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Experiment Central

Understanding Scientific Principles


Through Projects

Experiment Central
Understanding Scientific Principles
Through Projects
Second Edition

Experiment Central
Understanding Scientific
Principles Through Projects
Second Edition
M. Rae Nelson

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Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Experiment central : understanding scientific principles through projects.
2nd ed. / M. Rae Nelson, Kristine Krapp, editors.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978 1 4144 7613 1 (set) ISBN 978 1 4144 7614 8 (vol. 1)
ISBN 978 1 4144 7615 5 (vol. 2) ISBN 978 1 4144 7616 2 (vol. 3)
ISBN 978 1 4144 7617 9 (vol. 4) ISBN 978 1 4144 7618 6 (vol. 5)
ISBN 978 1 4144 7619 3 (vol. 6)
1. Science--Experiments--Juvenile literature. I. Nelson, M. Rae. II. Krapp,
Kristine M.
Q164.E96 2010
507.8--dc22

2009050304

Gale
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7613 1 (set)
7614 8 (vol. 1)
7615 5 (vol. 2)
7616 2 (vol. 3)
7617 9 (vol. 4)
7618 6 (vol. 5)
7619 3 (vol. 6)

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Table of Contents

VOLUME 1: A-CH

Readers Guide xxi


Parents and Teachers Guide xxv
Experiments by Scientific Field xxvii
Words to Know xxxix
1. Acid Rain 1

Acid Rain and Animals: How does acid rain affect brine shrimp? 5
Acid Rain and Plants: How does acid rain affect plant growth? 9
Acid Rain: Can acid rain harm structures? 12
2. Adhesives 19

Material Adhesion: How do various glues adhere to different


materials? 22
Adhesives in the Environment: Will different environmental
conditions affect the properties of different adhesives? 26
3. Air 33

Air Density: Does warm air take up less room than cool air? 36
Convection Currents: How can rising air cause weather
changes? 39
4. Air and Water Pollution 45

Pollutant Bioindicators: Can lichens provide clues to an areas


air pollution? 51
Eutrophication: The effect of phosphates on water plants. 55
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5. Animal Defenses 61

Camouflage: Does an animals living environment relate to the


color of the animal life? 63
Ladybug Threats: How do ladybugs defend themselves when
they feel threatened? 65
6. Annual Growth 71

Tree Growth: What can be learned from the growth patterns of


trees? 74
Lichen Growth: What can be learned from the environment by
observing lichens? 79
7. Bacteria 85

Bacterial Growth: How do certain substances inhibit or promote


bacterial growth? 90
Bacterial Resistance: Can bacteria gain resistance to a substance
after exposure? 95
8. Biomes 103

Building a Temperate Forest Biome 107


Building a Desert Biome 108
9. Bones and Muscles 113

Bone Loss: How does the loss of calcium affect bone strength? 116
Muscles: How does the strength of muscles affect fatigue over
time? 120
10. Caves 127

Cave Formation: How does the acidity of a substance affect the


formation of a cave? 132
Cave Icicles: How does the mineral content of water affect the
formation of stalactites and stalagmites? 135
11. Cells 141

Investigating Cells: What are the differences between a


multicellular organism and a unicellular organism? 144
Plant Cells: What are the cell differences between monocot and
dicot plants? 145
Yeast Cells: How do they reproduce? 147
12. Chemical Energy 151

Rusting: Is the chemical reaction exothermic, endothermic, or


neither? 152
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Exothermic or Endothermic: Determining whether various


chemical reactions are exothermic or endothermic 156
13. Chemical Properties 163

Slime: What happens when white glue and borax mix? 167
Chemical Reactions: What happens when mineral oil, water, and
iodine mix? 170
Chemical Patination: Producing chemical reactions on
metal 173
14. Chemosenses 177

Supertasters: Is there a correlation between the number of taste


buds and taste perception? 180
Smell and Taste: How does smell affect the sense of taste? 186
15. Chlorophyll 191

Plant Pigments: Can pigments be separated? 193


Response to Light: Do plants grow differently in different colors
of light? 197
Budget Index lxxxv
Level of Difficulty Index xcvii
Timetable Index cix
General Subject Index cxxi
VOLUME 2: CO-E

Readers Guide xxi


Parents and Teachers Guide xxv
Experiments by Scientific Field xxvii
Words to Know xxxix
16. Color 203

Color and Flavor: How much does color affect flavor


perception? 207
Temperature and Color: What color has the highest
temperature? 210
17. Comets and Meteors 215

Comet Nucleus: Linking a Comets Composition to its


Properties. 218
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Meteor Impact: How do the characteristics of a meteorite and its


impact affect the shape of the crater? 221
18. Composting/Landfills 229

Living Landfill: What effect do the microorganisms in soil have


on the decomposition process? 232
Composting: Using organic material to grow plants 235
19. Crystals 243

Crystal Structure: Will varying shape crystals form from varying


substances? 246
Cool Crystals: How does the effect of cooling impact crystal
growth? 250
20. Density and Buoyancy 257

Density: Can a scale of relative density predict whether one


material floats on another? 260
Buoyancy: Does water pressure affect buoyancy? 264
21. Dissolved Oxygen 271

Decay and Dissolved Oxygen: How does the amount of decaying


matter affect the level of dissolved oxygen in water? 274
Goldfish Breath: How does a decrease in the dissolved oxygen
level affect the breathing rate of goldfish? 279
22. DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) 285

The Stuff of Life: Isolating DNA 289


Comparing DNA: Does the DNA from different species have
the same appearance? 291
23. Dyes 299

Applying Dyes: How does the fiber affect the dye color? 301
Holding the Dye: How do dye fixatives affect the colorfastness of
the dye? 304
24. Earthquakes 311

Detecting an Earthquake: How can movement of Earths crust


be measured? 314
Earthquake Simulation: Is the destruction greater at the
epicenter? 317
25. Eclipses 325

Simulating Solar and Lunar Eclipses 327


Phases of the Moon: What does each phase look like? 329
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26. Electricity 333

Electrolytes: Do some solutions conduct electricity better than


others? 335
Batteries: Can a series of homemade electric cells form a pile
strong enough to match the voltage of a D-cell battery? 340
Electroplating: Using electricity to move one metal onto another
metal 344
27. Electromagnetism 349

Magnetism: How can a magnetic field be created and detected? 351


Electromagnetism: How can an electromagnet be created? 354
28. Enzymes 359

Finding the Enzyme: Which enzyme breaks down hydrogen


peroxide? 362
Tough and Tender: Does papain speed up the aging process? 365
Stopping Enzymes: Does temperature affect enzyme action? 368
29. Erosion 375

Erosion: Does soil type affect the amount of water that runs off a
hillside? 377
Plants and Erosion: How do plants affect the rate of soil
erosion? 381
30. Ethnobotany 389

Plants and Health: Which plants have anti-bacterial


properties? 392
Coiling Reeds: How does the tightness of the coil affect the
ability to hold materials? 396
Budget Index lxxxv
Level of Difficulty Index xcvii
Timetable Index cix
General Subject Index cxxi
VOLUME 3: F-K

Readers Guide xxi


Parents and Teachers Guide xxv
Experiments by Scientific Field xxvii
Words to Know xxxix
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31. Fish 401

Fish Breathing: How do different fish take in oxygen? 404


Fish Movement: How do fins and body shape affect the movement of fish? 407
32. Flight 413

Lift-Off: How can a glider be made to fly higher? 415


Helicopters, Propellers, and Centripetal Force: Will it fly
high? 418
33. Flowers 423

Self versus Cross: Will there be a difference in reproduction


between self-pollinated and cross-pollinated plants of the same
type? 427
Sweet Sight: Can changing a flowers nectar and color affect the
pollinators lured to the flower? 431
34. Fluids 439

Viscosity: How can temperature affect the viscosity of


liquids? 441
Spinning Fluids: How do different fluids behave when immersed
in a spinning rod? 444
35. Food Preservation 451

Sweet Preservatives: How does sugar affect the preservation of


fruit? 454
Drying Foods: Does drying fruits help prevent or delay
spoilage? 458
36. Food Science 463

Jelly and Pectin: How does acidity affect how fruit gels? 467
Rising Foods: How much carbon dioxide do different leavening
agents produce? 470
37. Food Spoilage 477

Preservatives: How do different substances affect the growth of


mold? 481
Spoiled Milk: How do different temperatures of liquid affect its
rate of spoilage? 485
38. Forces 491

Newtons Laws in Action: How do water bottle rockets


demonstrate Newtons laws of motion? 493
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Centripetal Action: What is the relationship between distance


and force in circular motion? 501
39. Forensic Science 507

Fiber Evidence: How can scientific techniques be used to


identify fiber? 511
Blood Patterns: How can a blood spatter help recreate the
crime? 515
40. Fossils 521

Making an Impression: In which soil environment does a fossil


most easily form? 526
Fossil Formation: What are the physical characteristics of an
organism that make the best fossils? 530
41. Fungi 537

Decomposers: Food source for a common fungi 541


Living Conditions: What is the ideal temperature for yeast
growth? 544
42. Genetics 553

Genetic Traits: Will you share certain genetic traits more with
family members than non-family members? 556
Building a Pedigree for Taste 559
43. Germination 565

Effects of Temperature on Germination: What temperatures


encourage and discourage germination? 566
Comparing Germination Times: How fast can seeds grow? 570
Seed Scarification: Does breaking the seed shell affect
germination time? 573
44. Gravity 579

Gravity: How fast do different objects fall? 581


Measuring Mass: How can a balance be made? 585
45. Greenhouse Effect 589

Creating a Greenhouse: How much will the temperature rise


inside a greenhouse? 592
Fossil Fuels: What happens when fossil fuels burn? 596
46. Groundwater Aquifers 601

Aquifers: How do they become polluted? 605


Groundwater: How can it be cleaned? 609
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

47. Heat 615

Conduction: Which solid materials are the best conductors


of heat? 618
Convection: How does heat move through liquids? 622
Heat Capacity: Which liquids have the highest heat
capacity? 625
48. Insects 631

Ant Food: What type of foods is one type of ant attracted to? 635
Lightning Bugs: How does the environment affect a fireflys
flash? 638
Budget Index lxxxv
Level of Difficulty Index xcvii
Timetable Index cix
General Subject Index cxxi
VOLUME 4: L-PH

Readers Guide xxi


Parents and Teachers Guide xxv
Experiments by Scientific Field xxvii
Words to Know xxxix
49. Life Cycles 645

Tadpoles: Does temperature affect the rate at which tadpoles


change into frogs? 647
Insects: How does food supply affect the growth rate of
grasshoppers or crickets? 651
50. Light Properties 659

Looking for the Glow: Which objects glow under black light? 661
Refraction and Defraction: Making a rainbow 664
Refraction: How does the material affect how light travels? 666
51. Magnetism 671

Magnets: How do heat, cold, jarring, and rubbing affect the


magnetism of a nail? 674
Electromagnets: Does the strength of an electromagnet increase
with greater current? 678
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

52. Materials Science 685

Testing Tape: Finding the properties that allow tape to support


weight. 688
Developing Renewables: Can a renewable packing material have
the same qualities as a non-renewable material? 691
53. Memory 697

Memory Mnemonics: What techniques help in memory


retention? 701
False Memories: How can memories be influenced? 705
54. Microorganisms 711

Microorganisms: What is the best way to grow penicillin? 713


Growing Microorganisms in a Petri Dish 716
55. Mixtures and Solutions 723

Suspensions and Solutions: Can filtration and evaporation


determine whether mixtures are suspensions or solutions? 725
Colloids: Can colloids be distinguished from suspension using
the Tyndall effect? 730
56. Mountains 735

Mountain Plates: How does the movement of Earths plates


determine the formation of a mountain? 738
Mountain Formations: How does the height of the mountain
have an affect on desert formation? 741
57. Nanotechnology 747

Nanosize: How can the physical size affect a materials


properties? 750
Nanosize Substances: How can the physical size affect the rate of
reaction? 753
58. Nutrition 759

Energizing Foods: Which foods contain carbohydrates and


fats? 761
Nutrition: Which foods contain proteins and salts? 764
Daily Nutrition: How nutritious is my diet? 766
59. Oceans 771

Stratification: How does the salinity in ocean water cause it to


form layers? 775
Currents: Water behavior in density-driven currents 780
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

60. Optics and Optical Illusions 787

Optics: What is the focal length of a lens? 788


Optical Illusions: Can the eye be fooled? 791
61. Osmosis and Diffusion 797

Measuring Membranes: Is a plastic bag a semipermeable


membrane? 798
Changing Concentrations: Will a bag of salt water draw in fresh
water? 803
Changing Sizes: What effect does molecule size have on
osmosis 806
62. Oxidation-Reduction 811

Reduction: How will acid affect dirty pennies? 813


Oxidation and Rust: How is rust produced? 817
Oxidation Reaction: Can acid change the color of copper? 820
63. Periodic Table 827

Metals versus Nonmetals: Which areas of the periodic table have


elements that conduct electricity? 830
Soluble Families: How does the solubility of an element relate to
where it is located on the periodic table? 835
Active Metals: What metals give off electrons more readily than
others? 838
64. Pesticides 843

Natural versus Synthetic: How do different types of pesticides


compare against a pest? 848
Moving through Water: How can pesticides affect nontarget
plant life? 852
65. pH 859

Kitchen Chemistry: What is the pH of household chemicals? 861


Chemical Titration: What is required to change a substance from
an acid or a base into a neutral solution? 865
66. Photosynthesis 871

Photosynthesis: How does light affect plant growth? 873


Light Intensity: How does the intensity of light affect plant
growth? 877
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Budget Index lxxxv


Level of Difficulty Index xcvii
Timetable Index cix
General Subject Index cxxi
VOLUME 5: PL-SO

Readers Guide xxi


Parents and Teachers Guide xxv
Experiments by Scientific Field xxvii
Words to Know xxxix
67. Plant Anatomy 883

Plant Hormones: What is the affect of hormones on root and


stem growth? 886
Water Uptake: How do different plants differ in their water
needs? 890
68. Plants and Water 897

Water Flow: How do varying solutions of water affect the


amount of water a plant takes in and its turgor pressure? 900
Transpiration: How do different environmental conditions
affect plants rates of transpiration? 904
69. Polymers 911

Polymer Strength: What are the tensile properties of certain


polymers that make them more durable than others? 914
Polymer Slime: How will adding more of a polymer change the
properties of a polymer slime? 919
Polymer Properties: How are the properties of hard plastics
different? 923
70. Potential and Kinetic Energy 929

Measuring Energy: How does the height of an object affect its


potential energy? 931
Using Energy: Build a roller coaster 934
71. Renewable Energy 941

Capturing Wind Energy: How does the material affect the


amount of wind energy harnessed? 944
Hydropower: How does water pressure affect water energy? 948
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

72. Rivers 955

Weathering Erosion in Glaciers: How does a river make a


trench? 957
Stream Flow: Does the stream meander? 960
River Flow: How does the steepness and rate of water flow affect
river erosion? 962
73. Rocks and Minerals 969

Mineral Testing: What kind of mineral is it? 971


Rock Classification: Is it igneous, sedimentary, or
metamorphic? 975
74. Rotation and Orbits 981

Foucault Pendulum: How can a pendulum demonstrate the


rotation of Earth? 985
Spinning Effects: How does the speed of a rotating object affect
the way centrifugal force can overcome gravity? 989
75. Salinity 995

Making a Hydrometer: How can salinity be measured? 997


Density Ball: How to make a standard for measuring density 1000
76. Scientific Method 1005

Using the Scientific Method: What are the mystery powders? 1009
Using the Scientific Method: Do fruit flies appear out of thin
air? 1013
77. Seashells 1019

Shell Strength: Which shell is stronger: a clam shell or lobster


shell? 1022
Classifying Seashells 1025
78. Separation and Identification 1031

Chromatography: Can you identify a pen from the way its colors
separate? 1034
Identifying a Mixture: How can determining basic properties of a
substance allow you to identify the substances in a mixture? 1039
79. Simple Machines 1047

Wheel and Axle: How can changing the size of the wheel affect
the amount of work it takes to lift a load? 1051
Lever Lifting: How does the distance from the fulcrum affect
work? 1055
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The Screw: How does the distance between the threads of a screw
affect the work? 1057
80. Soil 1063

Soil Profile: What are the different properties of the soil


horizons? 1067
Soil pH: Does the pH of soil affect plant growth? 1074
81. Solar Energy 1081

Capturing Solar Energy: Will seedlings grow bigger in a


greenhouse? 1084
Solar Cells: Will sunlight make a motor run? 1087
Retaining the Suns heat: What substance best stores heat for a
solar system? 1090
82. Sound 1095

Wave Length: How does the length of a vibrating string affect the
sound it produces? 1096
Pitch: How does the thickness of a vibrating string affect
sound? 1099
Soundproofing: How do different materials affect
sound? 1102
Budget Index lxxxv
Level of Difficulty Index xcvii
Timetable Index cix
General Subject Index cxxi
VOLUME 6: SP-Z

Readers Guide xxi


Parents and Teachers Guide xxv
Experiments by Scientific Field xxvii
Words to Know xxxix
83. Space Observation 1109

Telescopes: How do different combinations of lenses affect the


image? 1113
Doppler Effect: How can waves measure the distance and speed
of objects? 1118
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

84. Stars 1123

Tracking Stars: Where is Polaris? 1125


Tracking the Motion of the Planets: Can a planet be followed? 1128
85. Static Electricity 1133

Building an Electroscope: Which objects are electrically


charged? 1135
Measuring a Charge: Does nylon or wool create a stronger static
electric charge? 1139
86. Storms 1147

Lightning Sparks: Explore how separating charges causes an


attraction between objects 1152
Tornadoes: Making a violent vortex 1155
Forming Hailstones: How do temperature differences affect the
formation of hail? 1158
87. Structures and Shapes 1165

Arches and Beams: Which is strongest? 1167


Beams and Rigidity: How does the vertical height of a beam
affect its rigidity? 1170
88. Time 1175

Pendulums: How do the length, weight, and swing angle of a


pendulum affect its oscillation time? 1180
Water Clock: Does the amount of water in a water clock affect its
accuracy? 1185
89. Tropisms 1191

Phototropism: Will plants follow a maze to reach light 1193


Geotropism: Will plant roots turn toward the pull of gravity? 1197
Heliotropism: How does the Sun affect the movement of certain
plants? 1201
90. Vegetative Propagation 1207

Auxins: How do auxins affect plant growth? 1209


Potatoes from Pieces: How do potatoes reproduce
vegetatively? 1216
91. Vitamins and Minerals 1223

Vitamin C: What juices are the best sources of vitamin C? 1226


Hard Water: Do different water sources have varying mineral
content? 1231
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92. Volcanoes 1237

Model of a Volcano: Will it blow its top? 1240


Looking at a Seismograph: Can a volcanic eruption be
detected? 1242
93. Water Cycle 1247

Temperature: How does temperature affect the rate of


evaporation? 1248
Surface Area: How does surface area affect the rate of
evaporation? 1253
94. Water Properties 1259

Cohesion: Can the cohesive force of surface tension in water


support an object denser than water? 1261
Adhesion: How much weight is required to break the adhesive
force between an object and water? 1264
95. Weather 1271

Wind: Measuring wind speed with a homemade


anemometer 1273
Clouds: Will a drop in air temperature cause a cloud to
form? 1277
96. Weather Forecasting 1283

Dewpoint: When will dew form? 1286


Air Pressure: How can air pressure be measured? 1289
97. Wood 1295

Water Absorption: How do different woods absorb


water? 1298
Wood Hardness: How does the hardness of wood relate to its
building properties? 1302
Budget Index lxxxv
Level of Difficulty Index xcvii
Timetable Index cix
General Subject Index cxxi

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

xix

Readers Guide

Experiment Central: Understanding Scientific Principles Through Projects


provides in one resource a wide variety of science experiments covering
nine key science curriculum fieldsastronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, ecology, food science, geology, meteorology, and physicsspanning
the earth sciences, life sciences, and physical sciences.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition combines, expands, and updates the
original four-volume and two-volume UXL sets. This new edition includes
20 new chapters, 60 new experiments, and more than 35 enhanced experiments. Each chapter explores a scientific subject and offers experiments
or projects that utilize or reinforce the topic studied. Chapters are alphabetically arranged according to scientific concept, including: Air and
Water Pollution, Color, Eclipses, Forensic Science, Genetics, Magnetism,
Mountains, Periodic Table, Renewable Energy, Storms and Water Cycle.
Two to three experiments or projects are included in each chapter.

Entry format
Chapters are presented in a standard, easy-to-follow format. All chapters
open with an explanatory overview section designed to introduce students
to the scientific concept and provide the background behind a concept s
discovery or important figures who helped advance the study of the field.
Each experiment is divided into eight standard sections to help
students follow the experimental process clearly from beginning to end.
Sections are:
 Purpose/Hypothesis


Level of Difficulty
xxi

READERS GUIDE

Materials Needed

Approximate Budget

Timetable

Step-by-Step Instructions

Summary of Results

Change the Variables

Chapters also include a Design Your Own Experiment section that


allows students to apply what they have learned about a particular concept and to create their own experiments. This section is divided into:


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept

Steps in the Scientific Method

Recording Data and Summarizing the Results

Related Projects

Special Features
A Words to Know sidebar provides definitions of terms used in each
chapter. A cumulative glossary collected from all the Words to Know
sections is included in the beginning of each volume.
The Experiments by Scientific Field section categorizes experiments by scientific curriculum area. This section cumulates all experiments across the six-volume series.
The Parents and Teachers Guide recommends that a responsible
adult always oversee a students experiment and provides several safety
guidelines for all students to follow.
Standard sidebars accompany experiments and projects.


What Are the Variables? explains the factors that may have an
impact on the outcome of a particular experiment.

How to Experiment Safely clearly explains any risks involved


with the experiment and how to avoid them.

Troubleshooters Guide presents problems that a student might


encounter with an experiment, possible causes of the problem, and
ways to remedy the problem.

Over 450 photos enhance the text; approximately 450 custom illustrations show the steps in the experiments.
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Experiment Central, 2nd edition

READERS GUIDE

Four indexes cumulate information from all the experiments in this


six-volume set, including:
 Budget Index categorizes the experiments by approximate cost.


Level of Difficulty Index lists experiments according to easy,


moderate, or difficult, or a combination thereof.

Timetable Index categorizes each experiment by the amount of


time needed to complete it, including setup and follow-through
time.

General Subject Index provides access to all major terms, people,


places, and topics covered in the set.

Acknowledgments
The author wishes to acknowledge and thank Laurie Curtis, teacher/
researcher; Cindy ONeill, science educator; and Joyce Nelson, chemist,
for their contributions to this edition as consultants.

Comments and Suggestions


We welcome your comments on Experiment Central. Please write:
Editors, Experiment Central, U*X*L, 27500 Drake Rd. Farmington
Hills, MI 48331-3535; call toll-free: 1-800-347-4253; or visit us at
www.gale.cengage.com.

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

xxiii

Pa ren ts a nd T ea c her s Gu i de

The experiments and projects in Experiment Central have been carefully


constructed with issues of safety in mind, but your guidance and supervision are still required. Following the safety guidelines that accompany
each experiment and project (found in the How to Experiment Safely
sidebar box), as well as putting to work the safe practices listed below, will
help your child or student avoid accidents. Oversee your child or student
during experiments, and make sure he or she follows these safety
guidelines:


Always wear safety goggle is there is any possiblity of sharp objects,


small particles, splashes of liquid, or gas fumes getting in someones
eyes.

Always wear protective gloves when handling materials that could


irritate the skin.

Never leave an open flame, such as a lit candle, unattended. Never


wear loose clothing around an open flame.

Follow instructions carefully when using electrical equipment,


including batteries, to avoid getting shocked.

Be cautious when handling sharp objects or glass equipment that


might break. Point scissors away from you and use them carefully.

Always ask for help in cleaning up spills, broken glass, or other


hazardous materials.

Always use protective gloves when handling hot objects. Set


them down only on a protected surface that will not be damaged
by heat.
xxv

PARENTS AND TEACHERS GUIDE

xxvi

Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling material that


might contain harmful microorganisms, such as soil and pond
water.

Do not substitute materials in an experiment without asking a


knowledgeable adult about possible reactions.

Do not use or mix unidentified liquids or powders. The result


might be an explosion or poisonous fumes.

Never taste or eat any substances being used in an experiment.

Always wear old clothing or a protective apron to avoid staining


your clothes.

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Experiments by Scientific Field

Chapter name in brackets, followed by experiment name. The numeral


before the colon indicates volume; numbers after the colon indicate page
number.
ALL SUBJECTS

[Scientific Method] Using the Scientific Method: Do fruit flies


appear out of thin air? 5:1013
[Scientific Method] Using the Scientific Method: What are the
mystery powders? 5:1009
ASTRONOMY

[Comets and Meteors] Comet Nucleus: Linking a Comets


Composition to its Properties. 2:218
[Comets and Meteors] Meteor Impact: How do the characteristics of a meteorite and its impact affect the shape of the
crater? 2:221
[Eclipses] Phases of the Moon: What does each phase look
like? 2:329
[Eclipses] Simulating Solar and Lunar Eclipses 2:327
[Rotation and Orbits] Foucault Pendulum: How can a pendulum demonstrate the rotation of Earth? 5:985
[Rotation and Orbits] Spinning Effects: How does the speed of a
rotating object affect the way centrifugal force can overcome
gravity? 5:989
[Space Observation] Doppler Effect: How can waves measure
the distance and speed of objects? 6:1118
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EXPERIMENTS BY SCIENTIFIC FIELD

[Space Observation] Telescopes: How do different combinations


of lenses affect the image? 6:1113
[Stars] Tracking Stars: Where is Polaris? 6:1125
[Stars] Tracking the Motion of the Planets: Can a planet be
followed? 6:1128
BIOLOGY

[Animal Defenses] Camouflage: Does an animals living environment relate to the color of the animal life? 1:63
[Animal Defenses] Ladybug Threats: How do ladybugs defend
themselves when they feel threatened? 1:65
[Bacteria] Bacterial Growth: How do certain substances inhibit
or promote bacterial growth? 1:90
[Bacteria] Bacterial Resistance: Can bacteria gain resistance to a
substance after exposure? 1:95
[Bones and Muscles] Bone Loss: How does the loss of calcium
affect bone strength? 1:116
[Bones and Muscles] Muscles: How does the strength of muscles
affect fatigue over time? 1:120
[Cells] Investigating Cells: What are the differences between a
multicellular organism and a unicellular organism? 1:141
[Cells] Plant Cells: What are the cell differences between
monocot and dicot plants? 1:145
[Cells] Yeast Cells: How do they reproduce? 1:147
[Chemosenses] Smell and Taste: How does smell affect the sense
of taste? 1:186
[Chemosenses] Supertasters: Is there a correlation between the
number of taste buds and taste perception? 1:180
[DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid)] Comparing DNA: Does the
DNA from different species have the same appearance? 2:291
[DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid)] The Stuff of Life: Isolating
DNA 2:289
[Enzymes] Finding the Enzyme: Which enzyme breaks down
hydrogen peroxide? 2:362
[Enzymes] Stopping Enzymes: Does temperature affect enzyme
action? 2:368
[Enzymes] Tough and Tender: Does papain speed up the aging
process? 2:365
[Fish] Fish Breathing: How do different fish take in oxygen? 3:404
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Experiment Central, 2nd edition

EXPERIMENTS BY SCIENTIFIC FIELD

[Fish] Fish Movement: How do fins and body shape affect the
movement of fish? 3:407
[Forensic Science] Blood Patterns: How can a blood spatter help
recreate the crime? 3:515
[Forensic Science] Fiber Evidence: How can scientific techniques be used to identify fiber? 3:511
[Fungi] Decomposers: Food source for a common fungi 3:541
[Fungi] Living Conditions: What is the ideal temperature for
yeast growth? 3:544
[Genetics] Building a Pedigree for Taste 3:559
[Genetics] Genetic Traits: Will you share certain genetic traits
more with family members than non-family members? 3:556
[Insects] Ant Food: What type of foods is one type of ant
attracted to? 3:635
[Insects] Lightning Bugs: How does the environment affect a
fireflys flash? 3:638
[Life Cycles] Insects: How does food supply affect the growth
rate of grasshoppers or crickets? 4:651
[Life Cycles] Tadpoles: Does temperature affect the rate at which
tadpoles change into frogs? 4:647
[Memory] False Memories: How can memories be
influenced? 4:705
[Memory] Memory Mnemonics: What techniques help in
memory retention? 4:701
[Microorganisms] Growing Microorganisms in a Petri Dish 4:716
[Microorganisms] Microorganisms: What is the best way to
grow penicillin? 4:713
[Nutrition] Daily Nutrition: How nutritious is my diet? 4:766
[Nutrition] Energizing Foods: Which foods contain carbohydrates and fats? 4:761
[Nutrition] Nutrition: Which foods contain proteins and
salts? 4:764
[Osmosis and Diffusion] Changing Concentrations: Will a bag
of salt water draw in fresh water? 4:803
[Osmosis and Diffusion] Changing Sizes: What effect does
molecule size have on osmosis 4:806
[Osmosis and Diffusion] Measuring Membranes: Is a plastic bag
a semipermeable membrane? 4:798
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

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EXPERIMENTS BY SCIENTIFIC FIELD

[Seashells] Classifying Seashells 5:1025


[Seashells] Shell Strength: Which shell is stronger: a clam shell or
lobster shell? 5:1022
BOTANY

[Annual Growth] Lichen Growth: What can be learned from the


environment by observing lichens? 1:79
[Annual Growth] Tree Growth: What can be learned from the
growth patterns of trees? 1:74
[Chlorophyll] Plant Pigments: Can pigments be separated? 1:193
[Chlorophyll] Response to Light: Do plants grow differently in
different colors of light? 1:197
[Ethnobotany] Coiling Reeds: How does the tightness of the coil
affect the ability to hold materials? 2:396
[Ethnobotany] Plants and Health: Which plants have antibacterial properties? 2:392
[Flowers] Self versus Cross: Will there be a difference in reproduction between self-pollinated and cross-pollinated plants of
the same type? 3:427
[Flowers] Sweet Sight: Can changing a flowers nectar and color
affect the pollinators lured to the flower? 3:431
[Germination] Comparing Germination Times: How fast can
seeds grow? 3:570
[Germination] Effects of Temperature on Germination: What
temperatures encourage and discourage germination? 3:566
[Germination] Seed Scarification: Does breaking the seed shell
affect germination time? 3:573
[Photosynthesis] Light Intensity: How does the intensity of light
affect plant growth? 4:877
[Photosynthesis] Photosynthesis: How does light affect plant
growth? 4:873
[Plant Anatomy] Plant Hormones: What is the affect of hormones on root and stem growth? 5:886
[Plant Anatomy] Water Uptake: How do different plants differ
in their water needs? 5:890
[Plants and Water] Transpiration: How do different environmental conditions affect plants rates of transpiration? 5:904
xxx

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

EXPERIMENTS BY SCIENTIFIC FIELD

[Plants and Water] Water Flow: How do varying solutions of


water affect the amount of water a plant takes in and its turgor
pressure? 5:900
[Tropisms] Geotropism: Will plant roots turn toward the pull of
gravity? 6:1197
[Tropisms] Heliotropism: How does the Sun affect the movement of certain plants? 6:1201
[Tropisms] Phototropism: Will plants follow a maze to reach
light? 6:1193
[Vegetative Propagation] Auxins: How do auxins affect plant
growth? 6:1209
[Vegetative Propagation] Potatoes from Pieces: How do potatoes
reproduce vegetatively? 6:1216
CHEMISTRY

