I am trying an experiment, here, on Homeschooling United. I received an email from Alan asking if he could submit a “guest” article about a science project he is involved in promoting. Because Alan is based in the New York area and Homeschooling United is based in the heartland, we have never met or collaborated on previous projects, but the idea of promoting academic curiosity among the readership and their children was definitely something that captured my interest. Good luck!
Below are the details of an initiative to promote curiosity and interests in chemistry. I hope you will consider checking out the website and projects and enjoy the processes of science exploration. I am also interested to hear of your successes, failures, and any stories as you progress through this journey. Please feel free to comment here as I will leave the comment thread open on this post.
In his State of the Union address a few days ago, President Barack Obama claimed that “We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair.” However it can be hard to get students motivated about studying science. Enter the International Year of Chemsitry (IYC), a yearlong, international celebration of chemistry organized by some of the top international chemistry establishments in the world. As Andrew Liveris (president of the International Council of Chemical Associations, one main sponsor of the event) notes, “95 percent of the things that touch our lives — such as food, water, shelter, transportation, and medicine — are made possible through chemistry,” and the purpose of the IYC is to help show people just how fundamental chemistry is in everyday life.
To get students to participate in the celebration, the IYC devised a Global Experiment called “Water: A Chemical Solution,” which has the potential to be the largest chemistry experiment of al time. Students from across the world will participate in the water themed experiments by testing how chemistry can be used to purify water so it can be consumed. More specifically there are four activities that students will complete while taking part in the experiment:
4) solar still
Here is a more comprehensive look into what students will be examining in each activity.
Acidity – In the first activity students will use pH strips and learn about the pH scale in order to measure the pH of their local body of water. They finish by learning methods for testing the reliability of their results.
Salinity – The Salinity activity provides students the experience of making their own water meter and measuring the conductivity and salt presence in their particular water sample.
Filtration – Students must work with household or classroom found materials to construct a functioning water filtration system. In addition, they must test out and rank the filtration abilities of different materials. Then they will end this activity by carrying out an actual water treatment and filtration and record their findings on the Global Experiment website.
Solar Still – The Solar Still activity provides students practice in alternative methods of purifying water, with specific attention to the distillation process.
The Global Experiment assumes that teachers will direct students when they are carrying out each experiment, but the experiment urges any adults willing to get involved to provide guidance and supervision. It does not matter if a parent or teacher has an education in chemistry; the experiment comes with detailed directions with regard to the methods and tools necessary for the successful completion of the modules. According to the IYC, the experiments will cost very little, if anything at all, to get as many people participating as possible. Finally, they created the experiments based on the level of education for those involved. Elementary school students can follow simpler experiments while those in middle or high school have more challenging and intricate tasks.
The International Year of Chemistry kicks off February 6th, and the Global Experiment runs all year, so if you think that your child or your class would have fun participating in the experiment visit the website! It is a simple yet terrific method to get students engaged with science, and it also gets students involved in assisting to solve the issue many countries have finding clean drinking water. When Liveris was in grade school he says he became “hooked on the knowledge that chemistry would open the door to innovations that would make the world a better place.” With any luck, by becoming involved with the Global Experiment, more and more students will begin to feel this way!
Alan Parker is a blogger based out of New York, NY who writes about alternative energy, green business, sustainability, and climate change. Follow on Twitter @AGreenParker