Science Ambassadors Presentations:

 

The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio presentation will change your view of everything ranging from iPhones to the spiral formation of hurricane winds. Students will finally realize that math is applicable. In fact, the golden ratio governs everything around us and even in our own DNA molecules. Students will also learn how to measure and calculate ratios in various hands-on activities – measuring each other’s arm spans, heights, etc. and using image-editing software on a laptop to achieve the golden ratio in various photos. By applying mathematical concepts, we can open up possibilities toward advancements in all career fields and industries. Overall, the ideas presented can potentially change the students’ views of mathematics as not a theoretical field but a truly applicable, fascinating, and interdisciplinary field.

Keywords: golden ratio, math, everyday applications, biology, art, music, nature, image-editing software

 

Bioluminescence

In our bright presentation of bioluminescence, we explore the natural phenomenon of light in organisms in our natural world. We discuss primarily the chemical science behind this light, and then discuss evolutionarily why some of these organisms have bioluminescence-- and how they've evolved to use their light effectively. Lastly, we discuss how scientists today have studied and tried to harness this natural source of light for a form of natural energy. Our activity will involve the use of glowing bacteria, which includes a premade bacteria culture, which students will take a sample of and try to cultivate in their own petri dishes. This activity will be left in the teachers care after presenters have left to give the bacteria the opportunity to cultivate and glow properly. Disposal procedures for the petri dishes will be included in another document.

Keywords: energy efficiency, bioluminescence, chemistry, biology, fish, bacteria, light, energy, electrons, chemical reaction, finding Nemo, evolution, fireflies, ATP.

 

Frozen and Particle Simulation

This presentation discusses the basics of particle simulation, using examples from the recent Disney film Frozen. Topics covered include why snow is particularly difficult to simulate (with an accompanying activity), a specific method of particle simulation, and how particle simulation is used in various scientific fields. The presentation focuses specifically on the mathematics and computer science behind particle simulation, and various applications outside of entertainment. The accompanying activity will allow students to explore a particle simulation and change various constraints to understand how changing inputs changes the final product.

Keywords: computer science, math, particle simulation

 

 

 

Color

Color and light is all around us, but what is color actually made of, and how are people able to make sense of it all? In this presentation, we talk about the science behind color, and how people, and animals perceive it. We discuss how you combine colors in new ways to make entirely different colors, and we take it to the next level talking about how computers have allowed us to make even more use of colors in things like art, video games, and even everyday life. Taking everything that we have taught the students in the presentation, we then set them to work on making their own pixel art. Everyone needs a bit of color in their life!

Keywords: Color, art, light, graphics, computers, vision, paint, video games, eyes, animals, math

 

Infectious Diseases

In this presentation, students learn about infectious diseases, how they spread, and how vaccines can limit their reach. Differences between bacterial and viral infections are explored.  The activity demonstrates how easily diseases can spread doing everyday activities such as going to school or visiting the grocery store.  Cups of seltzer and tonic water, syringes, and a black light are used to simulate this.

Keywords: biology, diseases, vaccines, linear and exponential growth, viral, bacterial

 

Forensics

This presentation teaches the science of crime solving, contrasting it with the portrayal of detectives and crime in the media. Some basics of chemistry and biology are discussed, and then applied to solving a fake crime created by the Science Ambassadors. Students will perform chemical tests upon evidence powders “discovered” at a crime scene. Example chemical tests include: solubility, pH, and a flame test (in a VERY CONTROLLED environment. Can be removed on request). After discussing the results in class, students will then be taught about gel electrophoresis and its application to crime solving, focusing on the applications of genetic testing to the future of crime solving.

Keywords: Crime-solving, forensics, chemistry, biology, gel electrophoresis, powder testing

 

Encryption

In this presentation, students will learn about the mathematical principles behind encryption and how it is vital to the existence of the Internet. The Science Ambassadors will have a small group activity during the beginning of presentation that compresses the topic and encourages student participation. After the activity, the class will begin to apply the problem solving aspects of the activity to the real world. Starting with a brief history of the Enigma machine and WWII, the fundamental theories of encryption, decryption and cyphers are introduced on a very basic level. Students will learn about the first computer virus and how it affects computer performance, which will lead into discussing why encryption is important, and strong encryption is crucial. Following this discussion, the mathematical principles behind encryption including topics such as multiplication, factoring and basic number theory are introduced. After the presentation, students will participate in activities surrounding the creation of their own cypher. Three different methodologies will be used in each activity to encourage a well-rounded understanding of encryption.  

Keywords: Encryption, Computer Science, Information Technology, Math, Number Theory

 

Polymers and Biomimicry

This presentation explores the chemistry of polymers and their applications to the field of biomimicry. Students will learn what polymers are and how their chemical structures give them different properties. These properties will be explored to show the vast variety of different materials that can be made using polymers, especially materials that are made of synthetic polymers that mimic natural structures. Students will get to make their own hair gel and will be shown a demonstration of how polymers are made in a chemistry laboratory. This should help to solidify the direct connection between the discoveries that scientists make and the ways in which these discoveries directly impact people’s lives.