[Adhesives] Adhesives in the Environment: Will different environmental conditions affect the properties of different
adhesives? 1:26
[Adhesives] Material Adhesion: How do various glues adhere to
different materials? 1:22
[Chemical Energy] Exothermic or Endothermic: Determining
whether various chemical reactions are exothermic or
endothermic 1:156
[Chemical Energy] Rusting: Is the chemical reaction exothermic,
endothermic, or neither? 1:152
[Chemical Properties] Chemical Patination: Producing chemical
reactions on metal 1:173
[Chemical Properties] Chemical Reactions: What happens when
mineral oil, water, and iodine mix? 1:170
[Chemical Properties] Slime: What happens when white glue
and borax mix? 1:167
[Crystals] Cool Crystals: How does the effect of cooling impact
crystal growth? 2:252
[Crystals] Crystal Structure: Will varying shape crystals form
from varying substances? 2:246
[Dyes] Applying Dyes: How does the fiber affect the dye
color? 2:301
[Dyes] Holding the Dye: How do dye fixatives affect the colorfastness of the dye? 2:304
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

xxxi

EXPERIMENTS BY SCIENTIFIC FIELD

[Materials Science] Developing Renewables: Can a renewable


packing material have the same qualities as a non-renewable
material? 4:691
[Materials Science] Testing Tape: Finding the properties that
allow tape to support weight. 4:688
[Mixtures and Solutions] Colloids: Can colloids be distinguished from suspension using the Tyndall effect? 4:730
[Mixtures and Solutions] Suspensions and Solutions: Can filtration and evaporation determine whether mixtures are suspensions or solutions? 4:725
[Oxidation-Reduction] Oxidation and Rust: How is rust
produced? 4:817
[Oxidation-Reduction] Oxidation Reaction: Can acid change
the color of copper? 4:820
[Oxidation-Reduction] Reduction: How will acid affect dirty
pennies? 4:813
[Periodic Table] Active Metals: What metals give off electrons
more readily than others? 4:838
[Periodic Table] Metals versus Nonmetals: Which areas of the
periodic table have elements that conduct electricity? 4:830
[Periodic Table] Soluble Families: How does the solubility of an
element relate to where it is located on the Periodic Table? 4:835
[pH] Chemical Titration: What is required to change a substance from an acid or a base into a neutral solution? 4:865
[pH] Kitchen Chemistry: What is the pH of household
chemicals? 4:861
[Polymers] Polymer Properties: How are the properties of hard
plastics different? 5:923
[Polymers] Polymer Slime: How will adding more of a polymer
change the properties of a polymer slime? 5:919
[Polymers] Polymer Strength: What are the tensile properties of
certain polymers that make them more durable than
others? 5:914
[Salinity] Density Ball: How to make a standard for measuring
density 5:1000
[Salinity] Making a Hydrometer: How can salinity be
measured? 5:997
[Separation and Identification] Chromatography: Can you
identify a pen from the way its colors separate? 5:1034
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Experiment Central, 2nd edition

EXPERIMENTS BY SCIENTIFIC FIELD

[Separation and Identification] Identifying a Mixture: How can


determining basic properties of a substance allow you to
identify the substances in a mixture? 5:1039
[Water Properties] Adhesion: How much weight is required to
break the adhesive force between an object and water? 6:1264
[Water Properties] Cohesion: Can the cohesive force of surface
tension in water support an object denser than water? 6:1261
ECOLOGY

[Acid Rain] Acid Rain and Animals: How does acid rain affect
brine shrimp? 1:5
[Acid Rain] Acid Rain and Plants: How does acid rain affect
plant growth? 1:9
[Acid Rain] Acid Rain: Can acid rain harm structures? 1:12
[Air and Water Pollution] Eutrophication: The effect of phosphates on water plants. 1:55
[Air and Water Pollution] Pollutant Bioindicators: Can lichens
provide clues to an areas air pollution? 1:51
[Biomes] Building a Desert Biome 1:108
[Biomes] Building a Temperate Forest Biome 1:107
[Composting/Landfills] Composting: Using organic material to
grow plants 2:237
[Composting/Landfills] Living Landfill: What effect do the
microorganisms in soil have on the decomposition
process? 2:232
[Dissolved Oxygen] Decay and Dissolved Oxygen: How does
the amount of decaying matter affect the level of dissolved
oxygen in water? 2:274
[Dissolved Oxygen] Goldfish Breath: How does a decrease in the
dissolved oxygen level affect the breathing rate of goldfish? 2:279
[Erosion] Erosion: Does soil type affect the amount of water that
runs off a hillside? 2:377
[Erosion] Plants and Erosion: How do plants affect the rate of
soil erosion? 2:381
[Greenhouse Effect] Creating a Greenhouse: How much will the
temperature rise inside a greenhouse? 3:592
[Greenhouse Effect] Fossil Fuels: What happens when fossil fuels
burn? 3:596
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

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EXPERIMENTS BY SCIENTIFIC FIELD

[Groundwater Aquifers] Aquifers: How do they become


polluted? 3:605
[Groundwater Aquifers] Groundwater: How can it be
cleaned? 3:609
[Pesticides] Moving through Water: How can pesticides affect
nontarget plant life? 4:852
[Pesticides] Natural versus Synthetic: How do different types of
pesticides compare against a pest? 4:848
[Renewable Energy] Capturing Wind Energy: How does
the material affect the amount of wind energy
harnessed? 5:944
[Renewable Energy] Hydropower: How does water pressure
affect water energy? 5:948
[Rivers] River Flow: How does the steepness and rate of water
flow affect river erosion? 5:962
[Rivers] Stream Flow: Does the stream meander? 5:960
[Rivers] Weathering Erosion in Glaciers: How does a river make
a trench? 5:957
[Soil] Soil pH: Does the pH of soil affect plant growth? 5:1074
[Soil] Soil Profile: What are the different properties of the soil
horizons? 5:1067
[Solar Energy] Capturing Solar Energy: Will seedlings grow
bigger in a greenhouse? 5:1084
[Solar Energy] Retaining the Suns heat: What substance best
stores heat for a solar system? 5:1090
[Solar Energy] Solar Cells: Will sunlight make a motor run? 5:1087
[Water Cycle] Surface Area: How does surface area affect the rate
of evaporation? 6:1253
[Water Cycle] Temperature: How does temperature affect the
rate of evaporation? 6:1248
FOOD SCIENCE

[Food Preservation] Drying Foods: Does drying fruits help


prevent or delay spoilage? 3:458
[Food Preservation] Sweet Preservatives: How does sugar affect
the preservation of fruit? 3:454
[Food Science] Jelly and Pectin: How does acidity affect how
fruit gels? 3:467
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Experiment Central, 2nd edition

EXPERIMENTS BY SCIENTIFIC FIELD

[Food Science] Rising Foods: How much carbon dioxide do


different leavening agents produce? 3:470
[Food Spoilage] Preservatives: How do different substances
affect the growth of mold? 3:481
[Food Spoilage] Spoiled Milk: How do different temperatures of
liquid affect its rate of spoilage? 3:485
[Vitamins and Minerals] Hard Water: Do different water sources have varying mineral content? 6:1231
[Vitamins and Minerals] Vitamin C: What juices are the best
sources of vitamin C? 6:1226
GEOLOGY

[Caves] Cave Formation: How does the acidity of a substance


affect the formation of a cave? 1:132
[Caves] Cave Icicles: How does the mineral content of water
affect the formation of stalactites and stalagmites? 1:135
[Earthquakes] Detecting an Earthquake: How can movement of
Earths crust be measured? 2:314
[Earthquakes] Earthquake Simulation: Is the destruction greater
at the epicenter? 2:317
[Fossils] Fossil Formation: What are the physical characteristics
of an organism that make the best fossils? 3:530
[Fossils] Making an Impression: In which soil environment does
a fossil most easily form? 3:526
[Mountains] Mountain Formations: How does the height of the
mountain have an affect on desert formation? 4:741
[Mountains] Mountain Plates: How does the movement
of Earths plates determine the formation of a mountain? 4:738
[Oceans] Currents: Water behavior in density-driven
currents 4:780
[Oceans] Stratification: How does the salinity in ocean water
cause it to form layers? 4:775
[Rocks and Minerals] Mineral Testing: What kind of mineral
is it? 5:971
[Rocks and Minerals] Rock Classification: Is it igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic? 5:975
[Volcanoes] Looking at a Seismograph: Can a volcanic eruption
be detected? 6:1242
[Volcanoes] Model of a Volcano: Will it blow its top? 6:1240
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

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EXPERIMENTS BY SCIENTIFIC FIELD

M E T EO RO LO G Y

[Air] Air Density: Does warm air take up less room than cool
air? 1:36
[Air] Convection Currents: How can rising air cause weather
changes? 1:39
[Storms] Forming Hailstones: How do temperature differences
affect the formation of hail? 6:1158
[Storms] Lightning Sparks: Explore how separating charges
causes an attraction between objects 6:1152
[Storms] Tornadoes: Making a violent vortex 6:1155
[Weather] Clouds: Will a drop in air temperature cause a cloud
to form? 6:1277
[Weather] Wind: Measuring wind speed with a homemade
anemometer 6:1273
[Weather Forecasting] Air Pressure: How can air pressure be
measured? 6:1289
[Weather Forecasting] Dewpoint: When will dew form? 6:1286
PHYSICS

[Color] Color and Flavor: How much does color affect flavor
perception? 2:207
[Color] Temperature and Color: What color has the highest
temperature? 2:210
[Density and Buoyancy] Buoyancy: Does water pressure affect
buoyancy? 2:264
[Density and Buoyancy] Density: Can a scale of relative density
predict whether one material floats on another? 2:260
[Electricity] Batteries: Can a series of homemade electric cells
form a pile strong enough to match the voltage of a D-cell
battery? 2:340
[Electricity] Electrolytes: Do some solutions conduct electricity
better than others? 2:335
[Electricity] Electroplating: Using electricity to move one metal
onto another metal 2:344
[Electromagnetism] Electromagnetism: How can an electromagnet be created? 2:354
[Electromagnetism] Magnetism:How can a magnetic field be
created and detected? 2:351
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Experiment Central, 2nd edition

EXPERIMENTS BY SCIENTIFIC FIELD

[Flight] Helicopters, Propellers, and Centripetal Force: Will it


fly high? 3:418
[Flight] Lift-Off: How can a glider be made to fly higher? 3:415
[Fluids] Spinning Fluids: How do different fluids behave when
immersed in a spinning rod? 3:444
[Fluids] Viscosity: How can temperature affect the viscosity of
liquids? 3:441
[Forces] Centripetal Action: What is the relationship between
distance and force in circular motion? 3:501
[Forces] Newtons Laws in Action: How do water bottle rockets
demonstrate Newtons laws of motion? 3:493
[Gravity] Gravity: How fast do different objects fall? 3:581
[Gravity] Measuring Mass: How can a balance be made? 3:585
[Heat] Conduction: Which solid materials are the best conductors of heat? 3:618
[Heat] Convection: How does heat move through liquids? 3:622
[Heat] Heat Capacity: Which liquids have the highest heat
capacity? 3:625
[Light Properties] Looking for the Glow: Which objects glow
under black light? 4:661
[Light Properties] Refraction and Defraction: Making a
rainbow 4:664
[Light Properties] Refraction: How does the material affect how
light travels? 4:666
[Magnetism] Electromagnets: Does the strength of an electromagnet increase with greater current? 4:678
[Magnetism] Magnets: How do heat, cold, jarring, and rubbing
affect the magnetism of a nail? 4:674
[Nanotechnology] Nanosize Substances: How can the physical
size affect the rate of reaction? 4:753
[Nanotechnology] Nanosize: How can the physical size affect a
materials properties? 4:750
[Optics and Optical Illusions] Optical Illusions: Can the eye be
fooled? 4:791
[Optics and Optical Illusions] Optics: What is the focal length of
a lens? 5:788
[Potential and Kinetic Energy] Measuring Energy: How does the
height of an object affect its potential energy? 5:931
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

xxxvii

EXPERIMENTS BY SCIENTIFIC FIELD

[Potential and Kinetic Energy] Using Energy: Build a roller


coaster 5:934
[Simple Machines] Lever Lifting: How does the distance from
the fulcrum affect work? 5:1055
[Simple Machines] The Screw: How does the distance between
the threads of a screw affect the work? 5:1057
[Simple Machines] Wheel and Axle: How can changing the size
of the wheel affect the amount of work it takes to lift a
load? 5:1051
[Sound] Pitch: How does the thickness of a vibrating string affect
sound? 5:1099
[Sound] Soundproofing: How do different materials affect
sound? 5:1102
[Sound] Wave Length: How does the length of a vibrating string
affect the sound it produces? 5:1096
[Static Electricity] Building an Electroscope: Which objects are
electrically charged? 6:1135
[Static Electricity] Measuring a Charge: Does nylon or wool
create a stronger static electric charge? 6:1139
[Structures and Shapes] Arches and Beams: Which is
strongest? 6:1167
[Structures and Shapes] Beams and Rigidity: How does the
vertical height of a beam affect its rigidity? 6:1170
[Time] Pendulums: How do the length, weight, and swing angle
of a pendulum affect its oscillation time? 6:1180
[Time] Water Clock: Does the amount of water in a water clock
affect its accuracy? 6:1185
[Wood] Water Absorption: How do different woods absorb
water? 6:1298
[Wood] Wood Hardness: How does the hardness of wood relate
to its building properties? 6:1302

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Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Words to Know

Abdomen: The third segment of an insect body.


Abscission: Barrier of special cells created at the base of leaves in

autumn.
Absolute dating: The age of an object correlated to a specific fixed time,

as established by some precise dating method.


Acceleration: The rate at which the velocity and/or direction of an object

is changing with respect to time.


Acid: Substance that when dissolved in water is capable of reacting with a

base to form salts and release hydrogen ions.


Acid rain: A form of precipitation that is significantly more acidic than

neutral water, often produced as the result of industrial processes and


pollution.
Acoustics: The science concerned with the production, properties, and

propagation of sound waves.


Acronym: A word or phrase formed from the first letter of other words.
Active solar energy system: A solar energy system that uses pumps or

fans to circulate heat captured from the Sun.


Additive: A chemical compound that is added to foods to give them

some desirable quality, such as preventing them from spoiling.


Adhesion: Attraction between two different substances.
Adhesive: A substance that bonds or adheres two substances together.
xxxix

WORDS TO KNOW

Aeration: Mixing a gas, like oxygen, with a liquid, like water.


Aerobic: A process that requires oxygen.
Aerodynamics: The study of the motion of gases (particularly air) and

the motion and control of objects in the air.


Agar: A nutrient rich, gelatinous substance that is used to grow bacteria.
Air: Gaseous mixture that covers Earth, composed mainly of nitrogen

(about 78%) and oxygen (about 21%) with lesser amounts of argon,
carbon dioxide, and other gases.
Air density: The ratio of the mass of a substance to the volume it

occupies.
Air mass: A large body of air that has similar characteristics.
Air pressure: The force exerted by the weight of the atmosphere above a

point on or above Earths surface.


Alga/Algae: Single-celled or multicellular plants or plant-like organisms

that contain chlorophyll, thus making their own food by photosynthesis. Algae grow mainly in water.
Alignment: Adjustment in a certain direction or orientation.
Alkali metals: The first group of elements in the periodic table, these

metals have a single electron in the outermost shell.


Alkaline: Having a pH of more than 7.
Alleles: One version of the same gene.
Alloy: A mixture of two or more metals with properties different from

those metals of which it is made.


Amine: An organic compound derived from ammonia.
Amino acid: One of a group of organic compounds that make up

proteins.
Amnesia: Partial or total memory loss.
Amperage: A measurement of current. The common unit of measure is

the ampere or amp.


Amphibians: Animals that live on land and breathe air but return to the

water to reproduce.
Amplitude: The maximum displacement (difference between an original

position and a later position) of the material that is vibrating. Amplitude


can be thought of visually as the highest and lowest point of a wave.
Anaerobic: A process that does not require oxygen.
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Experiment Central, 2nd edition

WORDS TO KNOW

Anal fin: Fin on the belly of a fish, used for balance.


Anatomy: The study of the structure of living things.
Anemometer: A device that measures wind speed.
Angiosperm: A flowering plant that has its seeds produced within an

ovary.
Animalcules: Life forms that Anton van Leeuwenhoek named when he

first saw them under his microscope; they later became known as
protozoa and bacteria.
Anther: The male reproductive organs of the plant, located on the tip of

a flowers stamen.
Anthocyanin: Red pigment found in leaves, petals, stems, and other

parts of a plant.
Antibiotic: A substance produced by or derived from certain fungi and

other organisms, that can destroy or inhibit the growth of other


microorganisms.
Antibiotic resistance: The ability of microorganisms to change so that

they are not killed by antibiotics.


Antibody: A protein produced by certain cells of the body as an immune

(disease-fighting) response to a specific foreign antigen.


Antigen: A substance that causes the production of an antibody when

injected directly into the body.


Antioxidants: Used as a food additive, these substances can prevent food

spoilage by reducing the foods exposure to air.


Aquifer: Underground layer of sand, gravel, or spongy rock that collects

water.
Arch: A curved structure that spans an opening and supports a weight

above the opening.


Artesian well: A well in which water is forced out under pressure.
Asexual reproduction: A reproductive process that does not involve the

union of two individuals in the exchange of genetic material.


Astronomers: Scientists who study the positions, motions, and compo-

sition of stars and other objects in the sky.


Astronomy: The study of the physical properties of objects and matter

outside Earths atmosphere.


Atmosphere: Layers of air that surround Earth.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

xli

WORDS TO KNOW

Atmospheric pressure: The pressure exerted by the atmosphere at

Earths surface due to the weight of the air.


Atom: The smallest unit of an element, made up of protons and neu-

trons in a central nucleus surrounded by moving electrons.


Atomic mass: Also known as atomic weight, the average mass of the

atoms in an element; the number that appears under the element


symbol in the periodic table.
Atomic number: The number of protons (or electrons) in an atom; the

number that appears over the element symbol in the periodic table.
Atomic symbol: The one- or two-letter abbreviation for a chemical

element.
Autotroph: An organism that can build all the food and produce all the

energy it needs with its own resources.


Auxins: A group of plant hormones responsible for patterns of plant

growth.
Axis: An imaginary straight line around which an object, like a planet,

spins or turns. Earths axis is a line that goes through the North and
South Poles.

Bacteria: Single-celled microorganisms that live in soil, water, plants,

and animals that play a key role in the decay of organic matter and the
cycling of nutrients. Some are agents of disease.
Bacteriology: The scientific study of bacteria, their characteristics, and

their activities as related to medicine, industry, and agriculture.


Barometer: An instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure, used

especially in weather forecasting.


Base: Substance that when dissolved in water is capable of reacting with

an acid to form salts and release hydrogen ions; has a pH of more


than 7.
Base pairs: In DNA, the pairing of two nucleotides with each other:

adenine (A) with thymine (T), and guanine (G) with cytosine (C).
Beam: A straight, horizontal structure that spans an opening and sup-

ports a weight above the opening.


xlii

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

WORDS TO KNOW

Bedrock: Solid layer of rock lying beneath the soil and other loose

material.
Beriberi: A disease caused by a deficiency of thiamine and characterized

by nerve and gastrointestinal disorders.


Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5): The amount of oxygen micro-

organisms use over a five-day period in 68 F (20 C) water to decay


organic matter.
Biodegradable: Capable of being decomposed by biological agents.
Biological variables: Living factors such as bacteria, fungi, and animals

that can affect the processes that occur in nature and in an


experiment.
Bioluminescence: The chemical phenomenon in which an organism can

produce its own light.


Biomass: Organic materials that are used to produce usable energy.
Biomes: Large geographical areas with specific climates and soils, as well

as distinct plant and animal communities that are interdependent.


Biomimetics: The development of materials that are found in nature.
Biopesticide: Pesticide produced from substances found in nature.
Bivalve: Bivalves are characterized by shells that are divided into two

parts or valves that completely enclose the mollusk like the clam or
scallop.
Blanching: A cooking technique in which the food, usually vegetables

and fruits, are briefly cooked in boiling water and then plunged into
cold water.
Blood pattern analysis: The study of the shape, location, and pattern of

blood in order to understand how it got there.


Blueshift: The shortening of the frequency of light waves toward the

blue end of the visible light spectrum as they travel towards an


observer; most commonly used to describe movement of stars
towards Earth.
Boiling point: The temperature at which a substance changes from a

liquid to a gas or vapor.


Bond: The force that holds two atoms together.
Bone joint: A place in the body where two or more bones are connected.
Bone marrow: The spongy center of many bones in which blood cells are

manufactured.
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Bone tissue: A group of similar cells in the bone with a common

function.
Bony fish: The largest group of fish, whose skeleton is made of bone.
Boreal: Northern.
Botany: The branch of biology involving the scientific study of plant life.
Braided rivers: Wide, shallow rivers with multiple channels and pebbly

islands in the middle.


Buoyancy: The tendency of a liquid to exert a lifting effect on a body

immersed in it.
By-product: A secondary substance produced as the result of a physical

or chemical process, in addition to the main product.

Calcium carbonate: A substance that is secreted by a mollusk to create

the shell it lives in.


Calibration: To standardize or adjust a measuring instrument so its

measurements are correct.


Cambium: The tissue below the bark that produces new cells, which

become wood and bark.


Camouflage: Markings or coloring that help hide an animal by making

it blend into the surrounding environment.


Cancellous bone: Also called spongy bone, the inner layer of a bone that

has cells with large spaces in between them filled with marrow.
Canning: A method of preserving food using airtight, vacuum-sealed

containers and heat processing.


Capillary action: The tendency of water to rise through a narrow tube by

the force of adhesion between the water and the walls of the tube.
Caramelization: The process of heating sugars to the point at which they

break down and lead to the formation of new compounds.


Carbohydrate: A compound consisting of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen

found in plants and used as a food by humans and other animals.


Carbonic acid: A weak acid that forms from the mixture of water and

carbon dioxide.
Carnivore: A meat-eating organism.
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Carotene: Yellow-orange pigment in plants.


Cartilage: The connective tissue that covers and protects the bones.
Cartilaginous fish: The second largest group of fish whose skeleton is

made of cartilage
Cast: In paleontology, the fossil formed when a mold is later filled in by

mud or mineral matter.


Catalase: An enzyme found in animal liver tissue that breaks down

hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water.


Catalyst: A compound that starts or speeds up the rate of a chemical

reaction without undergoing any change in its own composition.


Caudal fin: Tail fin of a fish used for fast swimming.
Cave: Also called cavern, a hollow or natural passage under or into the

ground large enough for a person to enter.


Celestial bodies: Describing planets or other objects in space.
Cell membrane: The layer that surrounds the cell, but is inside the cell

wall, allowing some molecules to enter and keeping others out of the
cell.
Cell theory: All living things have one or more similar cells that carry out

the same functions for the living process.


Cell wall: A tough outer covering over the cell membrane of bacteria and

plant cells.
Cells: The basic unit for living organisms; cells are structured to perform

highly specialized functions.


Centrifugal force: The apparent force pushing a rotating body away

from the center of rotation.


Centrifuge: A device that rapidly spins a solution so that the heavier

components will separate from the lighter ones.


Centripetal force: Rotating force that moves towards the center or axis.
Cerebral cortex: The outer layer of the brain.
Channel: A shallow trench carved into the ground by the pressure and

movement of a river.
Chemical change: The change of one or more substances into other

substances.
Chemical energy: Energy stored in chemical bonds.
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Chemical property: A characteristic of a substance that allows it to

undergo a chemical change. Chemical properties include flammability and sensitivity to light.
Chemical reaction: Any chemical change in which at least one new

substance is formed.
Chemosense: A sense stimulated by specific chemicals that cause the

sensory cell to transmit a signal to the brain.


Chitin: Substance that makes up the exoskeleton of crustaceans.
Chlorophyll: A green pigment found in plants that absorbs sunlight,

providing the energy used in photosynthesis, or the conversion of


carbon dioxide and water to complex carbohydrates.
Chloroplasts: Small structures in plant cells that contain chlorophyll and

in which the process of photosynthesis takes place.


Chromatography: A method for identifying the components of a sub-

stance based on their characteristic colors.


Chromosome: A structure of DNA found in the cell nucleus.
Cilia: Hairlike structures on olfactory receptor cells that sense odor

molecules.
Circuit: The complete path of an electric current including the source of

electric energy.
Circumference: The distance around a circle.
Clay: Type of soil comprising the smallest soil particles.
Cleavage: The tendency of a mineral to split along certain planes.
Climate: The average weather that a region experiences over a long

period.
Coagulation: The clumping together of particles in a mixture, often

because the repelling force separating them is disrupted.


Cohesion: Attraction between like substances.
Cold blooded: When an animals body temperature rises or falls to match

the environment.
Collagen: A protein in bone that gives the bone elasticity.
Colloid: A mixture containing particles suspended in, but not dissolved

in, a dispersing medium.


Colony: A mass of microorganisms that have been bred in a medium.
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Colorfast: The ability of a material to keep its dye and not fade or change

color.
Coma: Glowing cloud of gas surrounding the nucleus of a comet.
Combustion: Any chemical reaction in which heat, and usually light, is

produced. It is commonly the burning of organic substances during


which oxygen from the air is used to form carbon dioxide and water
vapor.
Comet: An icy body orbiting in the solar system, which partially vapor-

izes when it nears the Sun and develops a diffuse envelope of dust and
gas as well as one or more tails.
Comet head: The nucleus and the coma of a comet.
Comet nucleus: The core or center of a comet. (Plural: Comet nuclei.)
Comet tail: The most distinctive feature of comets; comets can display

two basic types of tails: one gaseous and the other largely composed
of dust.
Compact bone: The outer, hard layer of the bone.
Complete metamorphosis: Metamorphosis in which a larva becomes a

pupa before changing into an adult form.


Composting: The process in which organic compounds break down and

become dark, fertile soil called humus.


Compression: A type of force on an object where the object is pushed or

squeezed from each end.


Concave: Hollowed or rounded inward, like the inside of a bowl.
Concave lens: A lens that is thinner in the middle than at the edges.
Concentration: The amount of a substance present in a given volume,

such as the number of molecules in a liter.


Condensation: The process by which a gas changes into a liquid.
Conduction: The flow of heat through a solid.
Conductivity: The ability of a material to carry an electrical current.
Conductor: A substance able to carry an electrical current.
Cones: Cells in the retina that can perceive color.
Confined aquifer: An aquifer with a layer of impermeable rock above it

where the water is held under pressure.


Coniferous: Refers to trees, such as pines and firs, that bear cones and

have needle-like leaves that are not shed all at once.


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Conservation of energy: The law of physics that states that energy can be

transformed from one form to another, but can be neither created


nor destroyed.
Constellations: Patterns of stars in the night sky. There are eighty-eight

known constellations.
Continental drift: The theory that continents move apart slowly at a

predictable rate.
Contract: To shorten, pull together.
Control experiment: A set-up that is identical to the experiment but is

not affected by the variable that will be changed during the


experiment.
Convection: The circulatory motion that occurs in a gas or liquid at a

nonuniform temperature owing to the variation of its density and the


action of gravity.
Convection current: A circular movement of a fluid in response to

alternating heating and cooling.


Convex: Curved or rounded outward, like the outside of a ball.
Convex lens: A lens that is thicker in the middle than at the edges.
Coprolites: The fossilized droppings of animals.
Coriolis force: A force that makes a moving object appear to travel in a

curved path over the surface of a spinning body.


Corona: The outermost atmospheric layer of the Sun.
Corrosion: An oxidation-reduction reaction in which a metal is oxidized

(reacted with oxygen) and oxygen is reduced, usually in the presence


of moisture.
Cotyledon: Seed leaves, which contain the stored source of food for the

embryo.
Crater: An indentation caused by an object hitting the surface of a planet

or moon.
Crest: The highest point reached by a wave.
Cross-pollination: The process by which pollen from one plant polli-

nates another plant of the same species.


Crust: The hard outer shell of Earth that floats upon the softer, denser

mantle.
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Crustacean: A type of arthropod characterized by hard and thick skin,

and having shells that are jointed. This group includes the lobster,
crab, and crayfish.
Crystal: Naturally occurring solid composed of atoms or molecules

arranged in an orderly pattern that repeats at regular intervals.


Crystal faces: The flat, smooth surfaces of a crystal.
Crystal lattice: The regular and repeating pattern of the atoms in a

crystal.
Cultures: Microorganisms growing in prepared nutrients.
Cumulonimbus cloud: The parent cloud of a thunderstorm; a tall,

vertically developed cloud capable of producing heavy rain, high


winds, and lightning.
Current: The flow of electrical charge from one point to another.
Currents: The horizontal and vertical circulation of ocean waters.
Cyanobacteria: Oxygen-producing, aquatic bacteria capable of manu-

facturing its own food; resembles algae.


Cycles: Occurrence of events that take place on a regular, repeating

basis.
Cytology: The branch of biology concerned with the study of cells.
Cytoplasm: The semifluid substance inside a cell that surrounds the

nucleus and other membrane-enclosed organelles.

Decanting: The process of separating a suspension by waiting for its

heavier components to settle out and then pouring off the lighter
ones.
Decibel (dB): A unit of measurement for the amplitude of sound.
Deciduous: Plants that lose their leaves during some season of the year,

and then grow them back during another season.


Decompose: To break down into two or more simpler substances.
Decomposition: The breakdown of complex molecules of dead organ-

isms into simple nutrients that can be reutilized by living organisms.


Decomposition reaction: A chemical reaction in which one substance is

broken down into two or more substances.


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Deficiency disease: A disease marked by a lack of an essential nutrient in

the diet.
Degrade: Break down.
Dehydration: The removal of water from a material.
Denaturization: Altering an enzyme so it no longer works.
Density: The mass of a substance divided by its volume.
Density ball: A ball with the fixed standard of 1.0 gram per milliliter,

which is the exact density of pure water.


Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): Large, complex molecules found in the

nuclei of cells that carry genetic information for an organisms


development; double helix. (Pronounced DEE-ox-see-rye-bo-nooklay-ick acid)
Dependent variable: The variable in an experiment whose value depends

on the value of another variable in the experiment.


Deposition: Dropping of sediments that occurs when a river loses its

energy of motion.
Desert: A biome with a hot-to-cool climate and dry weather.
Desertification: Transformation of arid or semiarid productive land into

desert.
Dewpoint: The point at which water vapor begins to condense.
Dicot: Plants with a pair of embryonic seeds that appear at germination.
Diffraction: The bending of light or another form of electromagnetic

radiation as it passes through a tiny hole or around a sharp edge.


Diffraction grating: A device consisting of a surface into which are

etched very fine, closely spaced grooves that cause different wavelengths of light to reflect or refract (bend) by different amounts.
Diffusion: Random movement of molecules that leads to a net move-

ment of molecules from a region of high concentration to a region of


low concentration.
Disinfection: Using chemicals to kill harmful organisms.
Dissolved oxygen: Oxygen molecules that have dissolved in water.
Distillation: The process of separating liquids from solids or from other

liquids with different boiling points by a method of evaporation and


condensation, so that each component in a mixture can be collected
separately in its pure form.
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DNA fingerprinting: A technique that uses DNA fragments to identify

the unique DNA sequences of an individual.


DNA replication: The process by which one DNA strand unwinds and

duplicates all its information, creating two new DNA strands that are
identical to each other and to the original strand.
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid): Large, complex molecules found in nuclei

of cells that carry genetic information for an organisms development.


Domain: Small regions in iron that possess their own magnetic charges.
Dominant gene: A gene that passes on a certain characteristic, even when

there is only one copy (allele) of the gene.


Doppler effect: The change in wavelength and frequency (number of

vibrations per second) of either light or sound as the source is moving


either towards or away from the observer.
Dormant: A state of inactivity in an organism.
Dorsal fin: The fin located on the back of a fish, used for balance.
Double helix: The shape taken by DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) mole-

cules in a nucleus.
Drought: A prolonged period of dry weather that damages crops or

prevents their growth.


Dry cell: A source of electricity that uses a non-liquid electrolyte.
Dust tail: One of two types of tails a comet may have, it is composed

mainly of dust and it points away from the Sun.


Dye: A colored substance that is used to give color to a material.
Dynamic equilibrium: A situation in which substances are moving into

and out of cell walls at an equal rate.

