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Upper El (1/4-1/8): Chemical Energy in the World.

Our first week back after the break, we wrote new stories, began building bottle rockets, and learned how chemical energy is used in the world.

Our weekly story prompt this week was "royal." So, a lot of stories about kings, queens, princes, and princesses came my way. They made for good reading!

Before we jumped into building bottle rockets, we imagined ourselves as being on an engineering team with the task of building the best rocket possible.

We brainstormed together what we'd need for our rockets and what other things could be added that might not be necessary. Also, we spoke a bit about the overall benefit that comes with working as a team. With everyone building rockets slightly differently, we're going to learn far more about what helps rockets fly and what might keep them more earth-bound than if we only made one rocket!

Thursday, our other online day, we dove into engineering and chemical energy in the world. First, I asked students to contemplate how we could spin a rod using chemical energy? This is a question we've ended every unit with because if we can turn a rod, we can generate electricity just like how most generators work.

Using the different types of reactions we learned in class, students came up with some great ideas. Then, we dove into where and how we actually see chemical energy at work—car engines, heating food in barbeques, burning coal, and power plants were some of the things we discussed. That opened the door for another question. What's the limitation with chemical energy as a fuel source?

From there, we spoke about renewable vs. non-renewable energy and some other drawbacks of fossil fuels. We ended our discussion by learning about how we use chemistry to create new materials like steel and other composites—particularly how they're used in the medical world in joint replacements, and so on.

Friday, our almost—but not even close—snow day, we finished up our weekly stories and finalized our bottle rocket builds. We're all looking forward to launch-day next week!

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