Middle School has been highly focused upon foundational chemistry concepts since returning from winter break. Our chief concern has been learning about atoms and sub-atomic particles, and specifically how the atoms of different elements react with one another and form bonds. They memorized the first 20 elements on the Periodic Table (along with its structure based on arrangement of electron levels) and we carried out several related experiments and demonstrations.
Among these was an exploration of electrolysis, in which the students used an electrical current to break the covalent bonds of H20 and the ionic bonds of NaCl to release those isolated elements. We also had fun with the decomposition reaction known as "Elephant Toothpaste" in which hydrogen peroxide is broken up using the catalase in baking yeast. And most recently, we compared the differences between chemical change and physical change, looking at the dissolution of polystyrene in acetone as an example.
Toothpaste aside, the "elephant" in the room has been Science Fair! Our DGS event is coming up on 3/11, and the middle schoolers have been hard at work finalizing procedures, testing hypotheses through experimentation, and recording their observations. We are nearing the end of the experimentation phase, and students will begin constructing data tables and charts, along with writing conclusions and abstracts. If they have not already done so, all students should acquire a 3-section display board. I recommend the standard 36x48 size which can be found at Staples (or Amazon). Any color is fine, but obviously it's tougher to write directly on darker shades. We are looking forward to inviting our parents onto campus on Friday 3/11 at 1:30 pm to explore our projects and ask all of our students questions regarding their efforts!
We had a few great Master Class sessions these past two weeks. Alex shared his experience doing competitive simulation racing online, and Izzy discussed her passion for figure skating. It was really cool to learn about these skills, which obviously are not generally displayed in our day-to-day school setting.
Have a great week!