Earthquake: An unpredictable event in which masses of rock suddenly

shift or rupture below Earths surface, releasing enormous amounts


of energy and sending out shockwaves that sometimes cause the
ground to shake dramatically.
Eclipse: A phenomenon in which the light from a celestial body is

temporarily cut off by the presence of another.


Ecologists: Scientists who study the interrelationship of organisms and

their environments.
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Ecosystem: An ecological community, including plants, animals and

microorganisms, considered together with their environment.


Efficiency: The amount of power output divided by the amount of

power input. It is a measure of how well a device converts one form


of power into another.
Effort: The force applied to move a load using a simple machine.
Elastomers: Any of various polymers having rubbery properties.
Electric charge repulsion: Repulsion of particles caused by a layer of

negative ions surrounding each particle. The repulsion prevents


coagulation and promotes the even dispersion of such particles
through a mixtures.
Electrical energy: Kinetic energy resulting from the motion of electrons

within any object that conducts electricity.


Electricity: A form of energy caused by the presence of electrical charges

in matter.
Electrode: A material that will conduct an electrical current, usually a

metal; used to carry electrons into or out of a battery.


Electrolyte: Any substance that, when dissolved in water, conducts an

electric current.
Electromagnetic spectrum: The complete array of electromagnetic radi-

ation, including radio waves (at the longest-wavelength end), microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X rays,
and gamma rays (at the shortest-wavelength end).
Electromagnetism: A form of magnetic energy produced by the flow of

an electric current through a metal core. Also, the study of electric


and magnetic fields and their interaction with charges and currents.
Electron: A subatomic particle with a single negative electrical change

that orbits the nucleus of an atom.


Electroplating: The process of coating one metal with another metal by

means of an electrical current.


Electroscope: A device that determines whether an object is electrically

charged.
Element: A pure substance composed of just one type of atom that

cannot be broken down into anything simpler by ordinary chemical


means.
Elevation: Height above sea level.
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Elliptical: An orbital path which is egg-shaped or resembles an elongated

circle.
Elongation: The percentage increase in length that occurs before a

material breaks under tension.


Embryo: The seed of a plant, which through germination can develop

into a new plant.


Embryonic: The earliest stages of development.
Endothermic reaction: A chemical reaction that absorbs heat or light

energy, such as photosynthesis, the production of food by plant cells.


Energy: The ability to cause an action or to perform work.
Entomology: The study of insects.
Environmental variables: Nonliving factors such as air temperature,

water, pollution, and pH that can affect processes that occur in


nature and in an experiment.
Enzyme: Any of numerous complex proteins produced by living cells

that act as catalysts, speeding up the rate of chemical reactions in


living organisms.
Enzymology: The science of studying enzymes.
Ephemerals: Plants that lie dormant in dry soil for years until major

rainstorms occur.
Epicenter: The location where the seismic waves of an earthquake first

appear on the surface, usually almost directly above the focus.


Equilibrium: A balancing or canceling out of opposing forces, so that an

object will remain at rest.


Erosion: The process by which topsoil is carried away by water, wind, or

ice action.
Ethnobotany: The study of how cultures use plants in everyday life.
Eukaryotic: Multicellular organism whose cells contain distinct nuclei,

which contain the genetic material. (Pronounced yoo-KAR-ee-ah-tic)


Euphotic zone: The upper part of the ocean where sunlight penetrates,

supporting plant life, such as phytoplankton.


Eutrophication: The process by which high nutrient concentrations in a

body of water eventually cause the natural wildlife to die.


Evaporation: The process by which liquid changes into a gas.
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Exoskeleton: A hard outer covering on animals, which provide protec-

tion and structure.


Exothermic reaction: A chemical reaction that releases heat or light

energy, such as the burning of fuel.


Experiment: A controlled observation.
Extremophiles: Bacteria that thrive in environments too harsh to sup-

port most life forms.

False memory: A memory of an event that never happened or an altered

memory from what happened.


Family: A group of elements in the same column of the periodic table or

in closely related columns of the table. A family of chemical compounds share similar structures and properties.
Fat: A type of lipid, or chemical compound used as a source of energy, to

provide insulation and to protect organs in an animal body.


Fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins such as A, D, E, and K that can be

dissolved in the fat of plants and animals.


Fault: A crack running through rock as the result of tectonic forces.
Fault blocks: Pieces of rock from Earths crust that press against each

other and cause earthquakes when they suddenly shift or rupture


from the pressure.
Fault mountain: A mountain that is formed when Earths plates come

together and cause rocks to break and move upwards.


Fermentation: A chemical reaction in which enzymes break down com-

plex organic compounds (for example, carbohydrates and sugars)


into simpler ones (for example, ethyl alcohol).
Filament: In a flower, stalk of the stamen that bears the anther.
Filtration: The mechanical separation of a liquid from the undissolved

particles floating in it.


Fireball: Meteors that create an intense, bright light and, sometimes, an

explosion.
First law of motion (Newtons): An object at rest or moving in a certain

direction and speed will remain at rest or moving in the same motion
and speed unless acted upon by a force.
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Fish: Animals that live in water who have gills, fins, and are cold

blooded.
Fixative: A substance that mixes with the dye to hold it to the material.
Flagella: Whiplike structures used by some organisms for movement.

(Singular: flagellum.)
Flammability: The ability of a material to ignite and burn.
Flower: The reproductive part of a flowering plant.
Fluid: A substance that flows; a liquid or gas.
Fluorescence: The emission of visible light from an object when the

object is bombarded with electromagnetic radiation, such as ultraviolet rays. The emission of visible light stops after the radiation
source has been removed.
Focal length: The distance from the lens to the point where the light rays

come together to a focus.


Focal point: The point at which rays of light converge or from which

they diverge.
Focus: The point within Earth where a sudden shift or rupture occurs.
Fold mountain: A mountain that is formed when Earths plates come

together and push rocks up into folds.


Food webs: Interconnected sets of food chains, which are a sequence of

organisms directly dependent on one another for food.


Force: A physical interaction (pushing or pulling) tending to change the

state of motion (velocity) of an object.


Forensic science: The application of science to the law and justice

system.
Fortified: The addition of nutrients, such as vitamins or minerals, to

food.
Fossil: The remains, trace, or impressions of a living organism that

inhabited Earth more than ten thousand years ago.


Fossil fuel: A fuel such as coal, oil, or natural gas that is formed over

millions of years from the remains of plants and animals.


Fossil record: The documentation of fossils placed in relationship to one

another; a key source to understand the evolution of life on Earth.


Fracture: A minerals tendency to break into curved, rough, or jagged

surfaces.
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Frequency: The rate at which vibrations take place (number of times per

second the motion is repeated), given in cycles per second or in hertz


(Hz). Also, the number of waves that pass a given point in a given
period of time.
Friction: A force that resists the motion of an object, resulting when two

objects rub against one another.


Front: The area between air masses of different temperatures or densities.
Fuel cell: A device that uses hydrogen as the fuel to produce electricity

and heat with water as a byproduct.


Fulcrum: The point at which a lever arm pivots.
Fungi: Kingdom of various single-celled or multicellular organisms,

including mushrooms, molds, yeasts, and mildews, that do not


contain chlorophyll.
Funnel cloud: A fully developed tornado vortex before it has touched the

ground.
Fusion: Combining of nuclei of two or more lighter elements into one

nucleus of a heavier element; the process stars use to produce energy


to produce light and support themselves against their own gravity.

Galaxy: A large collection of stars and clusters of stars containing any-

where from a few million to a few trillion stars.


Gastropod: The largest group of mollusks; characterized by a single shell

that is often coiled in a spiral. Snails are gastropods.


Gene: A segment of a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule contained

in the nucleus of a cell that acts as a kind of code for the production of
some specific protein. Genes carry instructions for the formation,
functioning, and transmission of specific traits from one generation
to another.
Generator: A device that converts mechanical energy into electrical

energy,
Genetic engineering: A technique that modifies the DNA of living cells

in order to make them change its characteristics. Also called genetic


modification.
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Genetic material: Material that transfers characteristics from a parent to

its offspring.
Geology: The study of the origin, history and structure of Earth.
Geothermal energy: Energy from deep within Earth.
Geotropism: The tendency of roots to bend toward Earth.
Germ theory of disease: The theory that disease is caused by micro-

organisms or germs, and not by spontaneous generation.


Germination: First stage in development of a plant seed.
Gibbous moon: A phase of the Moon when more than half of its surface

is lighted.
Gills: Special organ located behind the head of a fish that takes in oxygen

from the water.


Glacier: A large mass of ice formed from snow that has packed together

and which moves slowly down a slope under its own weight.
Global warming: Warming of Earths atmosphere as a result of an

increase in the concentration of gases that store heat, such as carbon


dioxide.
Glucose: A simple sugar broken down in cells to produce energy.
Gnomon: The perpendicular piece of the sundial that casts the shadow.
Golgi body: An organelles that sorts, modifies, and packages molecules.
Gravity: Force of attraction between objects, the strength of which

depends on the mass of each object and the distance between them.
Greenhouse effect: The warming of Earths atmosphere due to water

vapor, carbon dioxide, and other gases in the atmosphere that trap
heat radiated from Earths surface.
Greenhouse gases: Gases that absorb infrared radiation and warm the

air before the heat energy escapes into space.


Greenwich Mean Time (GMT): The time at an imaginary line that runs

north and south through Greenwich, England, used as the standard


for time throughout the world.
Groundwater: Water that soaks into the ground and is stored in the

small spaces between the rocks and soil.


Group: A vertical column of the periodic table that contains elements

possessing similar chemical characteristics.


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Hardwood: Wood from angiosperm, mostly deciduous, trees.


Heartwood: The inner layers of wood that provide structure and have no

living cells.
Heat: A form of energy produced by the motion of molecules that make

up a substance.
Heat capacity: The measure of how well a substance stores heat.
Heat energy: The energy produced when two substances that have

different temperatures are combined.


Heliotropism: The tendency of plants to turn towards the Sun through-

out the day.


Herbivore: A plant-eating organism.
Hertz (Hz): The unit of measurement of frequency; a measure of the

number of waves that pass a given point per second of time.


Heterogeneous: Different throughout.
Heterotrophs: Organisms that cannot make their own food and that

must, therefore, obtain their food from other organisms.


High air pressure: An area where the air is cooler and more dense, and

the air pressure is higher than normal.


Hippocampus: A part of the brain associated with learning and memory.
Homogenous: The same throughout.
Hormones: Chemicals produced in the cells of plants and animals that

control bodily functions.


Hue: The color or shade.
Humidity: The amount of water vapor (moisture) contained in the air.
Humus: Fragrant, spongy, nutrient-rich decayed plant or animal

matter.
Hydrologic cycle: Continual movement of water from the atmosphere

to Earths surface through precipitation and back to the atmosphere


through evaporation and transpiration.
Hydrologists: Scientists who study water and its cycle.
Hydrology: The study of water and its cycle.
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Hydrometer: An instrument that determines the specific gravity of a

liquid.
Hydrophilic: A substance that is attracted to and readily mixes with

water.
Hydrophobic: A substance that is repelled by and does not mix with

water.
Hydropower: Energy produced from capturing moving water.
Hydrotropism: The tendency of roots to grow toward a water source.
Hypertonic solution: A solution with a higher concentration of materials

than a cell immersed in the solution.


Hypha: Slender, cottony filaments making up the body of multicellular

fungi. (Plural: hyphae)


Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that can be tested by

observation and/or experiment.


Hypotonic solution: A solution with a lower concentration of materials

than a cell immersed in the solution.

Igneous rock: Rock formed from the cooling and hardening of magma.
Immiscible: Incapable of being mixed.
Imperfect flower: Flowers that have only the male reproductive organ

(stamen) or the female reproductive organs (pistil).


Impermeable: Not allowing substances to pass through.
Impurities: Chemicals or other pollutants in water.
Inclined plane: A simple machine with no moving parts; a slanted surface.
Incomplete metamorphosis: Metamorphosis in which a nymph form

gradually becomes an adult through molting.


Independent variable: The variable in an experiment that determines

the final result of the experiment.


Indicator: Pigments that change color when they come into contact with

acidic or basic solutions.


Inertia: The tendency of an object to continue in its state of motion.
Infrared radiation: Electromagnetic radiation of a wavelength shorter than

radio waves but longer than visible light that takes the form of heat.
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Inner core: Very dense, solid center of Earth.


Inorganic: Not containing carbon; not derived from a living organism.
Insect: A six-legged invertebrate whose body has three segments.
Insoluble: A substance that cannot be dissolved in some other substance.
Insulated wire: Electrical wire coated with a non-conducting material

such as plastic.
Insulation: A material that is a poor conductor of heat or electricity.
Insulator: A material through which little or no electrical current or heat

energy will flow.


Interference fringes: Bands of color that fan out around an object.
Internal skeleton: An animal that has a backbone.
Invertebrate: An animal that lacks a backbone or internal skeleton.
Ion: An atom or groups of atoms that carry an electrical chargeeither

positive or negativeas a result of losing or gaining one or more


electrons.
Ion tail: One of two types of tails a comet may have, it is composed

mainly of charged particles and it points away from the Sun.


Ionic conduction: The flow of an electrical current by the movement of

charged particles, or ions.


Isobars: Continuous lines that connect areas with the same air pressure.
Isotonic solutions: Two solutions that have the same concentration of

solute particles and therefore the same osmotic pressure.

Jawless fish: The smallest group of fishes, who lacks a jaw.

Kinetic energy: The energy of an object or system due to its motion.


Kingdom: One of the five classifications in the widely accepted classi-

fication system that designates all living organisms into animals,


plants, fungi, protists, and monerans.
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Labyrinth: A lung-like organ located above the gills that allows the fish to

breathe in oxygen from the air.


Lactobacilli: A strain of bacteria.
Landfill: A method of disposing of waste materials by placing them in a

depression in the ground or piling them in a mound. In a sanitary


landfill, the daily deposits of waste materials are covered with a layer
of soil.
Larva: Immature form (wormlike in insects; fishlike in amphibians) of

an organism capable of surviving on its own. A larva does not


resemble the parent and must go through metamorphosis, or change,
to reach its adult stage.
Lava: Molten rock that occurs at the surface of Earth, usually through

volcanic eruptions.
Lava cave: A cave formed from the flow of lava streaming over solid

matter.
Leach: The movement of dissolved minerals or chemicals with water as it

percolates, or oozes, downward through the soil.


Leaching: The movement of dissolved chemicals with water that is

percolating, or oozing, downward through the soil.


Leavening agent: A substance used to make foods like dough and batter

to rise.
Leeward: The side away from the wind or flow direction.
Lens: A piece of transparent material with two curved surfaces that bend

rays of light passing through it.


Lichen: An organism composed of a fungus and a photosynthetic organ-

ism in a symbiotic relationship.


Lift: Upward force on the wings of an aircraft created by differences in air

pressure on top of and underneath the wings.


Ligaments: Tough, fibrous tissue connecting bones.
Light: A form of energy that travels in waves.
Light-year: Distance light travels in one year in the vacuum of space,

roughly 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion kilometers).


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The Local Group: A cluster of thirty galaxies, including the Milky Way,

pulled together by gravity.


Long-term memory: The last category of memory in which memories

are stored away and can last for years.


Low air pressure: An area where the air is warmer and less dense, and the

air pressure is lower than normal.


Luminescent: Producing light through a chemical process.
Luminol: A compound used to detect blood.
Lunar eclipse: An eclipse that occurs when Earth passes between the Sun

and the Moon, casting a shadow on the Moon.


Luster: A glow of reflected light; a sheen.

Machine: Any device that makes work easier by providing a mechanical

advantage.
Macrominerals: Minerals needed in relatively large quantities.
Macroorganisms: Visible organisms that aid in breaking down organic

matter.
Magma: Molten rock deep within Earth that consists of liquids, gases,

and particles of rocks and crystals. Magma underlies areas of volcanic


activity and at Earths surface is called lava.
Magma chambers: Pools of bubbling liquid rock that are the source of

energy causing volcanoes to be active.


Magma surge: A swell or rising wave of magma caused by the movement

and friction of tectonic plates, which heats and melts rock, adding to
the magma and its force.
Magnet: A material that attracts other like materials, especially metals.
Magnetic circuit: A series of magnetic domains aligned in the same

direction.
Magnetic field: The space around an electric current or a magnet in

which a magnetic force can be observed.


Magnetism: A fundamental force in nature caused by the motion of

electrons in an atom.
Maillard reaction: A reaction caused by heat and sugars and resulting in

foods browning and flavors.


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Mammals: Animals that have a backbone, are warm blooded, have

mammary glands to feed their young and have or are born with hair.
Mantle: Thick dense layer of rock that underlies Earths crust and over-

lies the core; also soft tissue that is located between the shell and an
animals inner organs. The mantle produces the calcium carbonate
substance that create the shell of the animal.
Manure: The waste matter of animals.
Mass: Measure of the total amount of matter in an object. Also, an

objects quantity of matter as shown by its gravitational pull on


another object.
Matter: Anything that has mass and takes up space.
Meandering river: A lowland river that twists and turns along its route to

the sea.
Medium: A material that contains the nutrients required for a particular

microorganism to grow.
Melting point: The temperature at which a substance changes from a

solid to a liquid.
Memory: The process of retaining and recalling past events and

experiences.
Meniscus: The curved surface of a column of liquid.
Metabolism: The process by which living organisms convert food into

energy and waste products.


Metamorphic rock: Rock formed by transformation of pre-existing rock

through changes in temperature and pressure.


Metamorphosis: Transformation of an immature animal into an adult.
Meteor: An object from space that becomes glowing hot when it passes

into Earths atmosphere; also called shooting star.


Meteor shower: A group of meteors that occurs when Earths orbit

intersects the orbit of a meteor stream.


Meteorites: A meteor that is large enough to survive its passage through

the atmosphere and hit the ground.


Meteoroid: A piece of debris that is traveling in space.
Meteorologist: Scientist who studies the weather and the atmosphere.
Microbiology: Branch of biology dealing with microscopic forms of life.
Microclimate: A unique climate that exists only in a small, localized area.
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Microorganisms: Living organisms so small that they can be seen only

with the aid of a microscope.


Micropyle: Seed opening that enables water to enter easily.
Microvilli: The extension of each taste cell that pokes through the taste

pore and first senses the chemicals.


Milky Way: The galaxy in which our solar system is located.
Mimicry: A characteristic in which an animal is protected against pred-

ators by resembling another, more distasteful animal.


Mineral: An inorganic substance found in nature with a definite chem-

ical composition and structure. As a nutrient, it helps build bones


and soft tissues and regulates body functions.
Mixture: A combination of two or more substances that are not chemi-

cally combined with each other and that can exist in any proportion.
Mnemonics: Techniques to improve memory.
Mold: In paleontology, the fossil formed when acidic water dissolves a

shell or bone around which sand or mud has already hardened.


Molecule: The smallest particle of a substance that retains all the proper-

ties of the substance and is composed of one or more atoms.


Mollusk: An invertebrate animal usually enclosed in a shell, the largest

group of shelled animals.


Molting: A process by which an animal sheds its skin or shell.
Monocot: Plants with a single embryonic leaf at germination.
Monomer: A small molecule that can be combined with itself many

times over to make a large molecule, the polymer.


Moraine: Mass of boulders, stones, and other rock debris carried along

and deposited by a glacier.


Mordant: A substance that fixes the dye to the material.
Mountain: A landform that stands well above its surroundings; higher

than a hill.
Mucus: A thick, slippery substance that serves as a protective lubricant

coating in passages of the body that communicate with the air.


Multicellular: Living things with many cells joined together.
Muscle fibers: Stacks of long, thin cells that make up muscle; there are

three types of muscle fiber: skeletal, cardiac, and smooth.


Mycelium: In fungi, the mass of threadlike, branching hyphae.
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Nanobots: A nanoscale robot.


Nanometer: A unit of length; this measurement is equal to one-billionth

of a meter.
Nanotechnology: Technology that involves working and developing

technologies on the nanometer (atomic and molecular) scale.


Nansen bottles: Self-closing containers with thermometers that draw in

water at different depths.


Nebula: Bright or dark cloud, often composed of gases and dust, hover-

ing in the space between the stars.


Nectar: A sweet liquid, found inside a flower, that attracts pollinators.
Neutralization: A chemical reaction in which the mixing of an acidic

solution with a basic (alkaline) solution results in a solution that has


the properties of neither an acid nor a base.
Neutron: A subatomic particle with a mass of about one atomic mass

unit and no electrical charge that is found in the nucleus of an atom.


Newtonian fluid: A fluid that follows certain properties, such as the

viscosity remains constant at a given temperature.


Niche: The specific location and place in the food chain that an organ-

ism occupies in its environment.


Noble gases: Also known as inert or rare gases; the elements argon,

helium, krypton, neon, radon, and xenon, which are nonreactive


gases and form few compounds with other elements.
Non-Newtonian fluid: A fluid whose property do not follow Newtonian

properties, such as viscosity can vary based on the stress.


Nonpoint source: An unidentified source of pollution, which may

actually be a number of sources.


Nucleation: The process by which crystals start growing.
Nucleotide: The basic unit of a nucleic acid. It consists of a simple sugar,

a phosphate group, and a nitrogen-containing base. (Pronounced


noo-KLEE-uh-tide.)
Nucleus: The central part of the cell that contains the DNA; the central

core of an atom, consisting of protons and (usually) neutrons.


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Nutrient: A substance needed by an organism in order for it to survive,

grow, and develop.


Nutrition: The study of the food nutrients an organism needs in order to

maintain well-being.
Nymph: An immature form in the life cycle of insects that go through an

incomplete metamorphosis.

Objective lens: In a refracting telescope, the lens farthest away from the

eye that collects the light.


Oceanographer: A person who studies the chemistry of the oceans, as

well as their currents, marine life, and the ocean floor.


Oceanography: The study of the chemistry of the oceans, as well as their

currents, marine life, and the ocean bed.


Olfactory: Relating to the sense of smell.
Olfactory bulb: The part of the brain that processes olfactory (smell)

information.
Olfactory epithelium: The patch of mucous membrane at the top of the

nasal cavity that contains the olfactory (smell) nerve cells.


Olfactory receptor cells: Nerve cells in the olfactory epithelium that

detect odors and transmit the information to the brain.


Oort cloud: Region of space beyond our solar system that theoretically

contains about one trillion inactive comets.


Optics: The study of the nature of light and its properties.
Orbit: The path followed by a body (such as a planet) in its travel around

another body (such as the Sun).


Organelle: A membrane-enclosed structure that performs a specific

function within a cell.


Organic: Containing carbon; also referring to materials that are derived

from living organisms.


Oscillation: A repeated back-and-forth movement.
Osmosis: The movement of fluids and substances dissolved in liquids

across a semipermeable membrane from an area of its greater concentration to an area of its lesser concentration until all substances
involved reach a balance.
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Outer core: A liquid core that surrounds Earths solid inner core; made

mostly of iron.
Ovary: In a plant, the base part of the pistil that bears ovules and

develops into a fruit.


Ovule: Structure within the ovary that develops into a seed after

fertilization.
Oxidation: A chemical reaction in which oxygen reacts with some other

substance and in which ions, atoms, or molecules lose electrons.


Oxidation state: The sum of an atoms positive and negative charges.
Oxidation-reduction reaction: A chemical reaction in which one sub-

stance loses one or more electrons and the other substance gains one
or more electrons.
Oxidizing agent: A chemical substance that gives up oxygen or takes on

electrons from another substance.

Paleontologist: Scientist who studies the life of past geological periods as

known from fossil remains.


Papain: An enzyme obtained from the fruit of the papaya used as a meat

tenderizer, as a drug to clean cuts and wounds, and as a digestive aid


for stomach disorders.
Papillae: The raised bumps on the tongue that contain the taste buds.
Parent material: The underlying rock from which soil forms.
Partial solar/lunar eclipse: An eclipse in which our view of the Sun/

Moon is only partially blocked.


Particulate matter: Solid matter in the form of tiny particles in the

atmosphere. (Pronounced par-TIK-you-let.)


Passive solar energy system: A solar energy system in which the heat of

the Sun is captured, used, and stored by means of the design of a


building and the materials from which it is made.
Pasteurization: The process of slow heating that kills bacteria and other

microorganisms.
Peaks: The points at which the energy in a wave is maximum.
Pectin: A natural carbohydrate found in fruits and vegetables.
Pectoral fin: Pair of fins located on the side of a fish, used for steering.
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Pedigree: A diagram that illustrates the pattern of inheritance of a

genetic trait in a family.


Pelvic fin: Pair of fins located toward the belly of a fish, used for stability.
Pendulum: A free-swinging weight, usually consisting of a heavy object

attached to the end of a long rod or string, suspended from a fixed


point.
Penicillin: A mold from the fungi group of microorganisms; used as an

antibiotic.
Pepsin: Digestive enzyme that breaks down protein.
Percolate: To pass through a permeable substance.
Perfect flower: Flowers that have both male and female reproductive

organs.
Period: A horizontal row in the periodic table.
Periodic table: A chart organizing elements by atomic number and

chemical properties into groups and periods.


Permeable: Having pores that permit a liquid or a gas to pass through.
Permineralization: A form of preservation in which mineral matter has

filled in the inner and outer spaces of the cell.


Pest: Any living thing that is unwanted by humans or causes injury and

disease to crops and other growth.


Pesticide: Substance used to reduce the abundance of pests.
Petal: Leafy structure of a flower just inside the sepals; they are often

brightly colored and have many different shapes.


Petrifaction: Process of turning organic material into rock by the

replacement of that material with minerals.


pH: A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution referring to the

concentration of hydrogen ions present in a liter of a given fluid. The


pH scale ranges from 0 (greatest concentration of hydrogen ions and
therefore most acidic) to 14 (least concentration of hydrogen ions
and therefore most alkaline), with 7 representing a neutral solution,
such as pure water.
Pharmacology: The science dealing with the properties, reactions, and

therapeutic values of drugs.


Phases: Changes in the portion of the Moons surface that is illuminated

by light from the Sun as the Moon revolves around Earth.


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Phloem: The plant tissue that carries dissolved nutrients through the

plant.
Phosphorescence: The emission of visible light from an object when the

object is bombarded with electromagnetic radiation, such as ultraviolet rays. The object stores part of the radiation energy and the
emission of visible light continues for a period ranging from a
fraction of a second to several days after the radiation source has
been removed.
Photoelectric effect: The phenomenon in which light falling upon

certain metals stimulates the emission of electrons and changes


light into electricity.
Photosynthesis: Chemical process by which plants containing chloro-

phyll use sunlight to manufacture their own food by converting


carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates, releasing oxygen as a
by-product.
Phototropism: The tendency of a plant to grow toward a source of light.
Photovoltaic cells: A device made of silicon that converts sunlight into

electricity.
Physical change: A change in which the substance keeps its molecular

identity, such as a piece of chalk that has been ground up.


Physical property: A characteristic that you can detect with your senses,

such as color and shape.


Physiologist: A scientist who studies the functions and processes of

living organisms.
Phytoplankton: Microscopic aquatic plants that live suspended in the

water.
Pigment: A substance that displays a color because of the wavelengths of

light that it reflects.


Pili: Short projections that assist bacteria in attaching to tissues.
Pistil: Female reproductive organ of flowers that is composed of the

stigma, style, and ovary.


Pitch: A property of a sound, determined by its frequency; the highness

or lowness of a sound.
Plant extract: The juice or liquid essence obtained from a plant by

squeezing or mashing it.


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Plasmolysis: Occurs in walled cells in which cytoplasm, the semifluid

substance inside a cell, shrivels and the membrane pulls away from
the cell wall when the vacuole loses water.
Plates: Large regions of Earths surface, composed of the crust and

uppermost mantle, which move about, forming many of Earths


major geologic surface features.
Platform: The horizontal surface of a bridge on which traffic travels.
Pnematocysts: Stinging cells.
Point source: An identified source of pollution.
Pollen: Dust-like grains or particles produced by a plant that contain

male sex cells.


Pollinate: The transfer of pollen from the male reproductive organs to

the female reproductive organs of plants.


Pollination: Transfer of pollen from the male reproductive organs to the

female reproductive organs of plants.


Pollinator: Any animal, such as an insect or bird, that transfers the pollen

from one flower to another.


Pollution: The contamination of the natural environment, usually

through human activity.


Polymer: Chemical compound formed of simple molecules (known as

monomers) linked with themselves many times over.


Polymerization: The bonding of two or more monomers to form a

polymer.
Polyvinyl acetate: A type of polymer that is the main ingredient of white

glues.
Pore: An opening or space.
Potential energy: The energy of an object or system due to its position.
Precipitation: Any form of water that falls to Earth, such as rain, snow,

or sleet.
Predator: An animal that hunts another animal for food.
Preservative: An additive used to keep food from spoiling.
Primary colors: The three colors red, green, and blue; when combined

evenly they produce white light and by combining varying amounts


can produce the range of colors.
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Prism: A piece of transparent material with a triangular cross-section.

When light passes through it, it causes different colors to bend


different amounts, thus separating them into a rainbow of colors.
Probe: The terminal of a voltmeter, used to connect the voltmeter to a

circuit.
Producer: An organism that can manufacture its own food from nonliving

materials and an external energy source, usually by photosynthesis.


Product: A compound that is formed as a result of a chemical reaction.
Prokaryote: A cell without a true nucleus, such as a bacterium.
Prominences: Masses of glowing gas, mainly hydrogen, that rise from

the Suns surface like flames.


Propeller: Radiating blades mounted on a rapidly rotating shaft, which

moves aircraft forward.


Protein: A complex chemical compound consisting of many amino acids

attached to each other that are essential to the structure and functioning of all living cells.
Protists: Members of the kingdom Protista, primarily single-celled

organisms that are not plants or animals.


Proton: A subatomic particle with a single positive charge that is found

in the nucleus of an atom.


Protozoa: Single-celled animal-like microscopic organisms that live by

taking in food rather than making it by photosynthesis. They must


live in the presence of water.
Pulley: A simple machine made of a cord wrapped around a wheel.
Pupa: The insect stage of development between the larva and adult in

insects that go through complete metamorphosis.

Radiation: Energy transmitted in the form of electromagnetic waves or

subatomic particles.
Radicule: Seeds root system.
Radio wave: Longest form of electromagnetic radiation, measuring up

to 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) from peak to peak.


Radioisotope dating: A technique used to date fossils, based on the

decay rate of known radioactive elements.


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Radiosonde balloons: Instruments for collecting data in the atmosphere

and then transmitting that data back to Earth by means of radio


waves.
Radon: A radioactive gas located in the ground; invisible and odorless,

radon is a health hazard when it accumulates to high levels inside


homes and other structures where it is breathed.
Rain shadow: Region on the side of the mountain that receives less

rainfall than the area windward of the mountain.


Rancidity: Having the condition when food has a disagreeable odor or

taste from decomposing oils or fats.


Reactant: A compound present at the beginning of a chemical reaction.
Reaction: Response to an action prompted by stimulus.
Recessive gene: A gene that produces a certain characteristic only two

both copies (alleles) of the gene are present.


Recycling: The use of waste materials, also known as secondary materials

or recyclables, to produce new products.


Redshift: The lengthening of the frequency of light waves toward the red

end of the visible light spectrum as they travel away from an observer;
most commonly used to describe movement of stars away from
Earth.
Reduction: A process in which a chemical substance gives off oxygen or

takes on electrons.
Reed: A tall woody perennial grass that has a hollow stem.
Reflection: The bouncing of light rays in a regular pattern off the surface

of an object.
Reflector telescope: A telescope that directs light from an opening at

one end to a concave mirror at the far end, which reflects the light
back to a smaller mirror that directs it to an eyepiece on the side of the
tube.
Refraction: The bending of light rays as they pass at an angle from

one transparent or clear medium into a second one of different


density.
Refractor telescope: A telescope that directs light through a glass lens,

which bends the light waves and brings them to a focus at an eyepiece
that acts as a magnifying glass.
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Relative age: The age of an object expressed in relation to another like

object, such as earlier or later.


