find the hottest places on campus and find ways to cool the temperature on campus. We collected data each week at twelve locations throughout campus. Five locations were natural, such as; ponds, grass, and green roofs. Seven locations were man-made, such as roofs and asphalt parking lots. At each location, we recorded the air temperature and surface temperature by using infrared thermometers, as well as FLIR thermal cameras.
After collecting data for eight weeks, we concluded that the parking lots and roofs on campus had the hottest temperatures. After extensive research, we found that solutions to lower the temperatures on Bowling Green’s campus are to plant trees and vegetation, as well as implement green roofs and stone roofs.
Using our conclusive solutions, we wrote a Green Fund Grant Proposal to BGSU to implement stone roofs to coat the roof of a dorm with no air conditioning, to cool temperatures.
Graph 1: Natural vs. Man-made Surface Temperature and Air Temperatures created by Allison Cheek and an aerial image of McDonald Hall’s proposed roof site, at Bowling Green State University.
Seek Out Researching Opportunities
Being part of this research team was extremely rewarding for me. We were able to collect data, collaborate ideas, and attempt to implement a solution to cooling BGSU’s campus. I have seen the scientific method come to life with the process of research. Being able to participate in research at a university has been a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend participating in exploration if given the opportunity. This experience has helped me apply my scientific knowledge and make a difference by improving Bowling Green’s campus.
We, Judy and Meghan, have been exploring and video conferencing about how we could offer Virtual Elementary STEM Club Sessions for your child during the COVID-19 disruption. We developed a short survey that will help us assess what devices your student has available and if there is an internet or a mobile device with Wifi. We understand that online programs have an equity issue, but this problem will take many solutions to overcome, and this may be one of many. Please try to submit the survey by theend of day Friday, 27 March 2020. We’d like to start working on this asap: https://airtable.com/shrKY3ZocUI6oXhcy (Please only fill out the survey once! This is only for students already registered for the STEM Club Program.) We have also emailed this message to parents to cover our bases!)
We’d also like to include a few high school students in this program to help them earn their STEM Certificate and get more experience while sharing some tech skills as we plan and deliver our program. And remember to keep visiting our STEM Blog as we will be posting more stories in the coming weeks.
Remember to stay healthy, keep learning, enjoy the chaos of these close family times, and practice social distancing!
Image source above: What is social distancing and how should you do it? [Getty Images]
Last month our young STEMists tacked chemistrybasics, the periodic table, what makes up an atom, and chemical and physical changes. (Note: 360-video @ the end of the post!)
The students started the club session with an interactive presentation highlighting several careers in chemistry. All the careers mentioned have a short career highlight video to provide good visualizes of what the jobs entail, as well as how much additional education is expected. The students also learned the differences between credentials, such as an Associate Degree, a Bachler’s, a Master’s, and having a PhD. We were only able to allow the kids to pick five or six careers during the club, so please sit down and re-explore the interactive presentation with your child at home!
They learned about atoms, which is made up of three tiny kinds of particles called subatomic particles: protons, neutrons, and electrons. The protons and the neutrons make up the center of the atom called the nucleus and the electrons fly around above the nucleus in a small cloud.
Figure 2: Photo by Meghan Thoreau captures one of Ms. Walley’s many chemistry wearables. The sweater shirt depicts the element Helium. Helium’s atomic parts are pictures to the right.
Figure 3: the periodic table.
The students then began exploring the periodic table and how elements are organized and what different forms the elements exist at room temperature. They further familiarized themselves by playing a couple of games: Element Scrabble, spelling words with the element’s symbols and Periodic Table Battleship, strategically call out the period, the group, and the name of each element to sink their opponent’s ships.
Figure 4: Photos by Meghan Thoreau depicting element scrabble and periodic battleship learning games.
Students applied what they learned from Day 1 about chemical and physical changes to the hands-on chem labs. They learned that chemical changes have certain indicators: change in color,gas produced,temperature change,light produced,precipitate forms,or are irreversible.
The students broke up into groups and did a series of chemical experiments to see first hand what chemical changes look, feel, and smell like.
If slime is still permitted in your household and you’re looking for a Super Fluffy Slime Recipe try this:
put 3 cups shaving cream in a bowl
Add in 1/4-1/2 tsp of baking soda and stir
Mix in 1/2 cup of glue and stir
Add 1 full tbsp of saline solution and a coating on hands
Mix until mixture forms a fluffy slimeball
Next month Dr. Brooke Beam, OSU Extension Educator from Highland County will lead us into learning about 360 technology and video and photo production. The students will be exposed to 360 educational VR experiences for an immersive learning adventure. Testing out the new 360 camera, here’s a clip below:
Figure 6: 360 short video highlight of STEM Club: Chem Basics by Meghan Thoreau produced in GoPro. Retrieve from: https://youtu.be/6JUQny_TdPI.
This September Teays Valley elementary students learned about catapults and the engineering design process which involves problem solving and building solutions through teamwork, designing, prototyping, testing, rebuilding, and continuing to improve and reevaluate their design solutions.
