Wonderful Workshops: Materials Engineering

Scientesses does not stop for Columbus Day! On October 10, I held the fourth workshop. I made a last minute decision to make the theme materials science. If you want to learn more about what a materials engineer does: https://scientesses.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/career-corner-materials-engineer/

I had the lesson planned out for a while, but was waiting until I had enough egg shells. With a dozen, I figured that was good enough and I went to the store to buy a gallon of milk. Once all the materials were packed, I realized how much stuff I actually needed! I had to bring a big storage container in addition to my backpack. To top it off, I had to park in the lot across the street from the library and all the stuff I brought caused me to waddle as I walked into the library.

When I got to the library, I didn’t see any of the girls who normally come. I immediately started to panic thinking they thought the classes weren’t happening because of the holiday. The librarian who normally helps me was on vacation, but there was another one who was extremely helpful and told me that there was a girl there for my workshops and that the workshops were still on the calendar. She even helped me move the tables!

I called all the girls in and even asked some other who I noticed sitting in the library if they would like to join. I had 4 girls end up participating, one set of sisters, and everyone was new.

I was a little nervous about having half my normal amount, but I think it worked out for the activities. We opened with a story of Joan Beauchamp Procter, from my favorite book – “Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World.” She was a zoologist who discovered a new species of lizard.

Our first activity was turning milk into “plastic.” I got the idea from http://www.howweelearn.com/?s=milk+into+plastic. Because there were only 4 girls, we all went to heat up the milk together. I had to heat up one cup of milk per girl, four cups total. Two girls carried the containers while two girls held open the doors. I heated up the milk one cup per time in a Pyrex measuring cup and then poured the warmed milk into a container. In each girl’s container of milk, I added 4 tablespoons of vinegar. I then told them to stir VERY SLOWLY with a plastic fork and when they saw stringy things to take them out and put it on a paper towel. I was really surprised that they were able to get out lumps at a time because when I tried the experiment at home I only got little pieces. Once everyone was satisfied with everything they got out, I gave them a bunch of paper towels to dry the curdles. I told them they could also shape the “wet plastic” and many chose to do a heart or simply a “mountain.” The took their “plastic” home on a plastic bag with paper towels because it takes a couple days to dry.

I shared thse fun facts

After the milk activity was done, we tested the strength of egg shells. For a while I have been have collecting egg shells and have been having my dad cut them in half so they were a uniform height. We used the blunted curve of the egg. I got the idea here: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/MatlSci_p021.shtml#procedure. My original plan was to give each table of four, six eggs to use, but since there were only four girls total, each girl got three. I brought a bunch of my school textbooks from home and everyone chose which they would like to put on their eggs. We had a 1000 page AP Chemistry textbook, a Calculus textbook, a Spanish textbook, a SAT book, an AP English workbook, and an AP US History book. When the first girls’ eggs held up the Calculus book, we moved to the next set of eggs which held up the APUSH book and the Calculus book. At this point, we decided to test the third girl’s eggs and this time we tried as many book as we could. Look at the pictures and the videos; the three egg halves help up all the books! We had to go through my backpack to get more. Without breaking, the egg shells held up the Chem, Calc, APUSH, English, and Spanish books, two binders, and a college magazine. Take a look at the gallery and you will be able to see all the photos and videos. Here are some interesting facts about eggshells I shared with the girls:

We finished with a story about Gerty Cori from my Women in Science book. Check out my blog post about her here: https://scientesses.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/scientist-spotlight-gerty-cori/



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