Relative density: The density of one material compared to another.
Rennin: Enzyme used in making cheese.
Resistance: A partial or complete limiting of the flow of electrical

current through a material. The common unit of measure is the ohm.


Respiration: The physical process that supplies oxygen to living cells and

the chemical reactions that take place inside the cells.


Resultant: A force that results from the combined action of two other

forces.
Retina: The light-sensitive part of the eyeball that receives images and

transmits visual impulses through the optic nerve to the brain.


Ribosome: A protein composed of two subunits that functions in

protein synthesis (creation).


Rigidity: The amount an object will deflect when supporting a weight.

The less it deflects for a given amount of weight, the greater its
rigidity.
River: A main course of water into which many other smaller bodies of

water flow.
Rock: Naturally occurring solid mixture of minerals.
Rods: Cells in the retina that are sensitive to degrees of light and

movement.
Root hairs: Fine, hair-like extensions from the plants root.
Rotate: To turn around on an axis or center.
Runoff: Water that does not soak into the ground or evaporate, but flows

across the surface of the ground.

Salinity: The amount of salts dissolved in water.


Saliva: Watery mixture with chemicals that lubricates chewed food.
Sand: Granular portion of soil composed of the largest soil particles.
Sapwood: The outer wood in a tree, which is usually a lighter color.
Saturated: In referring to solutions, a solution that contains the max-

imum amount of solute for a given amount of solvent at a given


temperature.
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Saturation: The intensity of a color.


Scanning tunneling microscope: A microscope that can show images of

surfaces at the atomic level by scanning a probe over a surface.


Scientific method: Collecting evidence and arriving at a conclusion

under carefully controlled conditions.


Screw: A simple machine; an inclined plane wrapped around a cylinder.
Scurvy: A disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, which causes a

weakening of connective tissue in bone and muscle.


Sea cave: A cave in sea cliffs, formed most commonly by waves eroding

the rock.
Second law of motion (Newtons): The force exerted on an object is

proportional to the mass of the object times the acceleration produced by the force.
Sediment: Sand, silt, clay, rock, gravel, mud, or other matter that has

been transported by flowing water.


Sedimentary rock: Rock formed from compressed and solidified layers

of organic or inorganic matter.


Sedimentation: A process during which gravity pulls particles out of a

liquid.
Seed crystal: Small form of a crystalline structure that has all the facets of

a complete new crystal contained in it.


Seedling: A small plant just starting to grow into its mature form.
Seismic belt: Boundaries where Earths plates meet.
Seismic waves: Vibrations in rock and soil that transfer the force of an

earthquake from the focus into the surrounding area.


Seismograph: A device that detects and records vibrations of the ground.
Seismology: The study and measurement of earthquakes.
Seismometer: A seismograph that measures the movement of the

ground.
Self-pollination: The process in which pollen from one part of a plant

fertilizes ovules on another part of the same plant.


Semipermeable membrane: A thin barrier between two solutions that

permits only certain components of the solutions, usually the solvent,


to pass through.
Sensory memory: Memory that the brain retains for a few seconds.
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Sepal: The outermost part of a flower; typically leaflike and green.


Sexual reproduction: A reproductive process that involves the union of

two individuals in the exchange of genetic material.


Shear stress: An applied force to a give area.
Shell: A region of space around the center of the atom in which electrons

are located; also, a hard outer covering that protects an animal living
inside.
Short-term memory: Also known as working memory, this memory was

transferred here from sensory memory.


Sidereal day: The time it takes for a particular star to travel around and

reach the same position in the sky; about four minutes shorter than
the average solar day.
Silt: Medium-sized soil particles.
Simple machine: Any of the basic structures that provide a mechanical

advantage and have no or few moving parts.


Smog: A form of air pollution produced when moisture in the air

combines and reacts with the products of fossil fuel combustion.


Smog is characterized by hazy skies and a tendency to cause respiratory problems among humans.
Softwood: Wood from coniferous trees, which usually remain green all

year.
Soil: The upper layer of Earth that contains nutrients for plants and

organisms; a mixture of mineral matter, organic matter, air, and


water.
Soil horizon: An identifiable soil layer due to color, structure, and/or

texture.
Soil profile: Combined soil horizons or layers.
Solar collector: A device that absorbs sunlight and collects solar heat.
Solar day: Called a day, the time between each arrival of the Sun at its

highest point.
Solar eclipse: An eclipse that occurs when the Moon passes between

Earth and the Sun, casting a shadow on Earth.


Solar energy: Any form of electromagnetic radiation that is emitted by

the Sun.
Solubility: The tendency of a substance to dissolve in some other

substance.
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Soluble: A substance that can be dissolved in some other substance.


Solute: The substance that is dissolved to make a solution and exists

in the least amount in a solution, for example sugar in sugar


water.
Solution: A mixture of two or more substances that appears to be uni-

form throughout except on a molecular level.


Solvent: The major component of a solution or the liquid in which

some other component is dissolved, for example water in sugar


water.
Specific gravity: The ratio of the density of a substance to the density of

pure water.
Specific heat capacity: The energy required to raise the temperature of

1 kilogram of the substance by 1 degree Celsius.


Speleologist: One who studies caves.
Speleology: Scientific study of caves and their plant and animal life.
Spelunkers: Also called cavers, people who explore caves for a hobby.
Spiracles: The openings on an insects side where air enters.
Spoilage: The condition when food has taken on an undesirable color,

odor, or texture.
Spore: A small, usually one-celled, reproductive body that is capable of

growing into a new organism.


Stalactite: Cylindrical or icicle-shaped mineral deposit projecting down-

ward from the roof of a cave. (Pronounced sta-LACK-tite.)


Stalagmite: Cylindrical or icicle-shaped mineral deposit projecting

upward from the floor of a cave. (Pronounced sta-LAG-mite.)


Stamen: Male reproductive organ of flowers that is composed of the

anther and filament.


Standard: A base for comparison.
Star: A vast clump of hydrogen gas and dust that produces great energy

through fusion reactions at its core.


Static electricity: A form of electricity produced by friction in which the

electric charge does not flow in a current but stays in one place.
Stigma: Top part of the pistil upon which pollen lands and receives the

male pollen grains during fertilization.


Stomata: Pores in the epidermis (surface) of leaves.
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Storm: An extreme atmospheric disturbance, associated with strong

damaging winds, and often with thunder and lightning.


Storm chasers: People who track and seek out storms, often tornadoes.
Stratification: Layers according to density; applies to fluids.
Streak: The color of the dust left when a mineral is rubbed across a rough

surface.
Style: Stalk of the pistil that connects the stigma to the ovary.
Subatomic: Smaller than an atom. It usually refers to particles that make

up an atom, such as protons, neutrons, and electrons.


Sublime: The process of changing a solid into a vapor without passing

through the liquid phase.


Substrate: The substance on which an enzyme operates in a chemical

reaction.
Succulent: Plants that live in dry environments and have water storage

tissue.
Sundial: A device that uses the position of the Sun to indicate time.
Supersaturated: Solution that is more highly concentrated than is nor-

mally possible under given conditions of temperature and pressure.


Supertaster: A person who is extremely sensitive to specific tastes due to

a greater number of taste buds.


Supplements: A substance intended to enhance the diet.
Surface area: The total area of the outside of an object; the area of a body

of water that is exposed to the air.


Surface tension: The attractive force of molecules to each other on the

surface of a liquid.
Surface water: Water in lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams.
Suspension: A temporary mixture of a solid in a gas or liquid from which

the solid will eventually settle out.


Swim bladder: Located above the stomach, takes in air when the fish

wants to move upwards and releases air when the fish wants to move
downwards.
Symbiosis: A pattern in which two or more organisms live in close

connection with each other, often to the benefit of both or all


organisms.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

lxxvii

WORDS TO KNOW

Synthesis reaction: A chemical reaction in which two or more substan-

ces combine to form a new substance.


Synthesize: To make something artificially, in a laboratory or chemical

plant, that is generally not found in nature.


Synthetic: A substance that is synthesized, or manufactured, in a labo-

ratory; not naturally occurring.


Synthetic crystals: Artificial or manmade crystals.

Taiga: A large land biome mostly dominated by coniferous trees.


Taste buds: Groups of taste cells located on the papillae that recognize

the different tastes.


Taste pore: The opening at the top of the taste bud from which chem-

icals reach the taste cells.


Tectonic: Relating to the forces and structures of the outer shell of Earth.
Tectonic plates: Huge flat rocks that form Earths crust.
Telescope: A tube with lenses or mirrors that collect, transmit, and focus

light.
Temperate: Mild or moderate weather conditions.
Temperature: The measure of the average energy of the molecules in a

substance.
Tendon: Tough, fibrous connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone.
Tensile strength: The force needed to stretch a material until it breaks.
Terminal: A connection in an electric circuit; usually a connection on a

source of electric energy such as a battery.


Terracing: A series of horizontal ridges made in a hillside to reduce

erosion.
Testa: A tough outer layer that protects the embryo and endosperm of a

seed from damage.


Theory of special relativity: Theory put forth by Albert Einstein that

time is not absolute, but it is relative according to the speed of the


observers frame of reference.
Thermal conductivity: A number representing a materials ability to

conduct heat.
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Experiment Central, 2nd edition

WORDS TO KNOW

Thermal energy: Kinetic energy caused by the movement of molecules

due to temperature.
Thermal inversion: A region in which the warmer air lies above the

colder air; can cause smog to worsen.


Thermal pollution: The discharge of heated water from industrial proc-

esses that can kill or injure water life.


Thiamine: A vitamin of the B complex that is essential to normal

metabolism and nerve function.


Thigmotropism: The tendency for a plant to grow toward a surface it

touches.
Third law of motion (Newtons): For every action there is an equal and

opposite reaction.
Thorax: The middle segment of an insect body; the legs and wings are

connected to the thorax.


Tides: The cyclic rise and fall of seawater.
Titration: A procedure in which an acid and a base are slowly mixed to

achieve a neutral substance.


Topsoil: The uppermost layers of soil containing an abundant supply of

decomposed organic material to supply plants with nutrients.


Tornado: A violently rotating, narrow column of air in contact with the

ground and usually extending from a cumulonimbus cloud.


Total solar/lunar eclipse: An eclipse in which our view of the Sun/Moon

is totally blocked.
Toxic: Poisonous.
Trace element: A chemical element present in minute quantities.
Trace minerals: Minerals needed in relatively small quantities.
Translucent: Permits the passage of light.
Transpiration: Evaporation of water in the form of water vapor from the

stomata on the surfaces of leaves and stems of plants.


Troglobite: An animal that lives in a cave and is unable to live outside of

one.
Troglophile: An animal that lives the majority of its life cycle in a cave

but is also able to live outside of the cave.


Trogloxene: An animal that spends only part of its life cycle in a cave and

returns periodically to the cave.


Experiment Central, 2nd edition

lxxix

WORDS TO KNOW

Tropism: The growth or movement of a plant toward or away from a

stimulus.
Troposphere: The lowest layer of Earths atmosphere, ranging to an

altitude of about 9 miles (15 km) above Earths surface.


Trough: The lowest point of a wave. (Pronounced trawf.)
Tsunami: A large wave of water caused by an underwater earthquake.
Tuber: An underground, starch-storing stem, such as a potato.
Tundra: A treeless, frozen biome with low-lying plants.
Turbine: A spinning device used to transform mechanical power from

energy into electrical energy.


Turbulence: Air disturbance that affects an aircrafts flight.
Turgor pressure: The force that is exerted on a plants cell wall by the

water within the cell.


Tyndall effect: The effect achieved when colloidal particles reflect a

beam of light, making it visible when shined through such a mixture.

Ultraviolet: Electromagnetic radiation (energy) of a wavelength just

shorter than the violet (shortest wavelength) end of the visible light
spectrum and thus with higher energy than the visible light.
Unconfined aquifer: An aquifer under a layer of permeable rock and soil.
Unicellular: Living things that have one cell. Protozoans are unicellular,

for example.
Unit cell: The basic unit of the crystalline structure.
Universal law of gravity: The law of physics that defines the constancy

of the force of gravity between two bodies.


Updraft: Warm, moist air that moves away from the ground.
Upwelling: The process by which lower-level, nutrient-rich waters rise

upward to the oceans surface.

Vacuole: An enclosed, space-filling sac within plant cells containing

mostly water and providing structural support for the cell.


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Experiment Central, 2nd edition

WORDS TO KNOW

Van der Waals force: An attractive force between two molecules based

on the positive and negative side of the molecule.


Variable: Something that can affect the results of an experiment.
Vegetative propagation: A form of asexual reproduction in which plants

are produced that are genetically identical to the parent.


Velocity: The rate at which the position of an object changes with time,

including both the speed and the direction.


Veneer: Thin slices of wood.
Viable: The capability of developing or growing under favorable

conditions.
Vibration: A regular, back-and-forth motion of molecules in the air.
Viscosity: The measure of a fluids resistance to flow; its flowability.
Visible spectrum: The range of individual wavelengths of radiation

visible to the human eye when white light is broken into its component colors as it passes through a prism or by some other means.
Vitamin: A complex organic compound found naturally in plants and

animals that the body needs in small amounts for normal growth and
activity.
Volatilization: The process by which a liquid changes (volatilizes) to a

gas.
Volcano: A conical mountain or dome of lava, ash, and cinders that

forms around a vent leading to molten rock deep within Earth.


Voltage: Also called potential difference; a measurement of the amount

of electric energy stored in a mass of electric charges compared to the


energy stored in some other mass of charges. The common unit of
measure is the volt.
Voltmeter: An instrument for measuring the amperage, voltage, or

resistance in an electrical circuit.


Volume: The amount of space occupied by a three-dimensional object;

the amplitude or loudness of a sound.


Vortex: A rotating column of a fluid such as air or water.

Waste stream: The waste materials generated by the population of an

area, or by a specific industrial process, and removed for disposal.


Experiment Central, 2nd edition

lxxxi

WORDS TO KNOW

Water (hydrologic) cycle: The constant movement of water molecules

on Earth as they rise into the atmosphere as water vapor, condense


into droplets and fall to land or bodies of water, evaporate, and rise
again.
Water clock: A device that uses the flow of water to measure time.
Water table: The level of the upper surface of groundwater.
Water vapor: Water in its gaseous state.
Water-soluble vitamins: Vitamins such as C and the B-complex

vitamins that dissolve in the watery parts of plant and animal


tissues.
Waterline: The highest point to which water rises on the hull of a ship.

The portion of the hull below the waterline is under water.


Wave: A means of transmitting energy in which the peak energy occurs

at a regular interval; the rise and fall of the ocean water.


Wavelength: The distance between the peak of a wave of light, heat, or

other form of energy and the next corresponding peak.


Weather: The state of the troposphere at a particular time and place.
Weather forecasting: The scientific predictions of future weather

patterns.
Weathered: Natural process that breaks down rocks and minerals at

Earths surface into simpler materials by physical (mechanical) or


chemical means.
Wedge: A simple machine; a form of inclined plane.
Weight: The gravitational attraction of Earth on an object; the measure

of the heaviness of an object.


Wet cell: A source of electricity that uses a liquid electrolyte.
Wetlands: Areas that are wet or covered with water for at least part of the

year.
Wheel and axle: A simple machine; a larger wheel(s) fastened to a

smaller cylinder, an axle, so that they turn together.


Work: The result of a force moving a mass a given distance. The greater

the mass or the greater the distance, the greater the work involved.

Xanthophyll: Yellow pigment in plants.


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Experiment Central, 2nd edition

WORDS TO KNOW

Xerophytes: Plants that require little water to survive.


Xylem: Plant tissue consisting of elongated, thick-walled cells that trans-

port water and mineral nutrients. (Pronounced ZY-lem.)

Yeast: A single-celled fungi that can be used to as a leavening agent.

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

lxxxiii

Acid Rain

id you know that acid rain can also be acid snow, acid fog, or even
acid dust? Acid rain is a form of precipitation that is significantly
more acidic than neutral water. The pH scale offers a way to compare
the acidity of substances, including rain. pH (the abbreviation for
potential hydrogen) is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.
The symbol pH refers to the concentration of hydrogen ions present in a
liter of fluid. The pH scale ranges from 0 (greatest concentration of
hydrogen ions and therefore most acidic) to 14 (least concentration of
hydrogen ions and therefore most alkaline). An alkaline solution is also
called a base. The number 7 represents a neutral solution, such as pure
water.
Water with a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than water with a pH
of 5. A pH of 4 is 100 times more acidic than a pH of 6. So you can see
that a small increase or decrease in pH makes a big difference in acid
levels.

How does acid get in rain? Normal rainfall is slightly acidic, with a
pH of about 5.6. Rain with a pH below 5.6 is considered to be acid rain.
Acid rain is created when smoke and fumes from burning fossil fuels
coal, oil, and natural gasrise into the air. The smoke and fumes come
from oil- and coal-fired power plants, factory smokestacks, and automobile exhaust.
The main toxic (poisonous) chemicals in this pollution are sulfur
dioxide and nitrogen oxides. These chemicals react with sunlight and
moisture in the air to produce rain or snow that is a mild solution of
sulfuric acid and nitric acid. Some of the pollutant particles fall to the
ground as acid dust. When acid rain falls, this dust dissolves in the water,
further increasing the rains acidity.
Why is acid rain a problem? Acid rain can make lakes and streams
so toxic that nothing can live there. Amphibians and the young of most
1

Acid Rain

The pH scale shows the acidity


and alkalinity of liquids.
GAL E GR OU P.

The taller the smokestacks, the


longeracidrainstaysintheairand
the farther it is likely to travel.
P HO TO R ESE AR CH ERS INC .

fish are sensitive to acidity, so they are the first to die. With water at a pH
of 5.0, most fish eggs are unable to hatch. If the pH level continues to
drop, adult animals begin to die. Experiment 1
will help you determine how sensitive brine
shrimp are to acid rain.
Acidity kills plants in the water, too, thus
upsetting the food chain. Even plant-eating fish
that can tolerate low pH levels are soon unable
to find enough to eat. With few plant-eating fish
able to survive, the fish-eating fish go hungry,
too.
Acid rain can slowly kill whole forests by
dissolving the toxic metals in soil and rock. In
their dissolved form, these metals damage tree
roots. Acid rain also dissolves nutrients in the
soil and washes them away before the trees and
plants can use them. In addition, acid rain burns
tree leaves and needles and wears away their
protective coatings, leaving them unable to produce enough food energy to meet the trees
needs. Viruses, fungi, and pests can then easily
finish off the weakened trees. Experiment 2 will
help you determine how acid rain affects plant
growth.

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Acid Rain

Along with harming plants and life, acid


rain can also damage manmade structures.
Many buildings are made of limestone. Limestone is a type of rock that primarily contains
calcium carbonate. Statues are often made from
marble, a hard substance that is also composed of
calcium carbonate. Acids in the rain react with
the calcium and slowly dissolve the material. In
Experiment 3, you will test how acid rain can
affect structures.
What can be done? Acid rain was first
identified in 1852 by an English chemist
named Robert Angus Smith. He suggested that factories that burned
coal were sending sulfur dioxide into the air. Since then, the world
has gained many more factoriesand many more sources of air
pollution.

Trees take a long time to


recover from damage caused by
acid rain. P HO TO
RE SE ARC HE RS I NC .

Fortunately, scientists have found ways to wash the sulfur out of


coal before it is burned and to wash the sulfur out of smoke before it
leaves the smokestacks. In addition, new vehicles must now have a
device called a catalytic converter, which uses filters and chemicals to
change carbon monoxide and other air pollutants into carbon dioxide

pH levels in the United States.


GA LE G RO UP.

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Acid Rain

WORDS TO KNOW
Acid rain: A form of precipitation that is significantly
more acidic than neutral water, often produced as
the result of industrial processes and pollution.
Alkaline: Having a pH of more than 7.
Amphibians: Animals that live both on land and in
water.
Base: A water-soluble compound that when dissolved in water makes an alkaline, or basic, solution with a pH of more than 7.
Control experiment: A set-up that is identical to
the experiment but is not affected by the variable that will be changed during the
experiment.
Fossil fuel: A fuel such as coal, oil, or natural gas
that is formed over millions of years from the
remains of plants and animals.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement
that can be tested by observation and/or
experiment.

Ion: An atom or groups of atoms that carry an


electrical chargeeither positive or negativeas a result of losing or gaining one or
more electrons.
Neutralization: A chemical process in which the
mixing of an acidic solution with a basic
(alkaline) solution results in a solution that
has the properties of neither an acid nor a
base.
pH: A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a
solution referring to the concentration of
hydrogen ions present in a liter of a given fluid.
The pH scale ranges from 0 (greatest concentration of hydrogen ions and therefore most
acidic) to 14 (least concentration of hydrogen
ions and therefore most alkaline), with 7 representing a neutral solution, such as pure water.
Toxic: Poisonous.
Variable: Something that might affect the results
of an experiment.

and water. This device nearly eliminates the nitrogen oxide released by
cars exhaust systems.
Lime, which is a natural base, can be added to streams and lakes to
neutralize their acidity. Neutralization is a chemical process in which an
acidic solution is mixed with a basic (alkaline) solution, resulting in a
solution that is neutralit has the properties of neither an acid nor a base.
However, neutralizing streams and lakes is expensive and must continue
as long as acid rain keeps falling.
Scientists are also researching more ways to use sources of energy that
do not pollute the air, including solar power. We all can help reduce acid
rain by reducing our own use of fossil fuels and by learning more about
the effects of acid rain.
4

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Acid Rain

EXPERIMENT 1
Acid Rain and Animals:
How does acid rain affect
brine shrimp?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you

will use vinegar, which is an acid, to gradually


lower the pH level of water containing brine
shrimp. (As the pH level drops, acidity
increases.) You will measure the changing pH
level and observe how the shrimp react.
Before you begin, make an educated guess
about the outcome of this experiment based on
your knowledge of acid rain. This educated
guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A
hypothesis should explain these things:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the size and health of the brine shrimp
the number of brine shrimp in a given
amount of water
the temperature of the water
the kind and amount of food the brine
shrimp receive
the pH level of the water
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the survival of
the brine shrimp. If you change more than one
variable, you will not be able to tell which variable had the most effect on the shrimps
survival.

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test through observation.
Your experiment will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is
correct. Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: All the
brine shrimp will be dead by the time the pH level of the water
reaches 4.5.
In this case, the variable you will change is the pH level of the water,
and the variable you will measure is the number of brine shrimp that
remain alive. You expect them all to die by the time the pH level
reaches 4.5.
You will also set up a control experiment. It will be identical to the
real experiment, except that the pH level will remain the same in the
control water and decrease in the experimental water.
After each pH decrease in the experimental water, you will estimate
the number of brine shrimp that remain alive in the experimental and the
control water. If the shrimp in the experimental water are all dead by the
time the pH reaches 4.5, while most remain alive in the control water, you
will know your hypothesis is correct.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Acid Rain

Level of Difficulty Moderate, because of the time

How to Experiment Safely


Be careful in handling the glass jars. If possible,
wear goggles so the vinegar will not splash in
your eyes.

involved.
Materials Needed

1 tablespoon of live brine shrimp (Brine


shrimp are sold as fish food at tropical
and saltwater fish shops. The clerk will
measure 1 tablespoon of shrimp, which
contains several hundred shrimp, and pour it into a container
of water.)
2 wide-mouth jars
distilled water at room temperature (or tap water that has been in
an open container overnight to allow the chlorine in it to
evaporate)
2 small, clear containers
2 labels and a marker
litmus paper and a color scale
white vinegar
measuring spoons
a stirrer
2 medicine droppers
1 package dry yeast
Optional: small aquarium pump with two outlets and plastic
tubing

Approximate Budget $5 for the brine shrimp, litmus paper, and yeast.

(The other materials should be available in most households.)


Timetable One week.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Fill both glass jars half-full of water.


2. Use the two small, clear containers to divide the brine shrimp into
two equal portions.
3. Pour one portion of shrimp into each of the jars. Rinse the small
containers. Label one jar Control and one Experiment.
4. Dip a different strip of litmus paper into each jar, check the color
scale, and record the beginning pH level of each jar on a chart like
the one illustrated.
6

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Acid Rain

5. Use the following steps to take a sample


of water from each jar and estimate the
number of live shrimp in it:
a. Gently stir the water in the experimental jar until the shrimp are distributed evenly.
b. Quickly use a medicine dropper to
take out a sample of water and
shrimp.
c. Deposit the sample in one of the clear
containers.
d. Count or estimate the number of live
brine shrimp in it.
e. Record the number on your chart.
f. Pour the sample back into the same jar.
g. Rinse the dropper and container.
h. Complete the same process with the control jar.
6. Use the other medicine dropper to slowly add 2 tablespoons
(30 ml) of vinegar to the experimental jar. Again measure and
record the pH level in that jar. Do not
add vinegar to the control jar.
7. Place both jars in a warm, lighted place
where they will not receive direct sun.
Add a pinch of dry yeast to both jars as
food for the brine shrimp.
8. Optional: Attach a length of plastic tubing to each outlet on the aquarium
pump. Insert one of the tubes into each
jar so it rests on the bottom of the jar.
Start the pump, which will keep the water
gently moving and increase its oxygen
content.
9. Each day for a week:

Step 4: Recording chart for


Experiment 1. G AL E GR OUP .

Step 5d: Brine shrimp in a


small, clear container. GA LE
GRO UP.

a. Add another pinch of dry yeast to


both jars.
b. Add 2 more tablespoons of vinegar to
the experimental jar.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Acid Rain

Troubleshooters Guide
Below are some problems that may arise during
this experiment, some possible causes, and
ways to remedy the problems.
Problem: All or nearly all the brine shrimp died
in both jars.

c. Measure and record the pH levels of


both jars.
d. Repeat Step 5 to monitor how many
live brine shrimp remain in both jars.
If no live brine shrimp remain in the
experimental jar before the end of the
week, end the experiment.

Possible causes:
1. The shrimp were old. The fish shop
might have kept those shrimp for some
time without feeding them. Try again
with a fresh batch of shrimp.
2. The water had too much chlorine or
other chemicals in it. Try again with
water from a different source or let the
water sit longer before using it.
3. The yeast polluted the water. Try again,
feeding the shrimp much less yeast or not
at all.
4. The water became too cold or too hot.
Make the necessary adjustments and try
again.
Problem: Very few of the shrimp died in the
experimental jar.
Possible cause: The pH did not reach a toxic
level. Continue the experiment, further
decreasing the pH level of the experimental
water.

Summary of Results Use the data on your chart

to create a line or bar graph of your findings.


Then study your chart and graph and decide
whether your hypothesis was correct. At what
pH level did the brine shrimp in the experimental jar start to die in greater numbers? At what
level were they all dead? Did most of the shrimp
in your control jar survive until the end of the
week? Write a paragraph summarizing your findings and explaining whether they supported your
hypothesis.
Change the Variables To vary this experiment,

consider these possibilities:


Try hatching your own brine shrimp from
eggs bought at a pet shop. The hatched
shrimp will be very small, but cheap,
available, and plentiful. Or use a plankton
net to collect small aquatic organisms
from pond water. You may need to use a
microscope to monitor them during the
experiment.

Change the water temperature. Put two jars of water with a pH of


4.8 (mildly acid rain) under different temperature conditions
to see if the shrimp tolerate acid rain better at higher or lower
temperatures.
Change the type of acid by using lemon juice. It is more
acidic than vinegar and will cause the pH level to drop more
quickly.
8

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Acid Rain

EXPERIMENT 2
Acid Rain and Plants: How does
acid rain affect plant growth?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will

use cuttings of plants that are easy to grow, such


as ivy, philodendron, begonia, or coleus. You will
place two cuttings in water with a pH level of 7.0,
which is neutral, and two cuttings in water with a
pH of 4.0, which is in the range of acid rain. Your
goal is to determine how the acidity affects the
growth of roots.
Before you begin, make an educated guess
or hypothesis about the outcome of this experiment based on your understanding of acid rain.
This educated guess, or prediction, is your
hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these
things:

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the type, size, and health of the plant
cuttings
the air temperature where the jars of
cuttings are placed
the amount of sun the cuttings receive
the pH level of the water
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the growth of
roots. If you change more than one variable,
you will not be able to tell which one had the
most effect on root growth.

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be
something you can test through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible
hypothesis for this experiment: Cuttings placed in water with a pH
level of 4.0 will not grow any roots, while cuttings in water with a pH of
7.0 will begin to grow roots during the experiment.
In this case, the variable you will change is the pH level of the water,
and the variable you will measure is the amount of roots that grow. You
expect no roots to grow in the water with a pH level of 4.0.
The cuttings in the water with a pH of 7.0 serve as a control experiment, allowing you to observe root growth when the pH of the water
remains neutral. After the two-week period of the experiment, if the
cuttings in the neutral water have grown roots, but those in the acid
water have not, you will know your hypothesis is correct.
Level of Difficulty Moderate, because of the time involved.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Acid Rain

Materials Needed

How to Experiment Safely


Be careful in handling glass jars.

4 small, clear jars


4 labels and a marker
2 large water containers
water
litmus paper and a color scale

white vinegar
baking soda
measuring cups and spoons
a stirrer
2 cuttings each of two easily grown plants, such as ivy, philodendron, begonia, or coleus (Make sure each cutting has the same
number of leaves and same amount of stem.)

Approximate Budget $5 for the plants and litmus paper. (Ask friends,

neighbors, or family members for cuttings so you will not need to


buy plants, and the other materials should be available in most
households.)
Timetable Two weeks to observe plant growth.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Label the four small jars in this way: (name of plant 1), neutral;
(name of plant 1), acid; (name of plant 2), neutral; (name of plant
2), acid.
2. Pour 2 cups of water into each of the large containers.
3. Use the litmus paper and a litmus color scale to measure the pH
level of the neutral or control container. It should be 7.0. If it is
higher, add a drop or two of vinegar, stir, and check it again. If
it is lower than 7.0, sprinkle in a little baking soda, stir, and
check again. Repeat until the color scale shows that the pH level
is 7.0.
4. Pour 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of vinegar into the acid or experimental
container, stir, and check the pH level. It should be 4.0. If it is
higher or lower, add vinegar or baking soda, as in Step 3.
5. Nearly fill the two small jars labeled Neutral with the neutral
water. Then pour the same amount of acid water into the two
10

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Acid Rain

Step 6: Plant cuttings in labeled


jars of water. GAL E GR OU P.

6.
7.
8.
9.

small jars labeled Acid. Label and save any leftover water so you
can keep the small jars full of water with the correct pH level.
Place the four plant cuttings in their labeled jars. Make sure the
stem and part of the lowest leaf is under water.
Place all four jars in a warm, sunny place.
Create a chart like the one illustrated. Draw each cutting to show
how it looked at the beginning.
For the next two weeks:

Step 8: Recording chart for


Experiment 2. GA LE G ROU P.

a. Every day, make sure all cuttings are still


in the water. Add more acid or neutral
water to replace any that evaporates.
(Be careful to add the right kind to
each cup.)
b. Every other day, check the pH of the
water in each cup, and use vinegar or
baking soda to adjust it so it is 7.0
or 4.0.
c. Every day, record any changes or growth
on the chart. Clearly show any roots that
grow longer or branch out, leaves that
grow larger, and the emergence of new
leaves.
Summary of Results Study the drawings on your

chart and decide whether your hypothesis was


correct. Did both cuttings in acid water not
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

11

Acid Rain

Troubleshooters Guide
Below are some problems that may arise during
this experiment, some possible causes, and
ways to remedy the problems.
Problem: None of the cuttings grew.
Possible causes:
1. The cuttings were infected with insects,
fungus, or something else. Try the
experiment again with fresh cuttings
from different plants. Use different jars or
wash the old jars well.
2. The cuttings were from old, woody sections of the plant. Try cuttings from the
growing tips of the plants.
3. The cuttings did not receive enough sun
or became too cold or too hot. Perhaps
their stems did not remain in the water.
Try again, placing the cups in a warm
(not hot) place where they will receive
several hours of sun every day. Check to
make sure the stems remain underwater.
Problem: All of the cuttings grew about the
same amount.
Possible causes:
1. The pH of the water in the acid jars might
not have remained at 4.0. Try the
experiment again, carefully checking the
pH levels during the observation period.

grow at all? Or did they grow some, but less than


those in neutral water? Was the cutting of one
plant more tolerant of acid water than the cutting of the other plant? Did both cuttings in
neutral water grow as you expected? Write a
paragraph summarizing your findings and
explaining whether they supported your
hypothesis.
Change the Variables Here are some ways you

can vary this experiment:


Use different kinds of plants.
Water potted plants with acid and neutral
water and compare their leaf and stem
growth and appearance, general health,
and frequency of blooming, if applicable,
over time.
Use water with different pH levels,
such as 5.0, 4.0, and 3.0 to determine
if growth decreases with each increase
in acidity.