Students learned the basic catapult design concepts and components. They learned about force, accuracy, precision, and angels – and made engineering connections – engineers apply science, writing, and math concepts early into the design process and prototyping before they’re ready to build final products to meet their clients’ needs.
They also learned how force affects the motion of a projectile, the difference between accuracy and precision, as well as learned the optimum angle for launching a projectile the farthest distance, being at 45 degrees.https://wafflesonwednesday.com/accuracy-vs-precision/
Catapults may be an old technology, but engineers still apply many design concepts into modern applications that need to store potential energy to propel a payload. Examples such as clay pigeon shooting or more complex in aircraft catapult take off for short runways.
Our catapult project was a two-part challenge: 1) apply the engineering design process to building a catapult, and 2) use the catapults in a creative writing challenge. The students worked in groups moving through target stations.
They used their catapults to hit a dynamic target that gave them points, letters, words, and images. The students had to add up their points, look up new vocabulary with the acquired letters, add the words and phrases collected, and finally handwrite a group creative writing narrative that they read out loud to their peers.
*Pictures from Teays Valley Elementary Students registered for 2019-2020 STEM Club Program.
Elementary STEM Club just started its third year of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programming, engaging approximately a hundred 4th and 5th graders in after school hands-on STEM challenges and career exploration throughout the academic school year. Judy Walley, Teays Valley High School Chemistry Teacher, and Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator, co-teach the program, which also involves over two dozen high school mentor students. The mentors assist with club activities while themselves gaining both soft and technical skills, leadership, community service, and college/career exploration opportunities.
Physics and Center of Gravity Challenges
STEM education programs can have a positive impact on students’ attitudes towards STEM disciplines, 21st century skills, and a greater interest in STEM careers. Educators throughout Pickaway County have been busy in supporting a number of problem-based learning initiatives, business-teacher partnerships, and STEM teaching initiatives.
Foldscope, Origami Microscope Biology Challenge
Elementary STEM Club is one of those local initiatives that employs hands-on learning through a multidisciplinary approach into many subjects and career paths. The program challenges its youth in chemistry, astronomy, biology, coding, drone technology, connected toys, wearable tech, strategic mind games, escape classrooms, electric circuits, physics, renewable energy, beekeeping, aerospace, flight simulations, aviation, fostering a community service mindset, and more.
Strategic Mind Games and Bee Science Challenges
We invite specialists from the community to teach, share, and engage with the students, such as the Scioto Valley Beekeeping Association, OSU Professors, an Extension Energy Specialist, an OSU Health Dietitian, and the Civil Air Patrol to name a few. Next year we’re hoping to bring some virtual reality, 360 photography, and video production challenges to our students. If you’re interested in sharing a skillset, a technology, a career path, or a meaningful life experience to some amazing and eager-minded students, please email, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’d like to also thank everyone who has been involved in the program over the last two years. It’s been a pleasure and a plunge into the wild side of STEM education, youth workforce development, and promoting a mindset of lifelong learning – all critical to today’s workforce.
Civil Air Patrol and Aerospace Careers
Civil Air Patrol
We ended last year with a great program partnering with Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Civilian volunteers – with a passion for flight, science, and engineering – led the program highlighting STEM careers in aviation, space, cyber security, emergency services, and the military. The whole organization is powered by a team of dedicated civilian volunteers with a passion for aviation and STEM education. If you know of a student, 12-years and up, that has in interest in aviation, would like a chance to fly a plane, work towards their pilot license, attend leadership encampments, career academies, and more, visit http://www.ohwg.cap.gov/.
Aerospace Officer Donna Herald, Lieutenant Casey Green, and Lieutenant Colonel David Dlugiewicz volunteered their time and aviation skills to lead our youth into exploring the history of the Civil Air Patrol, emphasize the value of civic engagement, and underscore the growing deficient of pilots and aerospace specialist in the workforce.
Physics Concepts, Bernoulli Principle on Air Pressure Differential Theory Challenges
The CAP lessons built on previous STEM Club programming that taught physic concepts, the law of gravity, and re-instilled aircraft principal axes, such as the friction, center of gravity, and coding parrot drones challenges. Lieutenant Colonel Dlugiewicz taught the discussed Bernoulli Principle (an air pressure differential theory) and Sir Isaac Newton and the laws of motion and lift. The students engaged in a hands-on activity such as filling an air bag with one breath, leaving a gap between their mouth and the bag to allow a vacuum to form, demonstrating Bernoulli’s principle.
Part of a Airplane and Axis Challenges
Lieutenant Casey Green discussed the parts of an airplane focusing on the components that control an aircraft’s moment and direction. The students broke into groups and rotated between two stations. The first engaged the students in building paper airplane that they cut strategic slits into. The students experimented by folding different components of their airplanes to change and control the overall direction of their paper airplanes. The second station engaged the students in two different sets of CAP flight simulators to further the students’ understandings of the aviation principles taught in the program. The flight simulators provided a semi authentic experience that helps young pilots learn to fly.
Flight Simulator Challenges
Our community has some amazing young minds that are thinking and embrace the many dynamic career pathways of a STEMist. Please get involved and support more STEM programming in your community, it matters.