Keywords: Chemistry, Biology, Materials Science, Polymers, Biomimicry, Interdisciplinary Science

 

Alternative Energy and Energy Generation

This presentation explains how electricity is generated by turning turbines and explores many of the different ways to turn them, with a focus on renewable resources. Almost every turbine that generates electricity is turned by a convection current of one kind or another, whether the current is in the water, in the air as wind, or is artificially created by boiling water in a power plant. To aid in the understanding of convection currents and electricity generation, kinetic energy, potential energy, and density will be briefly explained during the presentation. Following the presentation, students will get to make their own working lava lamps from vegetable oil and rubbing alcohol. These lava lamps allow the students to see a convection current in action.

Keywords: Energy, Renewable Resources, Environment, Electricity, Convection, Heat Transfer

 

Scientist’s Guide to the Galaxy

Scientist’s Guide to the Galaxy Is a presentation designed to introduce students to different topics in astronomy that they might not necessarily see until high school or taking specific courses in college. Interesting topics on our basic understanding of the universe, which include stellar formation, black holes, meteors, and the search for other habitable planets, blend with some of the newest and most exciting current discoveries. The hope is that students will gain a broader understanding of our universe outside of just our solar system, and think of new and exciting ways that this knowledge might benefit their lives and what they can contribute to the field of astronomy.

There is also an activity that is run on the computer program called Stellarium which is like having a portable observatory. Students will use the program to look at different objects as they would appear in the night sky and see all of the different types of objects that fill our observable universe. These objects could include anything from the red supergiant star Betelgeuse (or its popular name “Beetle Juice”) to the Crab Nebula.

We recognize that astronomy can sometimes be an uncomfortable subject for those students that come from a religious background, and we have tried our best to be considerate of their beliefs. To that end, we have tried to deliver our presentation in a way that merely shows what we have observed with our telescopes and other instruments, and do not make any suggestion as to the purpose or origin of those observations.

 

Colonization and Terraforming

The presentation shows how we have begun to take steps towards colonizing other worlds and the potential of terraforming other worlds. From studies into space travel and self-sufficiency to the theoretical ideas for future space settlements. The process of colonization is as follows: traveling there, creating a civilization (i.e. building homes, plants, etc.), then expanding further from there. This process can take decades and a large amount of scientific research and engineering will come from this. Once colonized, terraforming a planet to feel more like earth is a possibility. Terraforming is the process of transforming a planet into an earthlike planet. The main process of doing this is to first raise the temperature of the planet. Once the planet is a suitable temperature, the forming of an atmosphere is important to lock the heat in. After an atmosphere is formed, all that is need is water to start the process of forming life. All of these processes, whether it be colonizing or terraforming, will require many scientists and engineers to successfully complete.

 

To be interactive with the students, we will have them build their own space colonies out of play-doh and let them choose which planet or celestial body the colony is being built on.

 

Science Of Sound

This presentation is intended to educate students about the nature of sound--what it actually is on a physical level, as well as the means by which humans perceive sound and make use of this perception to apply it in artistic and innovative ways. It begins by discussing the basic physics of sound, including the concept of waves, wavelength, frequency, and the relationship between these. We also discuss the way these frequencies can combine to produce harmonies, as well as beats when the frequencies are close to each other. Our bodies have adapted to utilize these physical properties, as the sound waves resonate our inner ear, causing our brain to understand these vibrations in the air as recognizable sound. This knowledge is applied by scientists, musicians, and engineers to compose and play music, adapt this music, and create inventions to help those who are hard of hearing. A possible hands on project is allowing the students to create their own basic musical instruments, utilizing the concept of wavelength and its relationship to frequency the physical properties of the instrument.

Keywords: Physics, biology, music, sound, waves, resonance

 

Bottle Biology: Effects of road salt on our ecosystems

Our presentation looks at the reason why we add salt to our roads and what kind of negative impacts it can have on the surrounding environments. Lastly, we discuss possible solutions to this issue. This presentation focuses on the levels of the ecosystem, the alternatives to road salt, and how the water cycle pushes road salt from the road to the ground and into our water sources. This leads to negative impacts to the environment and can lead to plant life damage and cause harm to other organisms. Our hands on activity allows the students to build their own mini ecosystem using an empty 2-liter bottle. We will plant Brassica rapa (a fast growing mustard plant) and water our ecosystem with water, 2% salt solution, and a 4% salt solution. Students will then be asked to make observations as their plant grows.

Key words: ecosystem, salts, water cycle, pollution, ecology, biology, plant life, bottle biology, life

 

Healing Brain Injury with Hormones

This presentation allows students to be exposed to the functions of hormones that are not typically taught in their classes: their ability to heal. With a focus on the long-term and devastating effects of brain injury, students will learn why the brain cannot heal itself like a broken bone heals. The presentation then focuses on the general function of hormones within the body, and their action at receptors in the brain. A specific hormone called progesterone will be introduced along with explanation of the current clinical trials and research underway. With the advent of these exciting new treatments, students will take away the concept of innovation when looking to the human body to solve conditions that cannot be treated by conventional pharmaceutical drugs.

Keywords: biology, neuroscience, endocrinology, growth homeostasis, cerebrospinal fluid, hormone, concussion, receptor

 

Camouflage

This presentation describes what camouflage is, how it works, and how it evolved over time. In order to describe how camouflage developed and works, we first briefly explain how vision works in humans and animals, and how flaws in the way our vision works allow for optical illusions and camouflage. Next, we describe how natural selection works, and more specifically how it leads to the evolution of camouflage in both predator and prey. Then, we look at how scientists and engineers have used the idea of camouflage in our clothing and technology.

Keywords: Camouflage, Natural Selection, Vision, Optical Illusions