EXPERIMENT 3
Acid Rain: Can acid rain
harm structures?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you

will observe how acid rain can harm buildings,


statues, and other structures. The acid you will
be using is vinegar, which is about 5% acid.
Vinegar is slightly more acidic than acid rain,
but acid rain works its reaction over a period of
years and this experiment will only take about a
week. You will test vinegars effect on two different forms of structural materials: marble and
limestone. For the limestone, you will use chalk, which is a type of
limestone. You can determine if some of the materials dissolve by noting
the weight and appearance. By weighing the materials both before and

2. Perhaps both kinds of plants are tolerant


of acid water. That would mean your
hypothesis is incorrect for these kinds of
plants.

12

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Acid Rain

after they are exposed to vinegar, you can measure the effect of acid on structures.
What Are the Variables?
Before you begin, make an educated guess
about the outcome of this experiment based
Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
on your knowledge of acid rain. This educated
variables in this experiment:
guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A
hypothesis should explain these things:
the temperature of the solution
the room temperature
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the size of the materials
the variable you will measure
the shape of the materials
what you expect to happen
In other words, the variables in this experiment
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and
are everything that might affect the rate at
measurable. It must be something you can test
which the materials dissolve. If you change
more than one variable at the same time, you
through further investigation. Your experiment
will not be able to tell which variable had the
will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is
most effect on the chalk and marble.
correct. Here is one possible hypothesis for this
experiment: Acid will wear away some of the
materials, causing the substances to weigh less
after they are immersed in acid.
In this case, the variable you will change is the acidity. The variable
you will measure is the appearance and weight of the material.
Conducting a control experiment for each material will help you
isolate the variable and measure the changes in the dependent variable.
Only one variable will change between the control and your experiment.
In this experiment, you will have two controls: one for the marble and one
for the limestone (chalk). For the controls, you will use distilled water.
Level of Difficulty Moderate.
Materials Needed

crushed marbles (the size of small pebbles), available from a craft


or home garden store
white chalk
gram scale
wax paper
4 small jars with lids
distilled water
white vinegar
spoons
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

13

Acid Rain

Approximate Budget $8 (assuming gram scale is

How to Experiment Safely


Make sure the experiment is well labeled and
stored somewhere safe. Wash your hands after
setting up and finishing the experiment.

2.
3.

4.
5.
6.

7.
8.
9.

Step 2: The recording chart for


Experiment 3. I LLU STR AT IO N

10.

BY T EM AH NE LS ON.

Starting Ending
Weight Weight
Marble
Marble
control
Limestone
Limestone
control

14

a household item).
Timetable 20 minutes setup; about ten minutes

daily for five to 10 days.


Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Label each of the jars: Marble, Marble


Control, Limestone, and Limestone Control.
Make a chart listing the materials, starting weight, ending weight,
and appearance. (See chart).
Place a sheet of wax paper on the gram scale and weight out 2
grams of the crushed marble. (You can use less but make sure to
note the exact weight in your chart.) Carefully pour into the jar
labeled Marble.
Weigh another 2 grams of the marble and pour into the Control jar.
Break the chalk into roughly 1-inch (2.5 centimeters) pieces.
Using a fresh piece of wax paper, weigh 2 grams of the chalk and
place in the jar labeled Limestone. Weigh out another 2 grams
and place in the Control jar.
In both control jars, cover the chalk and marble with distilled water.
In both experimental jars, cover the chalk and marble with
vinegar.
After four days, note the appearance of the materials and solutions
in your chart. Does the chalk look smaller? Does the vinegar
appear cloudy?
After a minimum of a week, when it looks like the acid has affected
the material, carefully scoop out the marble and chalk onto
separate sheets of wax paper. You may
need to rinse them off. Scoop out the
control marble and chalk too. Make
sure to keep track of the test and control
Appearance
materials! You can either label the wax
papers or keep the material next to the
labeled jar.
11. Let the marble and chalk pieces dry
overnight.
12. When completely dry, weigh each of the
materials and note the results.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Acid Rain

Summary of Results Examine your results and


note the appearance of each of the materials.
Calculate the difference between the starting
and ending weights. Compare the chalk and
marble to the controls. How did the acid from
the vinegar affect the materials? Was your
hypothesis correct?
Change the Variables There are several ways you

can alter the variables in this experiment. You


can try different materials, such as metals. Dolomite is a rock that is similar to limestone. You
can also vary the strength of the acid. For a
weaker acid, more similar to acid rain, add
water to the vinegar. For a stronger acid, you
can carefully boil away some of the vinegars
water, leaving more of the acid.

Marble control

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept You can explore many

other aspects of acid rain. Consider what puzzles you about this topic. For
example, what would happen if you added vinegar or another acid to a jar
of water with limestone (calcium carbonate) gravel in the bottom? Lime is
a base that can neutralize acid, so would the pH level of the water still
drop with the limestone in there?
How does ground lime affect plants that have been damaged by acid
rain? Will they begin growing well again if lime neutralizes the soil? What
if lime is applied first and then the plants are watered with acid rain? Will
the lime protect them? How does acid rain affect
the germination of seeds? Which plants are more
tolerant of acid rain than others?
Check the Further Readings section and talk
with your science teacher or school or communLimestone
ity media specialist to start gathering informaLimestone
tion on acid rain questions that interest you.

Step 3: Carefully pour into the


jar labeled Marble.&rdquo
ILL US TRA TI ON B Y TE MA H
NEL SO N.

Step 7: The controlled jars are


filled with distilled water. The
experimental jars are filled
with vinegar. I LL UST RA TI ON
BY T EMA H NE LS ON.

Marble
Marble control

control

Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original

experiment, you need to plan carefully and think


Experiment Central, 2nd edition

15

Acid Rain

Troubleshooters Guide
Below is a problem that may arise during this
experiment, a possible cause, and a way to
remedy the problem.
Problem: The marble weighed the same, even
after ten days.
Possible cause: Marble is a much harder material than chalk. The pieces may have been too
large to dissolve. Try again with marble pieces
that are more finely crushed.
Problem: There was no notable difference in the
weight of the chalk, even though it appears
smaller.
Possible cause: The chalk may still contain
some of the liquid it absorbed, which would
add weight. Set the chalk aside in a warm
area for another day, then weigh again.

things through. Otherwise, you might not be


sure what question you are answering, what you
are or should be measuring, or what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an
experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying
question behindthe experiment you
propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved, and
select one that will help you answer the
question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated
guess about the answer to your question.
Decide how to change the variable you
selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results In

the two acid rain experiments, your raw data


might include not only charts of brine shrimp survival rates and root
growth, but also drawings or photographs of these changes.
If you display your experiment, limit the amount of information you
offer, so viewers will not be overwhelmed by detail. Make clear your
beginning question, the variable you changed, the variable you measured,
the results, and your conclusions. Viewersand judges at science fairs
will want to see how your experiment was set up. You might include
photographs or drawings of the steps of the experiment. Viewers will
want to know what materials you used, how long each step took, and
other basic information.
Related Projects You can undertake a variety of projects related to

acid rain. For example, you might explore how acid rain affects
buildings, statues, and other outdoor structures. Which kinds of
stone are most susceptible to damage from acid rain? How do people
fare in regions with highly acidic rain? Do they have more respiratory
problems?
16

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Acid Rain

For More Information


Edmonds, Alex. A Closer Look at Acid Rain.
Brookfield, CT: Copper Beech Books, 1997.
Examines the causes of acid rain; its effects on
plants, lakes, and human health; and ways to
tackle the problem.
Gutnik, Martin. Experiments That Explore Acid Rain.
Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1992. Outlines
projects and experiments dealing with acid rain.
Parks, Peggy J. Acid Rain. Detroit, MI: KidHaven
Press, 2006. Explanation and effects of acid rain.
Rainis, Kenneth. Environmental Science Projects for
Young Scientists. New York: Franklin Watts, 1994.
Outlines detailed projects easily completed by
middle school students.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Acid
Rain. http://www.epa.gov/acidrain (accessed on
January 17, 2008).

The sulphur in acid rain reacts


with the limestone in statues,
forming a powder that easily
washes away. PHO TO
RES EA RC HER S I NC.

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

17

Adhesives

n adhesive is any substance that binds or adheres objects together.


Adhesives are generally out of sight, but they are all around us. They
are holding together the pages of a book, the wood in furniture, and the
cardboard in food packages. Adhesives are also a part of modern technologies, such as airplanes, sports equipment, and electronics. And as the
development of adhesives continues to improve, they are increasingly
becoming a part of products and structures.
Natures sticky stuff Before the development of synthetic (manmade) adhesives, people used natural adhesives. Many animals and plants
have sticky substances. Historians have found evidence that about 3,000
years ago Egyptians made an early form of paper called papyrus (pronounced pa-PI-rus) with a natural starch, like flour. Manuscripts were
bound with egg whites. Letters were sealed with beeswax.
Humans arent the only organisms that use adhesives. The gecko, for
example, can produce an adhesive on its feet that it uses to climb
vertically. The natural adhesive of this lizard is so strong it can support
the geckos weight but it can also detach itself from the surface easily.
Beetles and other insects also produce natural adhesives. Researchers
study the natural adhesives on animals to develop similar synthetic adhesives.
Glue it on The manufacturing of modern glues began about the turn
of the nineteenth century. The understanding and development of polymers helped advance the manufacturing of glues. Glues are polymers,
long chains of molecules made up of smaller, repeating molecules. Both
natural and synthetic polymers are all around us. Plastics are a type of
synthetic polymer. Natural polymers include silk and rubber, along with
other sticky substances in nature.
How glues cause materials to bond to one another depends upon the
glue polymer. In modern day, there are a variety of glue types. Some
examples of commonly used glues include:
19

Adhesives

The gecko can produce an


adhesive on its feet that it uses
to climb vertically. AP PH OT O/
K EYS TO NE, STE FF EN
S CHM ID T.

20

All purpose white glue, which is commonly used in schools and homes, is a
substance called polyvinyl acetate (PVA).
PVA is a water-based glue that bonds
many different types of surfaces together.
Cyanoacrylate glues are also known as
superglue. A small amount of this glue
will form an extremely strong bond.
Contact cement is a rubber-based glue
that can have both a lighter and stronger
bond, depending upon how it is applied.
Epoxies come as two parts that must be
mixed together. One part causes the other
part to link together in crosslinks and
harden, resulting in an extremely strong
bond.
One way that glue bonds surfaces together is
through a chemical change. Glue can cause the
molecules to become attracted to one another.
This attractive force is referred to as a van der
Waals force. Named after Dutch scientist
Johannes Diderik van der Waals (18371923),
the van der Waals forces relates to the attraction
between molecules that have a positive and negative end.
The water molecule, for example, is made up of two hydrogen atoms
and an oxygen atom. It has a positive hydrogen side and a negative oxygen
side. Because opposite charges attract, the hydrogen side of one water
molecule is attracted to the negative side of another oxygen molecule.
Even though these forces are relatively weak, when millions of separate
van der Waals forces occur in millions of water molecules it can form a
bond.
The PVA glue molecule also has positive charges on one side and
negative on the other. If the glue and surface molecules are close to one
another a bond can form.
Another way glue works is by mechanical bonding. When glue is
spread on a surface it seeps into all the tiny pores and cracks of the
material. When the glue hardens, a bond is formed.
PVA works mainly by evaporation. After spreading it on the surface,
the water evaporates and the chemicals bonds to one another. The
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Adhesives

Van der Waals Force

The van der Waals forces relates


to the attraction between
molecules that have a positive and
negative end. I LL US TRA TI ON
BY TEM AH N EL SON .

cyanoacrylate glues also depend on water. Cyanoacrylate molecules begin


lining up into chains when they come into contact with water. When the
molecules can no longer move, the glue is hard.
Behind the tape Another form of familiar adhesive is tape. Tapes are
relatively new to the adhesive world, with the first tapes developed in the
1800s. Masking tape was invented in the 1920s. Soon after came the first
transparent tape. In modern day, there are a wide variety of tapes of all
stickiness levels.
There are two parts to what makes a tape adhere: the backing material
and the adhesive. The adhesive in tapes is also a form of polymer. Unlike
glues, which are liquid and harden over time,
tape adhesives are solid and remain solid. When
pressure is applied to the tape, van der Waals
forces are at work and there is stickiness.
Tape adhesives are also distinct from glue
because a piece of tape can be removed. Some
tapes have strong adhesives that can hold a lot of
weight and withstand force. These tapes are
removable, but they can cause harm the surface
of the taped material. Packing tape, for example,
can hold a box together, but when it is peeled
away it also likely remove some of the cardboard.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

When glue is spread on a


surface it seeps into all the tiny
pores and cracks of the
material. I LL UST RA TIO N BY
TEM AH N EL SON .

Glue moves between the


bers, creating a strong bond.

21

Adhesives

WORDS TO KNOW
Adhesive: A substance that bonds or adheres two
substances together.
Control experiment: A setup that is identical to the
experiment, but is not affected by the variable
that acts on the experimental group.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement
that can be tested by observation and/or
experiment.
Polyvinyl acetate: A type of polymer that is the
main ingredient of white glues.

Polymer: Chemical compound formed of simple


molecules (known as monomers) linked with
themselves many times over.
Synthetic: Something that is made artificially, in a
laboratory or chemical plant, but is generally
not found in nature.
Variable: Something that can affect the results of
an experiment
Van der Waals force: An attractive force between
two molecules based on the positive and negative side of the molecule.

Other tapes were developed with light adhesives so they are easily
removed without harming the surface. Sticky notes are an example of this
type of adhesive. They stick where they are placed and can be removed
without a trace of the stickiness.
Adhesives are a wide and fascinating group of materials. What kind of
adhesives do you have questions about? You will have an opportunity to
explore both glues and tapes in the following two experiments.
Sticky notes use a light adhesive
so that the item they are
attached to is not damaged
when the note is removed. A P
P HOT O/ JI M MO NE.

EXPERIMENT 1
Material Adhesion: How do various glues
adhere to different materials?
Purpose/Hypothesis How glues adhere to mate-

rials depend upon both the properties of the glue


and the material. Metals, plastics, and wood each
have unique properties. Wood, for example, has
tiny pores that the glue moves into.
In this experiment, you will use three types of
glue: rubber cement, a white glue, and a super
glue. The materials you can glue together are
wood, plastic, and metal (aluminum foil). By
gluing each material to itself, you can determine what glues adhere to which materials.
22

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Adhesives

Do you think one glue will adhere to all the


materials?
To begin the experiment, use what you have
learned about adhesives and glue to make a guess
about what glue will adhere to what materials.
This educated guess, or prediction, is your
hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these
things:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the air temperature
the temperature of the glue
the material being glued
the amount of glue
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the bond
between the materials. If you change more than
one variable at a time, you will not be able to
determine which variable had the most effect
on whether the materials adhere to one
another.

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct.
Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: The super glue will adhere all materials to
one another; the white glue will only bond wood
together; and the rubber cement will not bond to any of the materials.
In this case, the variable you will change for each glue is the type of
materials being glued together. The variable you will measure is whether
there is a bond between the materials.

Step 5: Starting with the white


glue, use the cotton swabs to
spread the glue on the wood.
Press the wood together firmly
and note the time. IL LUS TR ATI ON B Y TE MA H NE LSO N.

Level of Difficulty Moderate. (This experiment

requires monitoring over several hours.)


Materials Needed

white glue, such as an all purpose school


glue or wood glue
rubber cement, acid-free, craft
cyanoacrylate glue, such as Superglue or
Krazy clue, select a glue that says it will
not bond to skin instantly
strips of wood, about 0.125 inch (0.32
centimeter) thick and 1 foot (30 centimeter) long (available at craft stores)
aluminum foil
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

23

Adhesives

How to Experiment Safely


Make sure you purchase the cyanoacrylate
glue that states it will not bind instantly to skin.
Although this type of cyanoacrylate glue will
not bind instantly, it can still bond to skin and
cause irritation. Have an adult help you wipe
the cyanoacrylate glue on the materials. Be
careful not to get the glue on your skin. If you
do so, immediately follow the instructions on
the glue.

2.
3.
4.
5.
Step 7: Repeat Steps 5 and 6,
using first the rubber cement
and then the cyanoacrylate
glue. I LL UST RA TI ON BY
T EM AH NE LS ON.

White
Glue
cyanoa

Rubber
Cement

24

cr yla

6.

plastic, from a container or bottle


scissors
cotton swabs
wax paper or paper towels

Approximate Budget $10.


Timetable 30 minutes to set-up; approximately

45 minutes to monitor results over at least a


12-hour period.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Break the long wood strip into six pieces,


each about 2 inches (5 centimeters) long.
Cut the plastic into six pieces, each about 2 inches long and
approximately matching the width of the wood strips.
Tear six pieces of aluminum foil, each about 2 inches long and
approximately matching the width of the wood strips.
Set all the materials on wax paper or paper towels to protect the
surface.
Starting with the white glue, use the cotton swabs to spread the glue
on the wood. Press the wood together firmly and note the time.
One by one, use the white glue to contine gluing a piece of each
material to every other material. You will have three test pieces for
each glue: wood to wood; plastic to plastic; and aluminum foil to
aluminum foil.
7. Repeat Steps 5 and 6, using first the
rubber cement and then the cyanoacrylate glue. See illustration.
8. Wait 15 minutes and test the adhesive
bond between the materials. Gently try
to move one of the pieces. Does one piece
of aluminum foil peel back? If one of the
pieces is not bonded, press the pieces back
together and set it down. If any of the
pieces are bonded, write down the results
in a chart and note the approximate time
it took.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Adhesives

9. Wait 15 minutes and test the adhesive


bond between the materials. Gently try
to move one of the pieces. Does one piece
of aluminum foil peel back? If one of the
pieces is not bonded, press the pieces back
together and set it down. If any of the
pieces are bonded, write down the results
in a chart and note the approximate time
it took.
10. Continue checking the adhesive bonds
between the materials every 30 minutes
over the next two to three hours. When
the materials are bonded together note
the time on a chart and you do not have
to test them anymore.
11. Allow the materials that have not bonded
to sit overnight or for a 12-hour period
before you test adhesion for the final
time.
Summary of Results Study the results of your

chart. Did one type of glue bond to all of the


materials? Was there a glue that only bonded
to one type of material? Consider how the
properties of plastic, wood, and aluminum
foil may have interacted with the glue. Write
a paragraph summarizing and explaining your
findings.

Troubleshooters Guide
Its common for experiments to not work
exactly as planned but it can often offer a
learning experience. Below are some problems
that may arise during this experiment, some
possible causes, and ways to remedy the
problems.
Problem: The wood pieces did not bond to
anything.
Possible causes: The pieces may have needed
more pressure when forming a bond. Try
gluing two wooden pieces together and use
a weight to press them together. You can
use a heavy book or pot. Place a strip of wax
paper between the pieces and the weight so
as not to get any glue on the heavy item.
Problem: The foil and plastic keep slipping apart
when I test them.
Possible causes: You may have applied too
much glue to the surface and peeling them
apart causes them to slip. Try it again, applying
less glue. Once you know the general amount
of time it takes for the materials to set, wait
until that time period before you test the bond.

Change the Variables There are several ways you can change the
variables in this experiment. One way is by focusing on one glue
type. Rubber cement, for example, is available in several types and
can be applied in different ways. Wiping the adhesive to each side of
the material and pressing the materials together can give a stronger
bond. You can test this bond on all the materials. You can also focus
on one type of material. There are many kinds of woods, plastics, and
metals. Can the white glue bond certain woods together but not
others?
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

25

Adhesives

EXPERIMENT 2
What Are the Variables?
Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the environmental conditions

Adhesives in the Environment: Will


different environmental conditions
affect the properties of different
adhesives?
Purpose/Hypothesis There are adhesives devel-

oped for strength and others that are meant to


have a weak adhesive. Sticky notes, for example,
was a completely new type of adhesive when it
the type of paper
was developed in the 1960s. The removable
the material the adhesive is stuck to
paper will adhere where it is placed and is easily
the age of the adhesive
removed. Tape made for painting is another
the strength of the fan
adhesive that can be removed without a trace.
the type of paper bag
All adhesives are designed to work in certain
the type of bottle used to test strength
environmental conditions.
This experiment explores how temperature
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the adhesion. If
and the environment affect adhesives. You will
you change more than one variable at the same
use two types of adhesives: the low-strength
time, you will not be able to tell which variable
sticky note, and a tape with a strong adhesive.
had the most effect on the adhesive properties.
You will expose each adhesives to a cold, hot, and
humid environment. By comparing how the
adhesive sticks both before and after each environmental change, you
can measure how the environment affects the properties of each adhesive.
Before you begin, make an educated guess about the outcome of this
experiment based on your knowledge of adhesives and the environmental
conditions. This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A
hypothesis should explain these things:
the amount of time in each environmental condition

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through further investigation. Your experiment
will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one
possible hypothesis for this experiment: The cold and heat will change
the adhesive properties of the low-adhesive material but not the tape with
the strong adhesive.
26

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Adhesives

White
Glue

Rubber
Cement

cyanoacryla

te
Materials needed.
IL LU STR AT IO N BY T EM AH
NE LS ON.

In this case, the variable you will change is the environmental conditions for each adhesive, one at a time. The variable you will measure is
the adhesion properties, as compared to the unchanged adhesive material.
Level of Difficulty Moderate (there are a lot of steps to this experiment; to

simplify, you can test adhesive strength for only hot and cold conditions,
leaving out the humidity).
Materials Needed

sticky notes
tape with a strong adhesive, such as Duct, packing, or masking
tape
paper
fan
3 blocks of wood, the same type of wood
clamp
3 small paper bags (lunch bags work well)
2-liter plastic bottle
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

27

Adhesives

How to Experiment Safely


Be careful when working with the heat lamp
after it has been turned on and use caution with
the boiling water. Part of this experiment can be
messy. If you have a workbench or other
movable bench you may want to clamp the
block of wood outside.

funnel
heat lamp, or a warm, sunny day
large container or garbage can
freezer
scissors
tall pot, such as a soup pot
chest grater, strainer, or other metal item
with holes in it that can sit on the top of
the pot

Timetable 1 to 2 hours working time; approximately 3 hours total time.


Step-by-Step Instructions Testing adhesive strength under normal envi-

ronmental conditions.

Steps 2 and 3: Stick one note on


a piece of paper and place the
paper directly in front of the
fan. Turn the fan on to the
highest setting and hold the
paper for 30 seconds.
I LLU ST RAT IO N BY T EM AH
NEL SO N.

28

1. Sticky note: Stick one note on a piece of paper and place the paper
directly in front of the fan. Use the tape measure to measure how
far the paper is from the fan.
2. Turn the fan on to the highest setting and hold the paper for 30
seconds and turn off the fan.
3. If the sticky adhesive did not hold the note in place during the 30
seconds, move the paper 1 to 2 inches (25 centimeter) farther away
from the fan. Sticky on a fresh sticky note, turn the fan on and
repeat. Continue moving the paper back until the sticky note does
not blow away. If the sticky does not blow away, move the paper 1
to 2 inches closer to the fan. Continue moving the paper forward
until the sticky cannot move any more before it blows away.
4. When you have the distance that the sticky
adhesive keeps the note on the paper, note
distance on a chart.
5. Tape: Tape the paper bag to the bottom
half of the piece of wood. Note the size
and direction you tape the bag.
6. Clamp the piece of wood to a work
bench, chair, or other sturdy item. Make
sure the clamp is not touching the bag.
7. Set the empty bottle inside the bag. The
bottle should be slightly higher than the
bag. You may need to cut the top of the
bag with the scissors.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Adhesives

8. If you are working inside, set a large


container or garbage can underneath the
bag/bottle. Place the funnel in the bottle.
9. Carefully add cup (about 2 ounces) of
water to the bottle, being careful not to
drip any water on the bag. Continue adding water in cup increments, remembering to note how much water you are
adding. When the tape can no longer
support the bottle, write down the
amount of weight the tape held.
Setup for adhesive strength under warm
environmental conditions.
1. Place a new sticky note on a fresh piece of
paper.
2. Tape a new paper bag to the wood block
in the same direction and using the same length of tape as the
normal environmental trial.
3. If it is a hot day outside and the sun is out, place both the paper
and wood (with the attached bag) out in the sun. If you are
working indoors, place both items under the heat lamp.
Setup for adhesive strength under cold environmental conditions.
Place a new sticky note on a fresh piece of paper.
Tape a new paper bag to a wood block in the same direction and
using the same length of tape as the normal environmental trial.
Place both items in the freezer.

Steps 59: Tape a paper bag to


the bottom half of the piece of
wood and clamp the piece of
wood to a chair. Set the empty
bottle inside the bag and insert
the funnel. Add cup (about 2
ounces) of water to the bottle.
I LL US TRA TI ON BY TE MAH
N EL SON .

Setup for adhesive strength under humid environmental conditions.


1. Place a new sticky note on a fresh piece of paper.
2. Tape a new paper bag to a wood block in the same direction and
using the same length of tape as the normal environmental trial.
3. Fill the pot about a quarter way with water and bring to a boil.
4. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool for one to two
minutes. Carefully set the cheese grater (or other item) on top of
the pot.
5. Place the paper with the sticky and the wood block with the bag on
top of the grater with the tape facing upwards.
Testing adhesive strength.
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Adhesives

Troubleshooters Guide
Here are some problems that may arise during
this experiment, some possible causes, and
ways to remedy the problems.
Problem: The bag keeps breaking when the
water is poured in.
Possible cause: The funnel might be too narrow
and you may be dripping water onto the bag,
which would weaken the bag. Have a helper
hold the funnel upright while you carefully
pour. You may also need a larger funnel. Repeat
the tests.
Problem: The tape and sticky completely peeled
off when it was placed above the hot water.
Possible causes: There may have been too
much steam. Try it again, allowing the pot to
cool another couple minutes before placing the
adhesives over the pot.

Wait approximately three hours.


Sticky note: Hold the paper with the
sticky that was under the hot environmental conditions in front of the fan.
Use your chart and tape measure to determine where the paper should be (it
should be the same distance as it was in
the normal environmental conditions).
Again, turn the fan on the highest setting
for 30 seconds and note if the sticky
adhesive holds.
Repeat this step with the sticky note that
was undergoing cold conditions and then
the humid conditions.
Tape: Use your chart to determine how
much weight the tape should hold.
Repeat the setup in Steps 7 and 8 for
each block of wood, carefully pouring in
the water.
After testing the adhesives that underwent
hot, cold, and humid conditions, note the
results on a chart.

Summary of Results Examine your data and compare the results of the

tests with your hypothesis. Did your hypothesis prove true? How did the
adhesive undergoing each of the different environmental conditions
compare to the normal condition? Was there one environment that
affected the adhesive the most? Compare each of the two adhesives against
one another. Consider why it might be important for different adhesives
to withstand certain types of environments. You may want to write a
summary of your results.
Change the Variables Variables you can change in this experiment

include:
Changing the type of adhesives to determine if there are patterns
to environmental conditions and the strength of the tape.
Change the material the adhesive adheres to.
Focus on one environmental condition and measure at what point
the environment breaks down the adhesive.
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Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept You make use of adhesives

every day. Think about what interests you about adhesion and what
questions you have. Do you want to know about how the materials
play a role in adhesion? Or how synthetic glues differ from natural
glues? Make a list of all the types of adhesives and where they are applied.
Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science teacher
to learn more about adhesives. Because adhesives are so diverse, there are
many different types of scientists who work with them. Ask family,
teachers, and friends if they know someone who works a lot with adhesives.
It could be a carpenter or researcher.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original experiment, you need to

plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not be
sure what question you are answering, what you are or should be measuring, or what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State your hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to your
question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results Your data should include
charts and graphs such as the one you did for these experiments. They
should be clearly labeled and easy to read. You may also want to include
photographs and drawings of your experimental setup and results, which
will help other people visualize the steps in the experiment.
If you are preparing an exhibit, you may want to display your results,
such as any experimental setup you designed. If you have completed a
nonexperimental project, explain clearly what your research question was
and illustrate your findings.
Related Projects You can use the materials around you to think of

projects related to adhesives. They are in furniture, school supplies, and


many products that you purchase. You could examine how adhesives play
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

31

Adhesives

a role in everyday products. If you are interested in natural adhesives, you


can make your own and test the adhesives against commercial brands.
Consider the adhesive properties of tape. Sticky notes and envelopes,
for example, make use of adhesives. What makes their adhesive properties
unique and why are they important? How does waterproofing play a role
in choosing the right adhesive? You could also experiment with what
materials can remove adhesives.

For More Information


Roach, John. Gecko, Mussel Powers Combined in New Sticky Adhesive.
National Geographic News. July 18, 2007, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/
news/2007/07/070718 geckel glue.html (accessed on April 1, 2008).
This to That. http://www.thistothat.com (accessed on April 1, 2008).
Suggestions on what glue to use to adhere one material to another, along with
trivia facts and glue news briefs.
Fix It Club. Glues. HowStuffWorks. http://home.howstuffworks.com/glues.htm
(accessed on April 1, 2008). Explanation of how different types of glues adhere.
VanCleave, Janice. Janice VanCleaves 204 Sticky, Gloppy, Wacky and Wonderful
Experiments. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley, 2002.
Weiss, Malcolm E. Why glass breaks, rubber bends, and glue sticks: how everyday
materials work. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977.

32

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Air

ven though you cannot feel it, see it, or smell it, air surrounds you and
extends far upward for miles. Air is a mixture of gases, mainly nitrogen
and oxygen, with about four times as much nitrogen as oxygen. With few
exceptions, all living things on Earth need air to survive. It is what makes
all flight possible, from airplanes to birds. It allows fuels to burn and it
shields Earth from the suns harmful rays. Air is also what gives us our
weather patterns. Airs temperature, pressure, density, and volume all
create the weather.
Surrounded by air All the air that covers Earth is called the atmosphere. Earths gravity holds the atmosphere in place around our planet.
The atmosphere is a blanket of air over 600 miles (1,000 kilometers)
high. Scientists have divided the atmosphere into five layers, according to
differences in the temperature of the air. The layer closest to Earth is
called the troposphere. The troposphere extends about 9 miles upward
(15 kilometers). It contains almost all of what makes up Earths weather,
including clouds, rain, and snow.
Like any gas, air has pressure, mass, and a temperature. Air is composed of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% argon, and the remaining 0.1%
a handful of other gases, including carbon dioxide. The molecules in airs
gases are constantly flying around at high speeds. This air can feel completely still because there are billions of individual molecules zipping in all
directions. When the molecules travel in one direction, it results in wind.

Oh, the pressure Winds begin with differences in air pressure. Air
always moves from areas of high pressure to low pressure. The greater the
difference in pressures, the stronger the winds force.
Airs pressure is caused by the weight of the air in Earths atmosphere
pushing down on the air below. Air in the troposphere has the highest
pressure of all the layers. The air at the top of the atmosphere has little
weight above it to push it down, so its pressure is less. The air at the
33

Air

Air Composition

78%
Nitrogen

bottom of the atmosphere is being pushed down


by the hundreds of miles of air above it. This
results in air low to the ground having more
pressure than air high in the atmosphere. The
air pressing down on you weighs about 1 ton
(0.9 metric ton). You cannot feel this pressure
because you are supported by equal air pressure
on all sides, and your body is filled with gases
and liquid that push back with equal pressure.

21%
Oxygen

Meteorologists, or people who study


weather, measure air pressure with a barometer.
Changes in the air pressure or barometric pressure occur during changes in the weather. The
mercury barometer uses the heavy liquid metal
.9% Argon
mercury, which is about 14 times heavier or
.1% other gases
denser than water. An empty glass tube with
the upper end closed is inserted into a dish of
mercury. The height of the column of mercury
The air on Earth is composed of
in the glass tube is controlled by the air pressing down on the mercury in
several different gases. G AL E
GRO UP.
the dish. Normal air pressure lifts the mercury to a height of about 30
inches (760 millimeters). When air pressure falls, the air does not push on
the mercury in the dish as much, and the column of mercury falls. When
air pressure increases, the column of mercury will rise. In general, falling
air pressure means that clouds and rains or snow are likely. Rising air
pressure signals that clear weather is likely.
In the mid 1600s Italian mathematician Evangelista Torricelli
(160847) designed the first barometer to prove that air had weight
and pressure. Then in 1648 French philosopher and mathematician
Blaise Pascal (163262) hypothesized that air pressure decreased with
altitude. He sent his brother-in-law up to the peak of a mountain in
France with a barometer. The column of mercury dropped lower and
lower the higher he went. Today, the international unit of pressure is
called the Pascal, in his honor.
Changing densities Quick changes in the weather are caused by
movements of large bodies of air called air masses. Air masses usually
cover very large areas. All the air in an air mass has nearly the same
properties. When two air masses that have different densities meet, they
mix slowly and form an area between them called a front.
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The density of an air mass is related to its


pressure and temperature. Air density is the
amount of matter or mass in a specific volume.
Increasing the temperature of a gas pushes its
molecules farther apart. When the sun heats up
the air, the space between the molecules
increases and the hot air expands. The air
becomes less dense and has less pressure. When
the temperature of air decreases its molecules
move closer together and the air contracts. The
air becomes more dense and has greater pressure.

600 miles

increasing
air pressure

There are three main types of fronts: cold


fronts, warm fronts, and occluded fronts. A cold
front forms when a cold air mass meets and
pushes under a warm air mass. Violent storms
are associated with a cold front. Fair, cool weather usually follows. A
warm front forms when a mass of warm air moves into a cold air mass.
Rain and showers usually accompany a warm front. Hot, humid weather
usually follows. An occluded front happens when a cold front catches up
and merges with a warm front. An occluded front often brings heavy rain.

Troposphere

Air presses down from the


upper atmosphere, causing
more pressure in the layer
closest to Earth, the
troposphere. GA LE G ROU P.

The closer air lies to the surface of Earth, the denser it is because there are
more molecules of air compressed into a smaller volume. The troposphere

Warm Air
Mass
Cold Air
Mass
A cold front occurs when a cold
air mass meets and pushes
under a warm air mass. GA LE
GR OU P.

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Air

When mountain climbers trek


up high mountains, they often
bring tanks of oxygen with
them because the air contains
less oxygen for them to breathe.

layer is so compressed that it contains about 80%


of the air found in the entire atmosphere by mass.
The higher up in the atmosphere someone goes,
the less dense the air. When mountain climbers
trek up high mountains, they often need to bring
tanks of oxygen with them because the air is less
dense and contains less oxygen for them to breathe.
The up-and-down movement of air due
to different densities is called convection currents. When the air becomes less dense it rises
upward through the denser, cool air above it. As
this warm air moves through the cold air it cools
off, becomes more dense again, and eventually
sinks back to the bottom.

EXPERIMENT 1

AP/ WI DE W OR LD P HOT OS.

The up-and-down movement of


air due to different densities is
called convection currents.

Air Density: Does warm air take up less room


than cool air?
Purpose/Hypothesis Density is the mass of anything divided by the

volume it occupies. As the temperature of a given mass of air increases,


its volume expands and the air gets less dense as
a resultsame mass, but larger volume, means
o
less dense. As the temperature of a given mass
o
l
c
s
air
of air decreases, its volume contracts and the air
gets more dense. In this experiment, you will
examine the density of air by causing a mass of
air in a closed container to become both more
warm
cool
and less dense by changing the temperature. To
light air
dense
see these changes you will place a balloon over
rises
air sinks
the open end of a bottle. When the trapped air
expands, the balloon should get bigger; when
the air contracts, the balloon should get
smaller.
Before you begin, make an educated guess
air warms up
about the outcome of this experiment based on
your knowledge of air density. This educated
heat source
guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A
hypothesis should explain these things:
GAL E GR OU P.

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Air

WORDS TO KNOW
Air: Gaseous mixture that covers Earth, composed
mainly of nitrogen (about 78%) and oxygen
(about 21%) with lesser amounts of argon,
carbon dioxide, and other gases.
Air density: The ratio of the mass of a substance to
the volume it occupies.
Air mass: A large body of air that has similar
characteristics.
Air pressure: The force exerted by the weight of
the atmosphere above a point on or above
Earths surface.

the variable that acts on the experimental


group.
Convection currents: Circular movement of a gas in
response to alternating heating and cooling.
Front: The area between air masses of different
temperatures or densities.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that
can be tested by observation and/or experiment.

Atmosphere: Layers of air that surround Earth.

Meteorologists: Professionals who study Earths


atmosphere and its phenomena, including
weather and weather forecasting.

Barometer: An instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure, used especially in weather


forecasting.

Troposphere: The lowest layer of Earths atmosphere, ranging to an altitude of about 9 miles
(15 km) above Earths surface.

Control experiment: A setup that is identical


to the experiment, but is not affected by

Variable: Something that can affect the results of an


experiment.

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be
something you can test through further investigation. Your experiment
will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one
possible hypothesis for this experiment: As the air gets warmer and less
dense it will cause the the balloon to get larger; as the air gets cooler and
less dense it will cause the balloon to get smaller.
In this case, the variable you will change is the temperature of the air
inside the bottle by warming and cooling the outside of the bottle. The
variable you will measure is the balloons circumference.
Conducting a control experiment will help you isolate each variable
and measure the changes in the dependent variable. Only one variable will
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37

Air

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
thickness of the plastic bottles

change between the control and the experimental


trials. Your control experiment will not heat or
cool the air in the bottles.
Level of Difficulty Easy.
Materials Needed

2 rubber balloons
ice
hot water
2 plastic bottles, such as plastic soda
bottles
2 containers that go at least midway up
the sides of the bottles (one should be
heatproof)

material the balloons are made from


In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the density of
the air. If you change more than one variable at
the same time, you will not be able to tell which
variable had the most effect on air density.

Approximate Budget $2.


Steps 3 and 4: Heat causes the
air in the bottle to warm; ice
causes the air in the bottle to
cool. GA LE GRO UP.

Timetable 15 minutes.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Place a balloon over the mouth of each


plastic bottle. Leave one bottle out as
your control.
2. Fill up one container with very hot water.
Fill up the other container with a little ice
and some cold water.
3. Place the experimental bottle in the container of cold water and hold it there for
roughly one minute. (Another option is
to place the bottle in a freezer for one
minute.) Note the size of the balloon
compared to the control balloon.
4. Place the experimental bottle in the container of hot water for one minute. (Another
option is to carefully hold the bottle under
running hot tap water.) Note the size of the
balloon compared to the control balloon.
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Air

5. Again, place the experimental bottle in


the pan of cold water and hold for 30
seconds.
Summary of Results Examine how much the

How to Experiment Safely


Have an adult present when working with the
hot water.

balloon grew or shrunk in your experiment.


Was your hypothesis correct? How did the size
of the experimental balloon compare to the control balloon? Did the
experimental balloon shrink more or at a different rate the second time
you placed it in the cold water? Draw a picture of the results of your
experiment and write a brief summary.

EXPERIMENT 2
Convection Currents: How can rising air cause
weather changes?
Purpose/Hypothesis Convection currents occur as rising gas carries heat

upward and the cooler gas is brought downward. In the atmosphere,


convection currents rise above warm areas on Earths surface. These rising
air currents produce differences in air pressure, which cause changes
in the weather. Small convection currents can produce winds and
rain. Larger convection currents can cause severe thunderstorms and
hurricanes.
When convection occurs in an enclosed container, the currents help distribute the heat
Troubleshooters Guide
throughout the container. The entire process is
Below is a problem that may arise during this
driven by the differences in air density. In this
experiment, some possible causes, and some
experiment, you will create a convection current
ways to remedy the problems.
in a closed container and look at the airs actions.
Problem: Nothing happened to the balloon.
You will cool the air in one glass jar and warm the
Possible cause: Your water may not have been
air in another. Visible smoke from an incense
hot or cold enough. You may also not given
stick will go into the warm jar. Then you will
enough time to allow the air temperature to
observe what occurs to the movements of the
change. Try the experiment again, placing
smoke.
your bottles deeper into the hot and cold
Before you begin, make an educated guess
water.
about the outcome of this experiment based on
Possible cause: Your balloon may have a slight
your knowledge of air convection. This educated
leak. Try the experiment again with a new
balloon.
guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A
hypothesis should explain these things:
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

39

Air

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
The amount of smoke
through further investigation. Your experiment
The temperature of the warm air
will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is
The temperature of the cold air
correct. Here is one possible hypothesis for this
experiment: Air in the warmer container will
In other words, the variables in this experiment
rise, pushing the cold air above it downward, and
are everything that might affect the movement
of the smoke. If you change more than one
creating movement of the smoke.
variable at the same time, you will not be able to
In this case, the variable you will change is
tell which variable had the most effect on the
the temperature of the air in the glass jar. The
convection currents.
variable you will measure is the visible movement of the smoke.
Conducting a control experiment will help
you isolate each variable and measure the changes in the dependent
variable. Only one variable will change between the control and the
experimental trial. Your control experiment will use jars that have not
been heated or cooled.
Level of Difficulty Easy/Moderate (the experiment is simple, but working

with burning incense increases the difficulty level).


Materials Needed

four glass jars of equal size with equal-sized openings (mayonnaise


jars work well; you do not need the lids)
incense stick (do not use smokeless incense)
matches
small piece of thick paper (big enough to cover the opening of the
jars)
lamp with at least a 100-watt bulb
black piece of paper or cardstock about the size of the jars
access to freezer or cold-water bath
Approximate Budget $5.
Timetable 20 minutes.
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Air

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Place one jar in the freezer or cold-water


How to Experiment Safely
bath for about five minutes.
Ask an adult for help with lighting the match.
2. While the first jar is cooling, run hot
Make sure an adult is present when you burn
water over the outside of the second jar.
the incense. Always wet the match and any
3. When about three minutes have passed,
leftover incense before you throw them away.
turn on the lamp and position the warm
jar upside down in front it. Fold the black
paper in half and lean it closely against the side of the jar opposite
the lamp to help heat the air.
4. After five minutes, take the jar out of the freezer or cold-water bath
and have the small piece of thick paper nearby. (You may need to
wipe off the outside of the jar so that you can see inside it.)
5. Light the stick of incense, lift up the warm jar (with the opening
still facing downward), and hold the burning incense underneath
the opening of the warm jar. The incense stick should give off
Step 6: Turn the warm jar right
black smoke. Blow out the incense stick and capture any remainside up while you hold the thick
paper in place. Turn the cold
ing black smoke inside the warm jar.
jar upside down and set it
6. Quickly place the small piece of thick paper firmly over the
directly on top of the warm jar
opening in the warm jar to hold the smoke inside. Turn the
so their openings line up exactly
warm jar right side up while you hold the thick paper in place.
and the thick piece of paper is
Turn the cold jar upside down and set it directly on top of the
between them. GA LE G RO UP.
warm jar so their openings line up exactly
and the thick piece of paper is between
them.
7. Lift the cold jar slightly and pull the
paper out from between the jars. Observe
what happens to the smoke.
8. For the control experiment, repeat Steps
5 through 7 with two room-temperature
glass jars. Note the results.
Summary of Results Was your hypothesis correct? Compare the results between the movement in the air of the control jars and the cold
and warm jars. Use arrows to draw what was
happening to both the cold and warm air in the
jars. What do you hypothesize would occur if the
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41

Air

Troubleshooters Guide
Below is a problem that may arise during this
experiment, a possible cause, and a way to
remedy the problem.

cold jar was placed on the bottom and the warm


jar was placed on top of it. Write a brief description of how air of different temperatures causes
weather change.
Modify the Experiment You can experiment

with convection currents in air without matches


in a simple test that illustrates the principles
Possible cause: You may have used a smokeless
behind hot air balloons. You will need at least
incense stick. Try purchasing another type
two black balloons, string, and a hot, sunny day.
and repeating the experiment.
Blow up both balloons about half way. Knot the
balloons and tie a piece of string about 4 feet (1.2
meters) long to the knot. Place one balloon in a basement or air conditioned room where the air is cool. Place the second balloon outside in
the sun and tie the string to something on the ground. Make a note
whether both balloons lie on the ground. Leave the balloons alone for
several hours.
Look at the balloon outside. Is it still on the ground? It will rise if the
air inside the balloon is lighter than the surrounding air. Untie the outside
balloon and place it next to the balloon that is sitting in the cool room.
What happens? Does the balloon with the warmer air rise? Observe the
two balloons for several minutes, as the hot air balloon cools. You can try
the experiment again with varying size balloons or at higher outside
temperatures.
Problem: No black smoke was visible.

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept Whenever you step

outside you are feeling the effects of airs properties and movement.
Consider what types of weather-related topics are of interest to you.
Watch the weather forecast carefully and write down what terms and
pictures look interesting to you.
Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science
teacher to learn more about air properties and weather. As you consider
possible experiments, make sure to discuss them with your science teacher
or another adult before trying them.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original experiment, you need to

plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not be
42

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Air

sure what question you are answering, what you


are or should be measuring, or what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an
experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying
question behindthe experiment you
propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved and
select one that will help you answer the
question at hand.
State your hypothesis, an educated guess
about the answer to your question.
Decide how to change the variable you
selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results In

any experiment you conduct, you should look


for ways to clearly convey your data. You can do
this by including charts and graphs for the
experiments. They should be clearly labeled
and easy to read. You may also want to include
photographs and drawings of your experimental setup and results, which
will help others visualize the steps in the experiment. You might decide to
conduct an experiment that lasts several months. In this case, include
pictures or drawings of the results taken at regular intervals.
If you are preparing an exhibit, you may want to display your results,
such as any experimental setup you designed. If you have completed a
nonexperimental project, explain clearly what your research question was
and illustrate your findings.

The less-dense hot air in a hot


air balloon allows it to rise high
above the ground. # DU OM O/
COR BI S.

Related Projects There are many related projects you can undertake

related to air and the weather. Because air is not visible to the naked
eye, there are instruments that enable people to see how the air reacts.
To explore air temperature, you could make a radiometer, an instrument
that uses reflection and absorption to measure the suns rays. A radiometer will allow you to see how the suns energy causes the warm air to
move. You could also make a barometer to measure air pressure. By
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

43

Air

watching changes in the barometer, you can observe how varying air
pressures result in changes in the weather.
To further explore convection, you can make a convection box as
another way to see how air currents with clashing temperatures act. The
cyclical process of convection currents also occurs in liquids, which follow
the same density rules as gases. Warm water, less dense than cold water,
rises to the surface as the cooler water sinks to the bottom. The results
cause currents in the water. You can examine convection currents in
bodies of water by adding drops of different food colorings to the hot
and cold water.

For More Information


Atmospheric science resources. USA Today. December 19, 2001. http://
www.usatoday.com/weather/wworks0.htm#pressure (accessed February 26,
2008). Graphics and clear text that explains various weather phenomena.
Elsom, Derek. Weather Explained. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997.
From basic weather and air questions to weather extremes, this book answers
how weather forms, with lots of colorful pictures.
Met Office. Secondary Students. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/education/
secondary/students/index.html (accessed February 26, 2008). Information
on weather topics, including air masses and fronts.
Wright, David. How Much Does the Sky Weigh? Chain Reaction. http://
chainreaction.asu.edu/weather/digin/wright.htm (accessed February 26,
2008). Article on air and its pressure with ideas for experiments.

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ir or water that is contaminated with impurities is described as


polluted. The contamination is the pollution. Directly or indirectly,
the overwhelming majority of pollution results from human activity, yet
nature can also release pollutants. Pollution usually is in the form of gas,
liquid, and solid materials; it results from anything that alters the natural
environment, such as a temperature shift and noise. Air and water
pollution has become a significant problem since the growth of cities,
industry, and travel in the late nineteenth century.
All life on Earth depends on air and water to live and grow. Pollution
of these substances harms and destroys plants, animals, and microscopic
organisms. It causes health problems and death in humans. Pollution
upsets the natural cycles on which all life depends, causing a ripple effect
that can harm organisms hundreds of miles away from the pollutant. For
example, pollutants in a body of water can harm the sea life and poison
the plants that depend on the water. In turn, surrounding animals that
depend on the plants for food and shelter, such as birds, will need to
either move to another location or die. Water and air pollution also
destroy Earths natural beauty.

What you cant see . . . Air is essential for life on Earth. It provides
oxygen for animals and carbon dioxide for plants. It encircles Earth to
form its atmosphere, protecting the planet against harmful rays and
causing its weather. Air pollution comes in the form of gasessuch as
nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxideas well as solid
and liquid particles called particulate matter. Measuring about 0.0001
inch (0.0025 millimeters, also called 2.5 microns) in diameter, particulate
matter is small enough to be suspended, or float, in the air.
There are several major categories of air pollution produced by
humans. Pollutants include the gases nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide,
and carbon monoxide, along with lead pollution and particulate matter.
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Air and Water Pollution

Gases: In most industrial nations the majority of air pollution comes from the automobile.
The exhaust in cars and trucks releases carbon
monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and
clean water allows
sulfur dioxide. Automobiles, especially diesel
fish to thrive
animals have adequate
vehicles, also release smoke particles. The burning
food supply
of fossil fuelssuch as gas, oil, and coalis also a
major source of air pollution. Power plants that
burn coal and oil release nitrogen oxides, sulfur
oxides, carbon dioxide, and particles. Various
industrial processes also produce large amounts
Clean air and water support a
of these pollutants.
healthy life cycle for all
Scientists generally agree that the greenhouse effect, also called global
organisms. GA LE GRO UP.
warming, comes from the buildup of carbon dioxide, methane, and other
gases in the atmosphere. The increased levels of carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gases trap heat close to Earth, resulting in an overall increase
in temperature. This warmer climate could produce extreme weather
events, such as droughts and floods, raise the sea level, and alter the life
populations.
Another planetwide effect of air pollution is the breakdown of the
layer of air in Earths upper atmosphere. The upper atmosphere protects
people and animals from dangerous ultraviolet rays produced by the Sun.
In humans, exposure to ultraviolet rays is linked to skin cancer and harm
to the immune system. Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases are one of the
main pollutants that bore holes in Earths upper atmosphere.
Air and water pollutants can
Lead: Lead is a toxic or lethal metal that was once a common
affect a wide variety of
component of gasoline, paints, and various industrial processes.
surrounding life. GA LE
Unleaded gasoline and paint, along with improvements in industrial
GR OU P.
processes, have brought about a decrease in the
release of lead in the air. Especially harmful to
young children, lead can slow down mental
air pollutants
oil
development, and can harm the kidneys, liver,
nervous system, and other organs.
chemicals,
heat, metals
Particulates: Particulate matter varies in size.
No food supply
for animals
Larger particles settle near their source after a few
Fish can't live in this water
minutes in the air; small particles can remain in
the air for several days and spread over a wide
area. Particles that are especially small can cause
health problems in humans and animals.
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sunlight enters atmosphere,


heating the Earth
greenhouse gases
cause some of the
heat to be trapped

carbon dioxide
an
d

ot
h
er

heat is reflected back


into the atmosphere
Carbon dioxide and other gases
trap heat close to Earth, causing
a warming in Earths climate.
GA LE G RO UP.

Particles enter the respiratory system and penetrate deeply into


the lungs. Brief exposure can result in symptoms ranging from
coughing to a sore throat. Long-term exposure can cause asthma
In a thermal inversion, a layer
and congestion.
of warm air traps the cool air
Suspended particles in the atmosphere are seen as dust, smoke, soot,
close to Earth. When this
and haze. These particles can also cause smog. Smog is a type of large-scale
happens the polluted air cannot
rise and disperse into the
outdoor pollution caused by reactions between strong sunlight and differatmosphere, causing pollution
ent pollutants, primarily automobile exhaust and
to build up to dangerous levels.
industrial emissions. Smog appears as a haze over
GAL E GR OU P.
wide areas.
Smog often worsens in warm temperatures
when a thermal inversion can occur. In a thermal
inversion, a layer of warm air traps the cool air
warm air
close to Earth. When this happens the polluted air
cannot rise and disperse into the atmosphere. The
cooler polluted air
pollution can build up to dangerous levels. In
1952, thermal inversion caused a London smog
that killed over four thousand people. In the
United States, Los Angeles, California, is the
city most profoundly affected by smog, according
to a 2009 American Lung Association report.
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Pollutants from nature Air inside homes


can also become polluted. Trapped in an
enclosed area, indoor pollution can cause people serious health problems because of the large
amount of time people spend indoors. Cigarette smoke, cooking and heating appliances,
paints, and some cleaning products are all possible sources of indoor pollution. Radon, an
odorless natural gas released from the ground,
is another possible pollutant. Radon can enter
buildings through cracks and can seep into
basements of homes. Lung cancer is one health
effect of radon.
Radon is an example of a natural pollutant.
Other types of naturally occurring pollutants
include erupting volcanoes, which produce
large amounts of sulfur oxides and particulate
matter. Some microorganisms that break down
plant material also release methane gas, a contributor to the greenhouse effect. Among the
places these microorganisms live is in cows
stomachs to help with their digestion. When
the cows belch, methane gas gets released.
Smog appears as a haze over
large areas. Here, the skyline of
New York City is wrapped in a
veil of smog. NA TIO NA L
AR CH IVE S AN D RE CO RD S
ADM IN IS TRA TI ON.

Sickly water About 70% of Earth is covered by the ocean, which makes up almost all the water on the planet.
All life on Earth needs water to survive. Oceans, rivers, lakes, and other
bodies of water hold a rich diversity of animal, plant, and microscopic
life that organisms in both the water and on land depend upon to live.
Oil, pesticides, fertilizers, litter, wastes, heat, and toxic chemicals are
several major sources of water pollution. Polluted water kills sea life
and causes disease in humans.
Oils: While oil spills from cargo ships make headline news,
these accidents make up only a fraction of the oil released into
the oceans. The majority of oil in North American waters comes
from industry and road runoff, along with boating. Other sources of
oil pollution include drilling, shipping, and improper disposal of oil
waste. Oils are also released naturally from eroding rocks at the
bottom of the ocean.

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The impact of oil on marine life depends


upon the amount of oil, where it is located, and
the amount of toxic chemicals in the oil. Oils
spills form a visible film on the water called an
oil slick. Oil in a slick sticks to birds, fish, and
plants, blocking their breathing and possibly
causing death. The reduced food supply can
have a long-term impact for whole ecosystems.
Oils also wash up on beaches and other human
recreational areas. Researchers are working to
discover how the steady, relatively small release
of oil affects ocean and human life.
Chemicals: Chemical water pollutants are
substances not naturally occurring in the waters.
Industrial compounds, such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides, along with herbicides and pesticides
are common chemicals released into the waters.
Rainwater can carry chemicals from the land
into waterways. Heavy metals, such as copper,
lead, and mercury, enter the water from industries, automobile exhaust,
mines, and even natural soil.
Heat: When hot water is poured into a cooler body of water it is
called thermal pollution. All life forms have a range of temperature in
which they can live. If the water temperature is outside of that range it will
upset and kill organisms. Thermal pollution is common near factories
and power plants, where water is heated to high temperatures. Although
the water is cooled before it is added to natural bodies of water, it often
remains hotter than the natural water. Thermal pollution is also caused by
the removal of trees and vegetation that shade bodies of waters.

An oil-soaked bird washes up


on a beach in northern Spain in
November 2002, after a tanker
leaked 3,000 tons of oil off the
western coast of Spain before
eventually sinking. A P/W ID E
WOR LD

Natural substances: Upsetting the balance of nutrients can also


pollute the waters in a process called eutrophication. Nitrates and phosphates are natural nutrients that plants such as algae use for growth.
Fertilizers and untreated sewage can contain many of these nutrients.
Rain washes the nutrients into bodies of water where they accumulate and
stimulate algae growth. The algae grow more rapidly than fish can eat
them, causing two major effects. When the algae die it causes decomposing organisms to thrive, depleting the water of oxygen. The lack of oxygen
causes fish and surrounding plants to die. Also, the abundance of algae
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sunlight passes
through water

plants produce oxygen


that sea life need to live

sunlight cannot pass


through water

overgrowth of algae
causes depletion of
oxygen

clog the waters and block sunlight for the plants


underneath. These plants, which provide food
and shelter for sea life, then die.
Solid matter: Along with blemishing
waters natural beauty, litter can significantly
harm sea life. Litter is often made of plastic,
which takes hundreds of years to break down.
Birds and fishes can mistake such litter for food.
When enough litter is consumed, the animals
intestines become blocked and it dies. Plastic
bags can also suffocate small sea life. Plastic fishing lines and other debris can entangle seabirds
and other life. Some estimates put the number of
plastic-related deaths at two million seabirds and
100,000 marine mammals each year.

sea life cannot live in water

The process of eutrophication


depletes the water of oxygen
and blocks needed sunlight,
causing fish and plant life to
die. GA LE GRO UP.

Pollution prevention In the mid-to-late


1900s, the U.S. government began to enact
regulations on pollutants that have helped
clear much of the waters and air. In 1970
the Clean Air Act established standards for
air quality and emissions. The act required automobile manufacturers
to produce cars that use unleaded fuel, which has reduced pollutants,
and to install pollution-control devices on the exhaust. Factories,
incinerators, and power plants were also required to install pollution-control mechanisms. In the 1970s the Safe Water Drinking Act
and the Clean Water Act were enacted. These acts set water standards
for public water systems and established regulations for the discharge
of pollutants into waters.
Other governments also have enacted regulations against releasing
pollutants. Companies have developed improved methods to clean up
pollution, such as a genetically modified type of bacteria that eats oil from
oil spills. As almost all pollutants are the result of human activity, there
are multiple ways that individuals can help reduce pollutants. Producing
less garbage by recycling, not littering, avoiding disposing of oil or oilrelated products down the drain, and driving less and using a car that
conserves fuel are a few ways that one person can reduce air and water
pollutants.

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WORDS TO KNOW
Control experiment: A setup that is identical to the
experiment, but is not affected by the variable
that affects the experimental group.
Eutrophication: The process by which high
nutrient concentrations in a body of water
eventually cause the natural wildlife to die.
Greenhouse effect: The warming of Earths
atmosphere due to water vapor, carbon
dioxide, and other gases in the atmosphere that
trap heat radiated from Earths surface.

Radon: A radioactive gas located in the ground;


invisible and odorless, radon is a health hazard
when it accumulates to high levels inside homes
and other structures where it is breathed.
Smog: A form of air pollution produced when
moisture in the air combines and reacts with the
products of fossil fuel combustion. Smog is characterized by hazy skies and a tendency to cause
respiratory problems among humans.

Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement


that can be tested.

Thermal inversion: A region in which the warmer


air lies above the colder air; can cause smog to
worsen.

Particulate matter: Solid matter in the form of tiny


particles in the atmosphere. (Pronounced parTIK-you-let.)

Thermal pollution: The discharge of heated water


from industrial processes that can kill or injure
water life.

Pollution: The contamination of the natural environment, usually through human activity.

Variable: Something that can affect the results of an


experiment.

EXPERIMENT 1
Pollutant Bioindicators: Can lichens provide
clues to an areas air pollution?
Purpose/Hypothesis Lichens are organisms that are extremely sensitive to

air pollution. These life forms are actually two types of organisms living in
partnership: fungi and either a green algae or a blue-green bacterium.
Lichens grow on rocks, buildings, and on trees. These organisms receive
virtually all their water and nutrients from the air. Lichens are especially
sensitive to certain air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide. When lichens are
exposed to these pollutants they will die. Automobile emissions and some
industrial processes can produce these pollutants. Because of this, scientists use lichens as indicators of pollution, or bioindicators.
The quantity, diversity, and colors of the lichens all provide evidence
of the areas pollutants. These organisms are colored red, orange, yellow,
gray, black, brown, and green. When lichens are affected by pollutants,
they turn from their usual color and can peel away from the surface they
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crustose

foliose

fruticose

There are three main types of


lichens. GAL E GR OU P.

live on. There are three main types of lichens: Fruticose lichens look like
miniature 1-inch (25-mm) tall shrubs or lettuce leaves and hang from
branches; foliose lichens appear like flat leafs; and crustose lichens sit
closely to their surface and appear crustlike. The crustose lichens are the
most resistant to air pollution, and are often seen in cites. Fruticose
lichens are the most sensitive to pollutants.
In this experiment you will measure an areas air pollution by using
lichens as the bioindicator. You will choose three different areas and
randomly select three trees of similar sizes in each area. You may need
to look at pictures of the different types of lichens before you begin. By
placing a transparent grid over the tree you can count the amount and
type of lichens covering each tree.
Before you begin, make an educated guess about the outcome of this
experiment based on your knowledge of air pollution and lichens. This
educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should
explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be
something you can test through further investigation. Your experiment
will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one
possible hypothesis for this experiment: There will be fewer and less
diversity in the lichens living near high traffic and/or industrial areas than
the lichens in more remote areas.
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In this case, the variable you will change is


the location. The variable you will measure is the
quantity and type of lichens.
Level of Difficulty Moderate.
Materials Needed

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the location

three locations (sites) of different environments; all should have trees (example: a city street, in a park, near a school
parking lot)
trees in each area, of the same or similar
species (kinds)
magnifying glass
ball of string or twine
tape measure
transparent piece of grid paper (11 inch
squares work well, or slightly larger squares)
marking pen
partner (optional but helpful)

types of trees
the size of trees
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the growth of
lichens. If you change more than one variable at
the same time, you will not be able to tell which
variable had the most effect on inhibiting lichen
growth.

Approximate Budget $5.


Timetable 2.5 hours (including travel time).
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Create a chart for each area, listing Tree 1, Tree 2, and Tree 3
across the top columns. Label the rows: Fruticose, Foliose,
Crustose, Bark, and Other.
2. Choose a tree at random in the first area of study. The tree should
have lichen growing on it. Circle the string
around the trunk at a height that you can
comfortably observe, such as 3 feet
How to Experiment Safely
(0.9 meters).
3. Tie a knot in the string and cut. Mark the
If studying trees near the road, be careful of
string with a 1 or one mark.
traffic. Try to conduct your experiment during a
4. Starting at the marked line, place the
low-traffic time of the week and day; and ask an
transparency directly below the string.
adult to accompany you to a high-traffic area.
Count and note the squares covered by
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Troubleshooters Guide
Below is a problem that may arise during this
experiment, some possible causes, and some
ways to remedy the problem.
Problem: All the lichen looked the same.
Possible cause: It is possible that much of the
lichen was the same, especially if the sites
were close to one another. To categorize
lichens it is also helpful to refer to reference
material. If possible, take a book out of the
library with pictures of the different types of
lichen and repeat the experiment, using the
photographs as a guide.

each group of lichens, bare bark, and


other life forms, such as moss. You may
want to use the magnifying glass. Have
your partner write down the results for
each grid. Continue this along the tree
until you have made a complete circle.
Repeat the process above the string.
5. Add up the numbers of squares covered by
each lichen, bark, and any other growth
and then note those numbers on the chart.
6. Also note the color of the lichens on the
chart.

7. Repeat this process with two more randomly chosen trees nearby at the same
site. For each tree, tie a fresh piece of
string at the same height. Mark the second string with a 2 or two marks and the third tree with a 3 or
three marks.

Step 4: Count the squares that


each type of lichen, plain bark,
and other life form(s) takes up
on the tree. GA LE GRO UP.

8. At the second site, use the three pieces of string that are marked.
Try to measure three trees that have roughly the same circumference as each of the trees at the first site. Again, note the types of
lichens and the number of squares each fills.
9. Repeat the process at the third site,
choosing three trees randomly that are
roughly the same diameter.
Summary of Results Calculate the average num-

bers for each site. Use the averages of your data to


create a graph of the three sites. How do the
numbers of lichens compare between the sites?
Is your hypothesis correct? For the same type of
lichens, is there a difference in their colors?
Determine if there was one dominant type of
lichen in each area. How does that dominant
type compare to the lichens in the other two
areas? Examine the possible pollutants in each
area. Write a brief summary of your findings and
analysis.
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Change the Variables To change the variables in this experiment you can

focus on one location and measure the lichens on different trees. You can
focus on specific parts of the trees also, such as a shady or sunny section.
You can also concentrate your research on different pollutants, such as
automobile exhaust and industrial processes. You can then find areas where
you observe each pollutant occurring, and determine its effect on the lichen.

EXPERIMENT 2
Eutrophication: The effect of phosphates on
water plants.
Purpose/Hypothesis Phosphorus is a vital nutrient that both plants and

people need. Plants use phosphorus for converting sunlight into energy,
cell growth, and reproduction. Organisms usually take in phosphorous in
the form of phosphate, a phosphorous compound. Because they promote
plant growth, phosphates are one of the nutrients in many agricultural
and garden fertilizers. Many dishwasher detergents add phosphates to
reduce spotting on glasses and dishes. Laundry detergents can contain
phosphates to soften the water.
In this experiment, you will explore how an excess of phosphates can
affect life in lakes, streams, and oceans. When too many nutrients accumulate in a body of water, it can spark eutrophication. This process begins
with the growth of algae. Algae are simple water plants that are found near
the surface of waters. There are many types of algae, and sea life depends
upon them for food. In waters, phosphorous is naturally present in low
concentrations, as algae require only small amounts of it to live.
In this experiment you will add phosphates to healthy water plants
that are living in water with a natural amount of algae. You will add two
different concentrations of the phosphate and then observe their effect on
the plant. By observing the water plants daily you will be able to
determine the effect of the phosphate.
Before you begin, make an educated guess about the outcome of this
experiment based on your knowledge of water pollution and eutrophication. This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis
should explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
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A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
What Are the Variables?
through further investigation. Your experiment
will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is
Variables are anything that might affect the
correct. Here is one possible hypothesis for this
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
experiment: Water with the highest concentrations of phosphates will cause the algae to clog
the type of plant
the waters and cause the plants to die.
the soap
In this case, the variable you will change is the
the quantity of soap
amount of phosphate added to the water. The
the environmental conditions (sunlight,
variable you will measure is the plants health.
air temperature, water temperature, etc.)
To measure the plants health you can observe its
In other words, the variables in this experiment
height, color, root structure, and leaves.
are everything that might affect the growth of
Conducting a control experiment will help
the plants. If you change more than one variayou isolate each variable and measure the
ble at the same time, you will not be able to tell
which variable had the most effect on how the
changes in the dependent variable. Only one
algae affected the plants health.
variable will change between the control and
the experimental setup, and that is the amount
of phosphate-soap added to the water. The control in this experiment will
be to add no additive to the plants water.
Note: When making a solid/liquid solution, it is standard to use
weight/weight (grams/grams) or weight/volume (grams/milliliters). With
water, 1 gram of water equals 1 milliliter. In this experiment, teaspoons
and tablespoons are used to measure the solid.
Level of Difficulty Easy.
Materials Needed

three small water plants of the same type with roots; elodea work
well (available at pet shops)
pond water (preferred) or water that plants were living in: collect
enough to fill each of the jars about three-quarters full
three glass jars, large enough to hold plants
detergent with high phosphate content (preferably, a detergent
with 7% or higher phosphate content)
masking tape
marking pen
measuring spoons
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Approximate Budget $8.


Timetable 20 minutes to set up; five minutes

daily for about 10 days.

How to Experiment Safely


There are no safety hazards in this experiment.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Label the jars High Phosphate, Low Phosphate, and Control. Fill each jar with the pond water.
2. Create a chart with Day 1, Day 5, and Day 10 written
across the top and the jar labels written down the side.
3. Measure out 1 tablespoon of the detergent and mix into the High
Phosphate water.
4. Measure out 1 teaspoon of the detergent and mix into the Low
Phosphate water.
5. Place one of the plants in each of the three jars. Do not add
detergent to the Control jar.
6. Fill in the physical description of the plant and water for Day 1 on
the chart.
7. Place the three jars in the same sunny location.
8. Observe each plants health and its water daily for about 10 days
(time will vary depending on the amount of algae in the control
water and the amount of sun).
9. On Day 5 and Day 10, note in a chart the color of the water
for each jar and any physical properties of the plant.
Summary of Results Examine the results of your data chart. Hypothesize

Measure the water color and

plant health at Day 1, Day 5,


how phosphates would have different effects in shallow and slow-moving
and Day 10. GAL E GR OU P.
waters compared to that of deep and flowing waters. In which types of
water would sea life be the most in danger? Many
states now limit the use of phosphates in their
detergents. You can research if your state has
regulations on phosphate usage and calculate
how those amounts compare to the amount
used in your experiment.
high phosphate
low phosphate
control

Change the Variables There are several ways


that you can alter this experiment. Try using
different brands of detergent, either dishwashing
or laundry. You can use the same amount of
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Troubleshooters Guide
Below is a problem that may arise during this
experiment, some possible causes, and some
ways to remedy the problem.
Problem: The water in the experiment jars
remained the same as the Control.

detergent in the water and place the jars in varying environments, by placing them in a hot- or
cold-water bath (you will have to change it
daily). Will a cool, sunny environment stimulate
algae growth more than a warm, sunny environment? You can also change the type of water
plant that you use.

Modify the Experiment This experiment measures how water pollution can harm sea life. You
can make this experiment more challenging by
experiment with methods of cleaning up water
pollution and the affected sea life.
Possible cause: Algae grow best in a sunny
The water pollution you used in this experienvironment. It also might look like nothing
ment dissolved in water. For you to better see and
is growing when they will suddenly bloom.
test cleaning water pollution, you can pollute the
Make sure the jars are in a sunny window and
water with oil. Pluck several leaves from the water
continue your observations.
plants and place them in a container of water.
You may want to add other plant life to each
container, such as grasses, along with feathers. Pour about a quarter-cup of
oil into the container, and gently move it back and forth several times.
Collect cotton cloth, string, paper towels, tubing, straws, and liquid
soap. Try to remove as much oil as you can with the tools you have
collected. Tubing can contain the oil; cloth can absorb it; straws can pull it
up, and string can collect it. You may need to conduct several tests before
you find a technique that you find effective. When you have cleaned up the
pollution as best you can, carefully remove the organisms and note how
each is affected by the oil. What happens if you gently rub drops of soap on
the sea life? Experiment with methods of removing the pollution from the
organisms. Could the same techniques be practiced on actual organisms?
Consider how soap may affect sea plants, birds, and animals.

Possible cause: You may not have collected


enough algae to foster growth. Try to find a
pond in your area or use water from another
shop. Repeat the experiment with this new
water.

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept Air and water pollution is

all around, no matter what your location. To think of a topic, you can
first observe the pollution in the waters, cities, and roadways. Think
about methods of measuring the air and water pollution. Check the
Further Readings section and talk with your science teacher to learn
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more about air pollution. You may also want to explore any companies in
your area that measure pollutants.
Steps in the Scientific Method To conduct an original experiment, you
need to plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might
not be sure what question you are answering, what you are or should be
measuring, or what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:

State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe


experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State your hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to your
question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results Your data should include
charts and graphs such as the one you did for these experiments. They
should be clearly labeled and easy to read. You may also want to include
photographs and drawings of your experimental setup and results, which
will help other people visualize the steps in the experiment.
If you are preparing an exhibit, you may want to display your results,
such as any experimental setup you designed. If you have completed a
nonexperimental project, explain clearly what your research question was
and illustrate your findings.
Related Projects Projects related to air and water pollution include

examining their effect on organisms. You can visit a lake or stream in


your area and collect water samples to determine its pollutants, then
compare that to its plant and animal life. You can collect samples of
particulate matter in the air by hanging papers smeared with petroleum
jelly. After collecting the data, you can compare the test sites to the animal
and plant life in the area. For a research project, you could examine how
pollutants affect peoples health and determine if those health problems
are correlated to locations with high levels of pollution. Other projects
include examining methods that scientists have developed to clean up
pollutants. Taking a look at pollution around the world and its impact is
another area of exploration.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

59

Air and Water Pollution

For More Information


Loveable Lichens. Earthlife. http://www.earthlife.net/lichens/intro.html
(accessed on March 19, 2008) Photos and information on all types of lichens.
Macmillian Encyclopedia of Science: The Environment. New York: Macmillan
Publishing USA, 1997. Covers all aspects of our environment and how
pollution affects it.
Spilsbury, Louise. Environment at Risk: The Effects of Pollution. Chicago:
Raintree, 2006. Information and case studies of the effects of pollution.
Students and Teachers. NOAAs Office of Response and Restoration.
response.restoration.noaa.gov/kids/kids.html (accessed on March 19, 2008)
Information and activities on oil spills.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Air. EPA Student Center. http://
www.epa.gov/students/air.htm (accessed on March 19, 2008) A
comprehensive web site with links and information on a wide range of
environmental issues including air pollution, air quality standards, and more.

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Animal Defenses

f youve ever smelled the odor of a skunk or been hissed at by a cat,


youve experienced an animal defense. Animals have developed a lot of
clever defenses to protect them from harm. When attacked by a predator,
an animal can run away or fight. Some types of defenses protect the
animal from ever being seen by predators (the attacking animal). Other
defenses defend the animal when it is attacked.

Playing dead In general, meat-eating animals dont like to eat


animals that they find dead. An animal that is dead could be carrying
disease and cause illness. The opossum uses this instinct as a defensive
strategy. When threatened or wanting to avoid an attack, the opossum
can fall down and play dead. Its tongue rolls out, eyes become glazed and
it releases a foul odor. The predator might sniff or poke the opossum but
it lies completely still. After the would-be predator leaves, the opossum
returns to life. Several types of snakes also use the playdead defense.
Blending into the scene One way to avoid danger is to avoid being
spotted by a predator. Camouflage is the markings or colors that blend in
to the environment. Most animals exhibit some type of camouflage and
blending in is a common animal defense. The green color of many
insects matches leaves; the brown earth tones of deer, squirrels, and other
woodland animals matches the woods colors; the patterns and stripes of
animals, such as a zebra, break up the animals shape so a predator does
not identify it.
Many insects, mammals, and birds have colors or patterns that match
the natural environment so well they are hard to spot, even when you
know they are there. At night, the colorful parrot fish covers itself with a
dark substance that it makes while breathing. The protective coat shields
the parrot fish from its predators. The skin of mossy frogs has the same
colors, bumps, and texture as the moss that they live in. A leaf frog
features bumps over its eyes and a pointed nose, taking on the color
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Animal Defenses

WORDS TO KNOW
Camouflage: A coating that allows an animal to
blend in to its surrounding environment.

Mimicry: A characteristic in which an animal is


protected against predators by resembling
another, more distasteful animal.

Ecosystem: An ecological community, including


plants, animals and microorganisms, considered
together with their environment.

Predator: An animal that hunts another animal for


food.

Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that


can be tested by observation and/or experiment.

Variable: Something that can affect the results of


an experiment.

and shape of a leaf. The walking stick insect can easily be mistaken for a
twig from its appearance and its stillness.

The skunk can omit a strong,


foul odor when in danger. AP
PH OT O/P HI L CO AL E.

In camouflage, an animal appears as something in its environment.


When animals appear as another, more-dangerous or inedible animal, it
is called mimicry.
Often one type of animal will take on the appearance of a poisonous,
similar animal. There are butterflies in the Amazon that take on the
appearance of poisonous butterflies. Several species of harmless snakes
have the bright red, yellow, and black strips as the venomous (poisonous)
coral snake. Some animals simply dont want to
have predators think they taste good. A type of
butterfly in Brazil has developed the appearance
of another butterfly species that tastes foul.
There are also animals that can mimic the
appearance of animals that are different species.
Several types of jumping spiders mimic ants.
One of these spiders is the same size, shape,
and color as a weaver ant, which has a sharp
bite and painful venom. The mimic octopus
gets its nickname from its ability to take on the
appearance of several venomous ocean creatures,
including a lionfish and sea snake.
The smell that scares When an animal is
struck with a bad odor, it is usually not going to
enjoy eating. After a skunk has tried to scare or
move away from a threat, it defends itself with a

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Animal Defenses

smelly spray. The odor is so strong and foul it


can cause nausea. The skunk will often aim for
the face of the predator because the spray can
also sting. Weasels, bedbugs, and snakes are
other animals that use foul odors to ward off
predators.
Wild and strange defenses There are many
other defense strategies animals have evolved.
The horned lizards are ant-eating lizards in
North America. When attacked or threatened,
the lizard shoots blood out of the tear ducts in its
eyes. The blood contains substances that make it
foul tasting. Having an imposing look is the
defense strategy for several animals, including
the puffer fish. When the puffer fish is threatened, it can increase up to three times its size by
gulping water.
The electric eel is one of several animals that
defends itself with a jolt of electricity when a
predator attacks. Octopi and cuttlefish are just
two marine animals that squirt out a black ink
for defense.

PROJECT 1
Camouflage: Does an animals living environment
relate to the color of the animal life?

The electric eel uses a jolt of


electricity when a predator
attacks. G EOR GE GRA LL .
NAT IO NAL GEO GR APH IC ,
GET TY I MA GES .

Purpose/Hypothesis How an animal defends itself is strongly influenced


by its living environment. A wide variety of animals use camouflage as a
form of defense. The purpose of this project is to observe the camouflage
that small animals use in one isolated outside environment. The area you
choose could be the bark of a tree, a grassy patch, leaves, or a stretch of
dirt. You will record the animal colors living in that particular environment. You will then compare the percentage of animals living in the first
environment to animals living in another type of habitat.

Depending upon the environment, common animals you can look


for include butterflies, stick insects, moths, beetles, grasshoppers, frogs,
rabbits, squirrels, and crickets.
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63

Animal Defenses

Level of Difficulty Moderate. (This project


requires careful observation and patience.)
Materials Needed

camera (optional)
magnifying glass (optional)
paper and pencil
a nice day

Approximate Budget $0.


A wide variety of animals use
camouflage as a form of
defense. I LL UST RA TI ON BY
T EM AH NE LS ON.

Use a similar chart to compare


the two environments.
I LLU ST RAT IO N BY T EM AH
NEL SO N.

Habitat 1
(color)
Organi
Org
n sms

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

64

color

Timetable Varies widely, depending upon the

area, animals, and number of animals you want to locate.


Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Once you decide on a specific habitat, spend some time looking


for insects or other small animals that live in that environment.
When you spot an insect or other animal, write down the insect
or describe it if you dont know its nameand note its color. You
may want to use a magnifying glass. If you have a camera, take a
picture of each organism you find.
2. Continue looking for small animals until
you have located at least five to 10 different organisms living in the environment
you selected. In some environments, this
Habitat 2
may take time and careful attention.
(color)
Organisms
color
Remember, some animals might be
camouflaged!
3. Determine the percent of organisms that
are the color of its surrounding environment. (You can determine the percent by
dividing the number of organisms that
were a certain color by the total number
of organisms located.)
4. Repeat the entire process for another
environment, which is a different color.
Again, try to located at least five to 10
organisms.
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Animal Defenses

Summary of Results Compare the percent of

insects the color of the first environment to the


percent in the second environment. If you took
pictures, compare the pictures of the animals in
each environment. Does the color of the environment predict the color of the organisms that live
there? You may want to chart your results. You
could also use your notes or pictures to try and
identify any unknown animals.

How to Experiment Safely


Never touch the insects/animals or disturb their
living environment; simply observe them.

EXPERIMENT 2
Ladybug Threats: How do ladybugs defend
themselves when they feel threatened?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will determine how lady-

bugs defend themselves when they sense a threat. Ladybugs have three
methods of defense that help keep them safe. The distinct red color of a
ladybug is in itself a defense mechanism. Many animals instinctively
know not to eat bright colors organisms because they are often poisonous
(many red berries, for example). Ladybugs also can give off a foul odor
when threatened and this helps to keep their predator away. Lastly,
ladybugs will play dead when approached by a potential predator or
when unsure of their surroundings. Many insects and animals will not eat
dead things and so they move away from the ladybug. In time, the
ladybug will resume its activity.
You will test different stimuli on the ladybug
that it may see as threatening or unknown, and
then observe how the ladybugs defend themselves. For the stimuli, you will expose the ladybugs to light, air movement, gentle nudging,
vibrations, and sound. You can then observe its
reactions for each.
Before you begin the experiment, make an
educated guess about the outcome based on your
knowledge of animal defenses and ladybugs.
This educated guess, or prediction, is your
hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these
things:
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Troubleshooters Guide
Not locating enough organisms in each environment is the major problem that can occur in
this project. Finding organisms can take
patience and care. Many animals are more
active in the beginning and end of the day,
rather than during midday. If you are having
trouble locating organisms, look for the organisms another time in the day, such as early
morning. You could also try searching in
another place, using the same environment.

65

Animal Defenses

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
light intensity the ladybug is exposed to
wind movement
movement the ladybug experiences
physical proximity to object
physical proximity to another insect
sound intensity in the background
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might effect the reaction of
the ladybug to various situations. If you change
more than one variable, you will not be able to
tell which variable had the most effect on the
reaction of the ladybug.

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove your hypothesis. Here is one possible
hypothesis for this experiment: The ladybug
will play dead when it is in a threatening or
unknown situation.
In this case, the variables you will change are
situations that may be perceived as threatening
or unknown to the ladybug. The variable you
will measure is the reaction of the ladybug to
these various new situations.
Level of Difficulty Moderate.
Materials Needed

Step 8: Approach the ladybug


with the pencil and note the
reaction. IL LU STR AT ION BY
TE MAH NEL SO N.

35 ladybugs, found or purchased from local nursery or online


plastic container with cover, approximately 5 to 7 inches (1318
centimeter) long
flashlight
12 ants, caterpillars, inchworms, or
spiders (found)
1 pencil
Approximate Budget $1015 if you have to

purchase ladybugs; $0 if you can find the bugs.


Timetable Approximately one hour.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Place two ladybugs in the plastic container with lid. If one of the ladybugs
flies away, replace it with another.
2. Observe and note the ladybugs behavior
for several minutes. Wait for them to
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Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Animal Defenses

3.

4.
5.

6.

7.
8.

9.
10.

11.
12.

become comfortable in their new environment and move around slightly.


How to Experiment Safely
Shine a flashlight into the plastic container. Note whether the ladybugs react
Ladybugs are living animals and should be
to the change in light.
handled with care so that they are not harmed
during the experiment. After the experiment is
Wait about two to three minutes until the
complete, you can release them into a garden
ladybugs resume activity.
where they help manage pests.
Lift off the lid of the container and blow
softly onto one or both of the ladybugs.
Note the reaction. Change the intensity of
your breath, blowing slightly harder. Note whether the reaction of
the ladybug change as well.
After waiting for ladybugs to resume activity (two to three minutes)
introduce another insect (ant, caterpillar, inchworm, spider) into
the box. Note the reaction of the ladybugs. Be careful that the insect
does not actually attack the ladybug (if so, remove the insect).
Remove the second type of insect and again, wait for the ladybugs
to resume normal activity.
Without poking the ladybug, approach it with the pencil and note
reaction. Gently nudge the ladybug with the pencil and note its
reaction. Repeat this on the second ladybug.
Wait several minutes until both ladybugs resumes activity.
Try clapping your hands at different sound intensities close to the
Step 10: Clap your hands at
different sound intensities close
ladybug. Start with a soft clap and increase to a loud noise. Note
to the ladybug. I LLU ST RAT IO N
which, if any, sound intensity appears to
BY T EMA H NE LS ON.
threaten the ladybug and note its
reaction.
Wait several minutes until the ladybugs
resumes normal activity.
Try gently shaking the container with the
ladybug in it. Does this sudden movement cause the ladybug to react?

Summary of Results Study the observations of

the ladybugs reactions to various situations and


decide whether your hypothesis was correct. In
what situation did the ladybug appear to feel
threatened and how did it react? If it played
dead, how long did it take for it to start moving
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67

Animal Defenses

Troubleshooters Guide
Below is the main problem that may occur
during this project and ways to remedy the
problem.
Problem: Ladybug doesnt play dead.
Possible cause: The ladybugs may not feel
threatened. Sometimes there is safety in numbers
and ladybugs may feel more vulnerable by
themselves. Separate ladybugs from one another
and try various scenarios with one ladybug.
Possible cause: You may have tested possibly
very old or sick ladybugs. Try collecting new
ladybugs and repeat the tests.

again? Write a summary of your results. You may


want to include pictures.
Change the Variables Here are some ways you

can vary this experiment:


Test other stimuli that may be potentially
threatening to the ladybug, such as strong
smells (onion or garlic).
Alter the environment: Conduct the
experiment outside in the ladybugs natural environment, as opposed to a plastic
container.
Change the insect: For example the pill
bug, a common insect found in soil, will
curl itself into a ball when it senses
danger.

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept As you think about

experiments and projects relating to animal defenses, consider animals


that are familiar to you. What are some behaviors of cats, dogs, and fish?
Consider animals that you have seen in zoos or in the movies.
Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science
teacher to start gathering information on animal defense questions that
interest you. You may want to speak with people who are knowledgeable
about different types of animals. As you consider possible experiments, be
sure to discuss them with your science teacher or another knowledgeable
adult before trying them. Remember that some animals can be dangerous
and you should never provoke any animal. Work with someone familiar
with the animal and plan how you will care for or handle any animal that
you collect or purchase.
Steps in the Scientific Method To conduct an original experiment, you

need to plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might
not be sure what question you are answering, what you are or should be
measuring, or what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
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Animal Defenses

State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe


experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved, and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to
your question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results The most important part

of the experiment is the information gathered from it. Think of how you
can share your results with others. Charts, graphs, and diagrams of the
progress and results of the experiments are helpful in informing others
about an experiment. You may also want to take photographs.
Related Experiments Many experiments or projects with animals can be

made through simple observation. You may want to observe how different animals species interact with one another when they feel threatened or
excited. You can observe the interactions between dogs, cats, squirrels,
and other familiar animals, or you can observe the behavior of insect
interactions. You could also observe the many camouflage adaptations
animals have by visiting a local zoo or aquarium. You could conduct a
research project on one type of animal that lives in your area or are curious
about.

For More Information


Camouflage. BBC: Walking with Beasts. http://www.abc.net.au/beasts/
fossilfun/camouflage/camouflage.swf (accessed on May 11, 2008). An
interactive game on animal camouflage.
Exploring Mammals. Natural History Museum. http://www.nhm.org/
mammals/home.html (accessed on May 31, 2008). Information on animal
behavior and defenses.
Kaner, Etta. Animal Defenses: How Animals Protect Themselves. Toronto, ON:
Kids Can Press, 1999.
National Geographic. Animals, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com
(accessed on May 11 2008). Information on animal features, with pictures
and video.

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

69

Annual Growth

id you ever measure your height to see how much taller you were than
the year before? This change is your annual growth. In humans, annual
growth depends on factors such as your age (babies grow at a faster rate than
teenagers) and your genes (which make sure your growth pattern is similar to
that of your parents and grandparents). How can we determine the annual
growth of other organisms, and what factors can we find that affect their
growth?
Trees are probably the tallest living organisms you will see in your life.
Yet most trees around you grew from seeds no larger than the eraser on a
pencil. The process by which these tiny seeds become trees is fascinating and
easy to observe, when you know what to look for.

How does a tree grow? A tree grows in two ways. The tips of its
branches and tips of its roots contain cells that reproduce, making the tree
taller and its roots deeper. Another layer of dividing cells increases the width
of the trees trunk little by little, increasing its support and providing a route
for water to reach the upper branches. While a tree is alive, scientists can
determine its growth rate by measuring the change in its diameter and also
by observing the patterns of new growth on branches and twigs. When a tree
has fallen or been cut down, scientists can learn much about the trees
growth throughout its life and can even learn about changes in climate and
soil composition long ago by examining the growth rings inside the
main trunk.
The growth rings that are visible on a tree stump result from the trees
cycle of growth and dormancy. The interior of a trees trunk contains
special tube-like vertical cells called xylem, which function as a vital part
of the trees water-transport system. Each year, new xylem is produced near
the outer layer of bark. In the spring, when conditions are usually wettest,
the tree produces large xylem cells. During the drier months of summer, the
tree produces smaller xylem cells. In the winter, the trees growth cycle
71

Annual Growth

When a tree has fallen or been


cut down, its annual growth
rings become visible. G AL E
GRO UP.

You can learn about a trees


growth pattern by observing the
segments of twigs on the tree.
GA LE GRO UP.

72

goes into a state of dormancy, a period of inactivity to keep its energy in reserve while water is
scarce.
This alternating pattern of fast and slow
growth causes the dark and light pattern of rings
you can see on the tree stump. Each ring represents
a growing season. Generally, a larger, more prominent ring marks a longer, wetter growing season.
In this way, scientists have been able to pinpoint
when climatic changes occurred long ago in a
regions history. A skilled scientist with the right
tools can learn even more from a trees rings, such as when the tree
experienced changes in soil composition, forest fires, and floods.
We can also learn about a trees growth pattern by observing the
segments of twigs on the tree. Each spring, the tree will put out a bud at
the end of each twig. That bud forms the beginning of that years new
growth. Once the twig grows beyond the point where the bud first formed,
the remnants of the bud create a scar, or ring. These rings mark off each
year of the trees growth. The most recent segment is the one closest to the
end of the twig (assuming the twig has not been broken).
Some twigs exhibit growth rings going back many years. Once a
growing season is completed, that seasons segment will not grow any
longer. The segments can give you a rough indication of how much growth
a tree experienced in one season compared to other seasons. Remember that
growth may not be the same from one side of a tree to the other, especially
in large trees. The segment indicates most accurately how much growth
occurred on that branch of the tree in a given growing season.
In the first experiment, you will compare the annual growth pattern of
twigs on several trees in your area with the rainfall
figures for each year. You will then determine if
precipitation in your area has had a measurable
effect on the trees annual growth.
Lichens: Another kind of annual
growth Have you ever noticed the patches of colorful plant life that sometimes grow on rocks and
buildings? Some resemble greenish-brown stains,
while others look like blotches of mold. When
examined closely, some appear to be tiny forests
of hairy branches. These are actually a unique and
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Annual Growth

On many trees, twigs exhibit


evidence of past growing seasons
by the distance separating their
scars or annual growth rings.
GA LE G RO UP.

fascinating life form called lichens. Scientists who study lichens are known as
lichenologists. One of the most renowned lichenologists was Beatrix Potter,
the author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Though better known for her childrens
stories, Potter devoted much of her time to the study of lichens and produced
detailed watercolor illustrations of different lichen forms.
Lichens are far more complex than they appear. Each lichen contains
two partners, usually a fungus and an alga, that bond together in a symbiotic relationship. Symbiosis occurs when two organisms form a relationship that benefits both. By combining the advantages of fungus with the
advantages of algae, the lichen is able to survive where other organisms
would perish.
The most visible part of the typical lichen is a fungus. Fungi are plant-like
organisms that differ from true plants in that they are heterotrophs, organisms
that must get their food from other organisms. Fungi usually get their food
from dead and decaying matter. Fungi are composed of thin strands that form
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

73

Annual Growth

Lichens are actually complex


partnerships of different
organisms working together.
P ETE R AR NO LD I NC.

a network that becomes a home for the funguss


partner. That partner is usually an alga, although
some lichens contain cyanobacteria instead. If you
examine a cross-section of a lichen, you will usually
see the alga as a thin layer of green just under the
organisms top layer. Algae are tiny plants that use
photosynthesis to create nutrients, making them
autotrophs.
Lichens can survive harsh environments The
symbiotic relationship between the fungus and the
algal cells of the lichen depends on the structure
and functioning of each. The fungus is capable of
securing itself to inhospitable surfaces, such as bare
rock or even plastic. Often, however, a fungus
would not find sufficient nutrients in such a habitat. The algal cells, on the other hand, can produce food by photosynthesis, but they could not
survive on their own on a bare rock. The two form
a symbiotic union. The fungus provides the algae
with protection from the harsh environment,
while the algae provide the fungus with food.
Cyanobacteria are among the most ancient
organisms on Earth. They are usually found in
water, sometimes joining together in colonies.
Cyanobacteria contain chlorophyll and perform photosynthesis, and thus
they sometimes are found in lichens in place of algae.
Lichen growth patterns can be used to determine the age of rocks and
rock formations because the rate of growth is extremely slow and regular.
Lichens serve as a good indicator of air pollution levels because of their
sensitivity to impurities in the atmosphere. In the second experiment, you
will utilize two samples of living lichen to measure differences in air
quality in different places.

EXPERIMENT 1
Tree Growth: What can be learned from the
growth patterns of trees?
Purpose/Hypothesis For this experiment, you will examine and collect

growth data from branches of different trees. Then you will determine
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Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Annual Growth

whether these data correspond to the precipitation in your region. Before you begin, make an
educated guess about the outcome of this experiment based on your knowledge of plant growth.
This educated guess, or prediction, is your
hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these
things:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through observation. Your experiment will
prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one
possible hypothesis for this experiment: The branches of trees in
this area will show similar growth patterns over the past few years
because they all received the same amounts of rainfall during each
growing season.
In this case, the variable you will change is the type of tree, and the
variable you will measure is the growth pattern over the past few years.
You expect the growth patterns to be similar.

Cyanobacteria are single-celled


organisms that perform
photosynthesis. PH OTO
RES EA RC HER S I NC.

The fungus in a lichen provides


a protecting structure for the
algal cells, which provide food.
GAL E GR OU P.

Level of Difficulty Moderate.


Materials Needed

sketchbook and pencil


ruler (one showing millimeters or sixteenths of an inch)
pruning shears (optional)
camera (optional)
Approximate Budget $2.
Timetable This experiment should be done in

two periods of at least 15 minutes each: one


period to collect and organize data, and the
other to interpret the data and present the
results.
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75

Annual Growth

WORDS TO KNOW
Alga/Algae: Single-celled or multicellular plants or
plant-like organisms that contain chlorophyll,
thus making their own food by photosynthesis.
Algae grow mainly in water.
Autotroph: An organism that can build all the food
and produce all the energy it needs with its own
resources.
Chlorophyll: A green pigment found in plants that
absorbs sunlight, providing the energy used in
photosynthesis, or the conversion of carbon
dioxide and water to complex carbohydrates.
Cyanobacteria: Oxygen-producing, aquatic
bacteria capable of manufacturing its own
food; resembles algae.
Dormancy: A state of inactivity in an organism.
Fungi: Kingdom of various single-celled or
multicellular organisms, including mushrooms,
molds, yeasts, and mildews, that do not contain
chlorophyll.
Gene: A segment of a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
molecule contained in the nucleus of a cell that
acts as a kind of code for the production of some
specific protein. Genes carry instructions for
the formation, functioning, and transmission
of specific traits from one generation
to another.

Heterotrophs: Organisms that cannot make their


own food and that must, therefore, obtain their
food from other organisms.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement
that can be tested by observation and
experiment.
Lichen: An organism composed of a fungus and a
photosynthetic organism in a symbiotic
relationship.
Niche: The specific location and place in the food
chain that an organism occupies in its
environment.
Photosynthesis: Chemical process by which
plants containing chlorophyll use sunlight to
manufacture their own food by converting
carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates,
releasing oxygen as a by-product.
Symbiosis: A pattern in which two or more
organisms live in close connection with each
other, often to the benefit of both or all
organisms.
Variable: Something that can affect the results of
an experiment.
Xylem: Plant tissue consisting of elongated, thickwalled cells that transport water and mineral
nutrients.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Choose branches or twigs that exhibit the visible signs of annual


growth described above. Select different trees in different locations.
If you use fallen branches, make sure they are recently fallen. Otherwise, you will not be sure when the most recent growth occurred.
Branches that have been split or damaged, especially at the growth tip,
may not provide useful results.
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2. Ask your teacher or an adult before cutting


any branches or twigs. Remember that any
change you make to the natural environment will probably have a lasting effect, so
avoid damaging trees whenever possible. If
you decide to cut a branch to illustrate your
project, do not cut the branch too close to
the trunk or greater branch, as this could
harm the tree.
3. Note the number of segments you can
find on the branch you have selected.
Determine which is from the most
recently completed growing season and
then note how many growth seasons are
visible on your branch.

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the species of tree being examined
the condition of the branches (damaged
or not damaged, for example)
variations in rainfall among the areas
where the trees are growing
the amount of fertilizer or other nutrients
each tree receives
other factors influencing growth, such
as the amount of sunlight, level of air
pollution, and the presence of disease
in the trees

4. Sketch or photograph the branch. Note as


If you change more than one variable, you will
much information as possible about the tree
not be able to tell which variable had the most
and its immediate environment. What kind
effect on the growth patterns. Try to keep all
of tree is it? Is it competing with other trees
variables the same except the one you are
for water and sunlight? Might there be
examining: the amount of annual growth.
some other environmental factors affecting
its growth, such as air pollution or drainage
from parking lots or sidewalks? Check
whether the tree is receiving water from an irrigation or sprinkler
system. This would have a clear effect on your data, and may make an
interesting comparison for your study.
5. Measure each segment and record your data. Use a chart to keep
your information consistent. Your chart should look something like
the illustration.
6. Once you have found and examined a number of different samples,
use your data to test your hypothesis. For each sample, find the year
in which the least growth occurred. Then find the year in which the
greatest growth occurred. Use the different samples you have for
each growing season to find an average growth for that year. Ask
your teacher or librarian for help in finding annual rainfall figures
for the years for which you have sample. Compare these figures to
the results of your branch measurements.
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How to Experiment Safely


If you choose to cut a branch or branches to
illustrate your findings, be sure to ask permission
before cutting. Use proper protective wear and
be careful with the pruning shears.

Summary of Results Examine your results and


determine whether your hypothesis is correct.
Did the samples show consistently greater or lesser
growth for one or more growing seasons? If so, did
those years have more or less rainfall than usual?
Change the Variables You can vary this experi-

ment by changing the variables. Instead of comparing growth seasons, try simply comparing growth
rates from one type of tree to another. See if you can find which tree branches
in your area exhibit the most growth in a season. Which tree branches grow
the least?
Modify the Experiment In this experiment, you learned about how the

growing pattern of trees is affected by the rainfall in an area. For a more


in-depth understanding of tree growth, you can use the branches you
collected to determine if water absorption differs among trees in the
same area.
You know that water is an important source of nutrients that trees need
to grow. But do all trees in the same area absorb equal amounts of available
water? First, make a hypothesis. Select two of the branches you collected
from two different types of trees growing in the same area. A twig from a

Step 5: Example of tree growth


recording chart. GAL E GR OU P.

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tree with needles and a twig from a tree with large


leaves would work well. Snap off two twigs (about
Troubleshooters Guide
the same size) from each of the two branches. You
should have four twigs: two from one type of tree
Here is a problem that may arise, a possible
and two from another, all about the same size.
cause, and a way to remedy the problem.
Prepare two clear measuring cups. Place the
Problem: The amount of growth varies greatly
two twigs that are the same in one cup and the
from tree to tree.
two other twigs in the second cup. Fill each
Possible cause: Different types of trees can have
of the cups half-full with water, leaving the top
drastically different growth rates. Remember
of the twigs not immersed. Make sure that the
that you are looking for which years had the
two cups contain equals amounts of water. For
greatest and the least growth for each treea
example, if the twigs stand slightly past a two-cup
factor that may be consistent from tree to tree
measuring cup, you may want to fill each cup
regardless of each ones growth rate.
with 1.5 cups of water. Write down the amount
of water and mark the water line with a piece of
masking tape.
Cover the tops of the cups with paper. You may need to poke the twigs
through the paper so that the paper rests on the cup. Set aside for two days
and then note the water level. Was the amount of water absorbed different
for each type of tree? What twig absorbed the most water? Place another
piece of tape at the water level and wait another day. Continue for several
days or until the water is almost gone. Graph your results. What does this
tell you about the water usage of different types of trees? What types of trees
would fare better in a drought?

EXPERIMENT 2
Lichen Growth: What can be learned from the
environment by observing lichens?
Purpose/Hypothesis For this experiment, you will need to locate different

lichens in various habitats around your school and/or home. Counting and
measuring the number of lichens you find growing in different areas will
give you a rough idea of the amounts of air pollution present. Lichens are
nearly everywhere. You will need, however, to find samples large enough to
examine and measure. In rural environments, this should not be difficult.
Lichens can frequently be found on trees, dead wood, and rocks. Before
you begin, make an educated guess about the outcome of this experiment
based on your knowledge of lichens. This educated guess, or prediction, is
your hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these things:
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What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the species of lichen being examined
the surface on which the lichen is
growing
the amount of sunlight and rainfall the
lichen receives
the location of the lichen relative to
sources of air pollution
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the size and
numbers of the lichens. If you change more
than one variable, you will not be able to tell
which variable had the most effect on lichens.

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct.
Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: Fewer and smaller lichens will grow in
areas with higher levels of air pollution (near
roads and factories) than in areas with cleaner air.
In this case, the variable you will change is
the location of the lichens, and the variable you
will measure is their number and size. You
expect fewer and smaller lichens will be found
near sources of air pollution.
Level of Difficulty Moderate.

Materials Needed

sketchbook and pencil


magnifying glass
ruler (one showing millimeters or sixteenths of an inch)
camera (optional)

Approximate Budget $5.


Timetable This experiment requires a commitment of several hours

searching and cataloging lichens.


Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Your research for this experiment should begin in the library. It


will be worthwhile to photocopy photographs and illustrations of
different forms of lichen and bring this information with you
when you go out looking for lichen.
2. Remember that lichens can be quite fragile. Treat lichens gently
while measuring and sketching them.
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3. If you are working together with a group,


you might find it useful to divide the
responsibilities. Have one group member
sketch the lichen while others measure or
write brief descriptions of the lichens habitat. Prepare a chart on which you will
record your observations for each lichen
you find. Your chart should look something like the illustration.

How to Experiment Safely


This project puts you in contact with fungus
from the wild. NEVER eat any wild fungus, even
one that looks familiar. Fungi that closely
resemble edible mushrooms can in fact be highly
toxic. Treat lichens the same way. Though some
are edible, many are not. You should also wear
gloves when handling the fungus.

4. Once you have found a lichen, take note


on your chart of the habitat. Is the lichen
growing on a tree or rock, or on some
other object, such as a rusted barrel? How close is the lichen to the
nearest source of air pollution? Note all other environmental factors
that might affect the rate of lichen growth, such as shelter from rain
and sun. Next examine the lichen itself. Describe it as clearly as
possible, identifying its color, form, and texture.
5. Measure the lichen using your ruler. Lichen that grow in patches start
with one tiny spore-like structure and then grow outward, like mold
on bread. Therefore, try to locate the largest single sample instead of
measuring two that have grown together. Measure the lichens greatest

Step 3: Example of the lichen


recording chart. GA LE G ROU P.

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Troubleshooters Guide
Here is a problem that may arise, a possible
cause, and a way to remedy the problem.
Problem: No lichens can be found.
Possible cause: Some areas, particularly urban
environments with high levels of air pollution,
may not have any lichens. If you think this may
be possible, check with your teacher before
attempting this experiment.

horizontal length and greatest vertical length


and record this data on your chart.
6. Select different sites that are more likely to
show the effects of air pollution. Try to find
lichens at different distances from highways,
airports, or factories. Roadway intersections
often produce increased pollution levels due
to cars and trucks stopping and starting.
Summary of Results Examine your results and

determine whether your hypothesis is correct.


Did you find a consistent difference in the size
(or presence) of lichens on trees closer to roads or
parking lots? What other factors did you note that might be affecting lichen
growth? Write a summary of your findings.

Change the Variables There are several ways you can vary this experiment.

Try measuring the effect of changes on the lichen, such as treatment of


sunlight and moisture, competition with other plants, or exposure to
lichen-eating animals.

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept Try growing lichen in a
controlled environment. If you find lichen growing on an easily movable
object, such as a piece of dead wood or a small rock, try carefully moving that
rock into your classroom or laboratory. Remember that the lichen needs light
and moisture. If you are able to transport lichen, you can design an experiment
that will more accurately test the effects of different air qualities on the lichen.
Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science
teacher or school or community media specialist to start gathering
information on annual growth or lichen questions that interest you.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original experiment, you need to

plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not be sure
what question you are answering, what you are or should be measuring, or
what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
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Recognize the variables involved, and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to
your question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results In the experiments
included here and in any experiments you develop, you can try to display
your data in more accurate and interesting ways. Collecting samples of the
lichen you measure for your experiment will make the results more
interesting to viewers. Photographs of the lichen you find can be helpful,
but you may discover that careful sketches can reproduce details that are
not clear in photographs.
Related Projects Projects and experiments in annual growth can reveal
much about our environment that usually occurs too slowly for us to
notice. Some fascinating experiments can be conducted over longer
periods of time if you establish a structure for other students to follow
later on. Talk with your teacher and classmates about starting a project to
monitor long-term tree or lichen growth in your area. Take measurements of the circumference of the tree trunks near your school and record
your data for comparison next year. Look for sources of information on
tree growth in the past. Old photographs cannot provide exact measurements, but they can show roughly how much a tree has changed over a
period of years or even decades.

For More Information


Arbor Day Foundation. Fantastic Arborday.org Tree Guide. http://www.
arborday.org/trees/treeguide (accessed on January 19, 2008). Information
about classification of trees.
Menninger, Edward. Fantastic Trees. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 1995. A fun
and fascinating look at strange and little known facts about trees.
Oregon State University. Fantastic Lichenland. http://ocid.nacse.org/lichenland
(accessed on January 19, 2008). Information about types of lichen.
Platt, Rutherford. 1001 Questions Answered About Trees. New York: Dover
Publishing, 1992. A question and answer format book covering practically
everything about trees.
Pollick, Steve. Find Out Everything About Plants. London: BBC Publishing,
1996. Contains a number of interesting and clearly illustrated project ideas
on plant and growth related topics.

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Bacteria

ou cannot see them with the naked eye, but the world is teeming with
bacteria. They live around you, inside of you, and are found in environments that would kill most every other life form. Bacteria are microbes,
organisms that are so small they can only been seen with a microscope. They
are the simplest, most abundant, and oldest life form on Earth, having
evolved roughly 3.5 billion years ago. That beats other life forms by a long
shot including dinosaurs, which only arrived on the scene 250 million years
ago, and humans, who appeared a mere 2 million years ago. Scoop up a
teaspoon of soil and, if you could see them, you would count about a billion
bacteria.
While bacteria often make headline news as the cause of disease, the vast
majority are either harmless or helpful to humans. Many bacteria live in the
soil and decompose dead plants and animals. This process returns needed
nutrients back into the environment, which plants and animals then use to
live and grow. Other bacteria change the nitrogen gas from the air into a form
of nitrogen that plants needs to survive. For humans, they are used to produce
foods, such as yogurt and cheese. Humans and some animals depend on
bacteria in their digestive tract to break down the plants they eat so they can
process the food. Bacteria are an integral part to all life on Earth.
Wretched beasties The discovery that bacteria exist is one of the major
breakthroughs in science. It began with the development of the microscope.
In the late 1600s Dutch merchant and amateur scientist Antony van
Leeuwenhoek (16321723) had built microscopes that magnified objects
up to 200 times their size. While he was examining water droplets and the
white matter on teeth he noted the existence of these wretched beasties
wriggling about. Although he did not know it, this was the first recorded
sighting of bacteria.
Two hundred years later researchers connected these tiny microbes to
some of the deadly diseases that were sweeping through the world and killing
hundreds of millions of people. For thousands of years, people did not
85

Bacteria

understand the cause of disease; they often blamed


a disease on evil spirits or as a punishment to the
victim.
Then in the 1860s scientists Louis Pasteur
found in mouth, causes
(18221895) and Robert Koch (18431910) conplaque
bacteroides fragilis
ducted a series of experiments that showed
microbes could cause disease. They called their
evidence the germ theory of disease. Pasteur discovered bacteria could cause food to spoil and he
found in large intestine,
produces Vitamin K
developed a method to destroy these bacteria, now
lactobacillus acidophilus
called pasteurization. Koch isolated the individual
bacteria that caused the deadly diseases anthrax,
tuberculosis, and cholera. Understanding that
helps digestion, inhibits
microbes acted upon other life forms opened the
undesirable bacteria and
door to an entirely new field of research. Scientists
yeasts
learned how to destroy and protect against these
microbes, saving millions of lives.
What they look like There are thousands of species of bacteria, yet all
share some basic features. Bacteria are single-celled organisms and fall into a
category of life called prokaryotes. Prokaryotes do not have certain specialized structures in their cells and they do not have a cell nucleus, which
humans have. A nucleus is a cellular compartment inside cells that surrounds
DNA and other organelles. An organelle is an enclosed structure in a cell
that performs a specific function, much like the role of an organ in the body.
What the typical bacteria does have is a fluid called cytoplasm inside
its cell. Cytoplasm is a gooey, gel-like substance that holds everything and
helps move materials around inside the cell. All the genetic information is
contained in the deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) molecule. The DNA in
bacteria sits loosely in the cytoplasm. Also located
in the cytoplasm are the ribosomes. Ribosomes
play a key role in translating the information
pili
DNA
from DNA into proteins.
The cytoplasm is surrounded by a simple cell
membrane, which has a variety of functions,
including bringing nutrients and chemicals into
the cells. The cell membrane is enclosed by a rigid
cell wall that provides the overall shape. Bacteria
come in three basic shapes. There are bacteria
ribosome
shaped like rods, those that are spherical or
round, and those that are helical or spiral.
streptococcus mutans

staphylococcus aureus

lives in the nose and


prevents harmful
microbes from
entering lungs

escherichia coli

lives in the
gut and plays
role in digestive
system

The human body houses


trillions of bacteria. Bacteria
can cause disease if they get out
of control, yet many help
humans stay healthy. G AL E
GRO UP.

Cell structure of the typical


bacterium. GA LE GRO UP.

flagellum

cytoplasm

cell wall

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Some bacteria have whiplike structures called


flagella that they use to move forward. Some also
have small hairlike projections from the cell surface
called pili. Pili help the cell stick to surfaces or to
each other.
The typical bacteria range in size from 1 to 5
micrometers (m). One micrometer equals one
millionth of a meter. Scientists use micrometers as
the unit of measurement because bacteria are too
small to be measured in inches or millimeters.
A large clump of bacteria growing together is
called a colony. A colony can have millions of
individual bacteria and is visible to the naked eye.

Closeup of the Leptospira


bacteria. C US TOM MED IC AL
STO CK P HO TO

Living and eating Bacteria have survived on Earth for billions of years
because they are able to adapt relatively quickly to changing environments.
One of the ways they adapt is by having a speedy reproduction rate. Bacteria
usually reproduce by simply dividing into two cells. All the genetic information, the DNA, is passed along to each of the cells. Sometimes bacteria
reproduce sexually: one bacterium transferring part of its DNA to another
Bacteria come in three basic
bacterium. This allows bacteria to quickly create or pass along new traits that
shapes: rod, spherical or round,
help them adapt to different environments.
and spiral. GA LE GRO UP.
Given ideal conditions, bacteria can reproduce
about every twenty minutes. That means one
bacterium could multiply to more than five billion
in about ten hours. If all bacteria really were to
reproduce this quickly, the world would soon be
overtaken with these microorganisms. Luckily, in
the real world, conditions are never ideal. Once
there are too many bacteria in one place their food
rod
runs out, they crowd each other, and eventually they
start dying.
Bacteria have a wide range of diets and living
spherical
conditions. Some bacteria eat other organisms.
Many of these feed off dead organisms, the waste
of other organisms, or get their food from living in
or on other organisms. Many of these bacteria
depend on such foods as sugars, proteins, and vitaspiral
mins. The bacteria in the human gut, for example,
get their food from digested food. Other bacteria
make their own food either from sunlight, like
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Bacteria

Bacteria that live in extreme


habitats, such as the boiling hot
geysers at Yellowstone National
Park, are called extremophiles.
# PAT O H AR A/C OR BI S.

plants, or from different chemicals in their environment. The chemicals these


bacteria use for foods are often unusual, such as iron and sulfur.
Scientists have found bacteria in practically every known locale and
environment. Until the late 1960s, it was thought that no organism could
survive in certain extreme environments, meaning environments that would
kill other creatures such as humans. Then a researcher discovered there were
bacteria living in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park, which reached
temperatures over 158F (70C). The bacteria that live in these extreme
habitats are called extremophiles. Since that time scientists have discovered
an increasing number of extremophiles. There are extremophiles that live in
sub-freezing temperatures under sheets of ice; thrive in highly acidic environments; and withstand blasts of radiation thousands of times greater than the
level that would kill a human.
Extremophiles are of great interest to both industry and basic research.
Researchers are interested in how these organisms survive. NASA is conducting experiments on extremophiles to investigate survival in outer space.
The biotechnology industry uses extremophiles to manufacture items, such
as detergents, diagnostics, and food products.
Building up resistance While most bacteria are harmless or helpful
to humans, there are a number of bacteria that do cause disease. Lyme
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WORDS TO KNOW
Antibiotic: A substance derived from certain
fungi, bacteria, and other organisms that
can destroy or inhibit the growth of other
microorganisms; widely used in the prevention
and treatment of infectious diseases.

Extremophiles: Bacteria that thrive in environments


too harsh to support most life forms.

Antibiotic resistance: The ability of microorganisms to change so that they are not killed by
antibiotics.

Germ theory of disease: The theory that disease is


caused by microorganisms or germs, and not by
spontaneous generation.

Bacteria: Single-celled microorganisms found in


soil, water, plants, and animals that play a key
role in the decay of organic matter and the
cycling of nutrients. Some are agents of disease.
(Singular: bacterium.)

Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that


can be tested by observation and/or experiment.

Colony: A visible growth of microorganisms,


containing millions of bacterial cells.
Control experiment: A setup that is identical to the
experiment, but is not affected by the variable
that acts on the experimental group.
Cytoplasm: The semifluid substance inside a
cell that surrounds the nucleus and other
membrane-enclosed organelles.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): Large, complex
molecules found in the nuclei of cells that carry
genetic information for an organisms
development.

Flagella: Whiplike structures used by some organisms for movement. (Singular: flagellum.)

Nucleus, cell: Membrane-enclosed structure within


a cell that contains the cells genetic material and
controls its growth and reproduction. (Plural:
nuclei.)
Organelle: A membrane-enclosed structure that
performs a specific function within a cell.
Pili: Short projections that assist bacteria in attaching to tissues.
Prokaryote: A cell without a true nucleus, such as a
bacterium.
Ribosome: A protein composed of two subunits
that functions in protein synthesis (creation).
Variable: Something that can affect the results of an
experiment.

disease, anthrax, tuberculosis, and salmonellosis are examples of diseases


caused by bacteria. Many bacterial diseases are deadly without treatment
and can cause widespread infections.
Antibiotics are substances that harm or kill bacteria. Erythromycin and
penicillin are examples of commonly used antibiotics. Discovered in the
1920s, these substances are produced naturally by a variety of organisms,
such as bacteria themselves and fungi. The production and use of antibiotics has dramatically reduced the number of deaths and illnesses from
bacterial disease.
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What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the size of the paper disks
the growth substance
the temperature of the bacterias
environment
the substance placed on the bacteria
the type of bacteria
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the zone of
inhibition. If you change more than one variable
at a time, you will not be able to tell which
variable impacted bacterial growth.

In the modern day, people are facing the


growing public-health problem of antibiotic
resistance. This is when disease-causing bacteria
have become resistant to an antibiotic, thereby
lessening the effectiveness of the drug. Resistance
can occur when a single bacterium acquires the
genetic ability to resist, or block, the antibiotic.
This one bacterium will rapidly reproduce and
produce an antibiotic-resistant population. An
overexposure to an antibiotic is one way bacteria
can acquire resistance. The antibiotic will kill the
weak bacteria and allow the stronger, resistant
ones to survive. Patients who are prescribed antibiotics but do not take the full dosage can also
contribute to resistance. If all the bacteria are not
killed, the strong, resistant bacteria that live can
pass on resistance to the next generation.

EXPERIMENT 1
Bacterial Growth: How do certain substances
inhibit or promote bacterial growth?
Purpose/Hypothesis There are many kinds of bacteria, but a great many

of the bacteria that you encounter daily share similar growth


requirements.
In this experiment you will investigate substances that affect the growth
of common household bacteria. You will collect a sample of bacteria from
one of numerous possible sources. You can use your imagination on where
to collect the bacteria. Because bacteria need moisture to live, possible
sources include the base of a faucet, on someones hands, inside someones
cheek, or on a bathroom doorknob. You will then streak the bacteria on a
growth substance. Bacteria grow well on a substance called agar. Nutrient
agar is a jellylike substance that contains food for the bacteria. You can order
prepared nutrient agar in a petri dish.
You will use paper disks to place the substances on a section of the
bacteria. You can use the suggested liquids or select different ones. Saturate
each paper disk with the item to be tested, and place the disk on the bacteria.
After giving the bacteria time to grow, you will measure the diameter of the
clear area around the paper disk where the bacteria did not grow. This area is
called the zone of inhibition. If there is a large zone of inhibition, the
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substance inhibits bacteria growth. If there is no


clear zone of inhibition, the substance does not
inhibit bacterial growth. If there is a larger amount
of bacteria around and under the disk than when
you started, the substance promotes growth.
In this experiment, you will be using more than
one type of bacteria. Different types of bacteria often
live together. When you collect your sample, you
will probably gather more than one type. The
experiment will still be valid because bacteria that
grow together naturally usually do so because they
respond the same way to their environmentsomething that promotes growth for one of them will be
good for all of them, and something that inhibits
growth for one will be bad for all.
Before you begin, make an educated guess
about the outcome of this experiment based on
your knowledge of bacteria. This educated guess,
or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis
should explain these things:

How to Experiment Safely


When working with bacteria, you should
consider the bacteria capable of causing disease
and follow the appropriate safety procedures.
Handle the cultures carefully. If there is a spill,
wipe up the material using a disinfectant-soaked
paper towel, then throw the towel away
immediately. Throw away or sterilize all items
that touch the bacteria.
Always wash your hands after using live
materials. Thoroughly wipe your working area
with a disinfectant cleansing agent after you
have finished with the setup. Keep your plate
closed and store it in a safe area that will not be
disturbed. Keep younger children away from the
experiment area.
Be careful when working with the hot water.

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through further investigation. Your experiment
will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one
possible hypothesis for this experiment: The acidic and cleaning substances
will inhibit bacterial growth; the protein and sugary substances will promote
bacterial growth.
In this case, the variable you will change is the substance you place on
the bacteria. The variable you will measure is the distance from the disk to
the bacterial growth.
Conducting a control experiment will help you isolate each variable
and measure the changes in the dependent variable. Only one variable will
change between the control and the experimental bacterial growth. The
control experiment will have no substance on the paper disk. At the end of
the experiment, you will compare the growth of the control bacteria with
the experimental bacteria.
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Level of Difficulty Medium to Difficult.


Materials Needed

rubbing alcohol
small cup
tweezers
paper hole puncher
white nonglossy paper
cotton swab
nutrient agar plates* (available from a
biological supply company)
bacteria source
test substances: chicken broth (can be
made from bouillon), coffee, lemon juice,
syrup, vinegar, liquid soap
distilled water

Step 5: Spread the bacteria over


the entire plate. GA LE GRO UP.

Step 11: Lift the petri lid just


high enough to place the paper
disk into its marked section.
GAL E GR OU P.

5 small cups or plates


marking pen
filter paper
ruler, with millimeters
magnifying glass (optional)
microscope (optional)
Depending on how many bacteria experiments you
plan to conduct, you may consider less expensive
options than that of purchasing ready-made
nutrient agar plates. You can order the nutrient
agar and plates separately and pour the agar into
the plates yourself. You can also order nutrient agar
that needs to be made. This process may take some
practice so allow yourself extra time. There are also
recipes for agar using common household items.
Gelatin is also an alternative for nutrient agar. Look
on the Internet for these recipes or ask your science
teacher. Allow extra time for this process, as you
may have to experiment with what recipe best
promotes bacterial growth.
Approximate Budget3 $25.

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Timetable One hour setup and followup; two

days waiting.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Turn the covered petri dish upside down.


Use the marker to divide the dish into six
even sections, like a pie. On each section
write the name of one of the five substances.
Write Control on the sixth section.
2. Write the date on the side of the dish.
3. Dip a cotton swab in distilled water.
4. Run the swab over the source of bacteria.
0 cm
5. Spread the bacteria over the entire plate.
Hold the swab flat or at a slight angle so
as not to puncture the agar.
6. Cover the plate and throw the swab away.
7. Use a hole puncher to make at least five
paper disks.
8. Sterilize the tweezers: Pour rubbing alcohol into a small cup to
cover the bottom. Hold or place the end of the tweezers into the
alcohol and wait at least one minute. Rinse in water and shake any
excess off the tweezers.
9. Pour several drops of each of the substances you are to test into its
own cup or small plate.
10. Pick up a paper disk with the tweezers and dip it into one of the
liquids. The disk should be wet but not dripping.
11. Lift the petri lid just high enough to place the paper disk into the
middle of its marked section.
12. Hold the tweezers under running water for at least five seconds to
clean.
13. Continue wetting each paper disk in the liquid, and placing the
disk in its allotted section. Rinse the tweezers in hot water between
each paper disk.
14. With clean tweezers, put a plain paper disk in the Control section.
15. Invert or turn the plate upside down. (Condensation may collect on
the top lid. Turning the plates upside down prevents the condensation from falling on the bacteria and allows a clear view of growth.)
16. Store the plate in a warm, nonbright area for 24 hours.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Step 19: Measure the diameter


of the zone of inhibition, in
millimeters, from the left edge
of the clear area to the right
edge. G AL E GR OUP .

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Troubleshooters Guide
Below are some problems that may arise during
this experiment, some possible causes, and
some ways to remedy the problems.
Problem: Bacteria grew in some areas of the
plate but not in others.
Possible cause: You may not have streaked the
entire plate with the bacteria. Repeat the
experiment, spreading the bacteria around so
that the entire plate is covered with the
microorganism.
Problem: There was no growth.
Possible cause: You may have stored the plate
in an environment that harmed the bacteria or
caused it not to grow, such as if it was too
cold. Repeat the experiment, storing the plate
in a warm environment.
Possible cause: You may not have picked up
enough bacteria on the swab. Make sure the
cotton swab is wet and repeat the experiment, using the same or a different source for
the bacteria.
Problem: My results were not as expected.
Possible cause: You may not have rinsed off the
tweezers thoroughly after touching each
paper disk, mixing together some of the substances on a disk. Repeat the experiment,
making sure to rinse the tweezers in the hot
water after each disk is complete.

94

17. Check the plate for growth. If there is little


to no growth, wait another 24 hours.
18. Observe each section for zones of inhibition, the clear area around the disk in
which bacteria have not grown.
19. Measure the diameter of the zone of
inhibition, in millimeters, from the left
edge of the clear area to the right edge.
Repeat this step for all 6 substances.
20. Record the measurements in a data chart.
Note also if there is no zone of inhibition,
or if there is increased growth compared
to that of the Control.
21. When you have completed the summary,
throw away the agar plate.
Summary of Results Create a graph illustrating

the data chart. Make sure you label the graph


carefully. Can you tell if the bacteria grew more
in certain substances than in others? What substances inhibited bacterial growth the greatest
amount? Were there any substances that promoted bacterial growth?
Compare each substance to the control
experiment. Examine the differences between the
growth in the Control section and growth in any
substances that were not inhibited by the substance. Analyze the main ingredient in each of
your substances that may have inhibited or promoted growth,

Change the Variables You can vary this experiment in several ways:
Change the substance on the paper disks
Use one substance and change the concentration of that substance
Alter the growing temperature of the bacteria
Isolate one type of bacteria before you begin the experiment (the
easiest way is to purchase a single type of bacteria from a biological
supply company; you could also streak a bacteria mix onto an agar
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Bacteria

plate to thin out the population until a


bacteria of one color and shape grow).
Grow the bacteria under different lighting conditions

EXPERIMENT 2
Bacterial Resistance: Can
bacteria gain resistance to a
substance after exposure?
Purpose/Hypothesis Antibiotic resistance is a

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the concentration of soap
the type of bacteria
the type of soap
the environmental conditions of each
plate

In other words, the variables in this experiment


growing health problem around the world. In
are everything that might affect the zone of
this experiment, you will explore bacterial resistinhibition. If you change more than one variable
ance by experimenting with bacteria and antiat a time, you will not be able to tell which
bacterial soap.
variable impacted bacterial growth.
Ever since the mid 1990s, soap manufacturers have put antibacterial agents in their products, such as body washes, toothpaste, and hand
soaps. The number of antibacterial soaps has increased over the years. In
modern day, the majority of soaps carry some antibacterial agent. Researchers have theorized that bacteria may develop a resistance to antibacterial
agents over time. If the bacteria develop a resistance to the agent, the agent
will no longer be effective in slowing down their growth or killing them.
In this experiment, you will collect a sample of bacteria and spread it on a
growth substance. Bacteria grow well on a substance called agar. Nutrient
agar is a jellylike substance that contains food for the bacteria. You can order
prepared nutrient agar in a petri dish. On top of the nutrient agar you will
spread a low concentration of antibacterial soap. The bacteria that survive this
concentration of soap will be introduced to a higher concentration of soap.
You will continue this process for five growth cycles. After the last plate of
bacteria has grown, you can compare the surviving bacteria with the bacteria
that have had no exposure to antibacterial soap. You will measure the
bacterial growth by counting the number of colonies.
The concentrations of soap provided in this experiments are guidelines.
The type of soap you use and the bacteria you collect will influence how
bacteria respond to the different concentrations. If you want to determine
the concentration that would best suit your materials, read the Troubleshooters Guide before you begin.
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Bacteria

How to Experiment Safely


When working with bacteria, you should
consider the bacteria capable of causing disease
and follow the appropriate safety procedures.
Handle the cultures carefully. If there is a spill,
wipe up the material using a disinfectant-soaked
paper towel, then throw the towel away
immediately. Throw away or sterilize all items
that touch the bacteria.
Always wash your hands after using live materials.
Thoroughly wipe your working area with a disinfectant cleansing agent after you have finished
with the setup. Keep your plate closed and store it
in a safe area that will not be disturbed. Keep
younger children away from the experiment area.

In this experiment, you will be using more than


one type of bacteria. Different types of bacteria live
together. When you gather a swab of bacteria you
have gathered a number of different populations. To
draw conclusions about a single type of bacteria, you
can order one from a biological supply house.
Before you begin, make an educated guess
about the outcome of this experiment based on
your knowledge of bacteria and resistance. This
educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis.
A hypothesis should explain these things:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
through further investigation. Your experiment will prove or disprove whether
your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment:
Bacteria that are exposed to an increasingly greater concentration of soap will
survive a concentration that will kill unexposed bacteria.
In this case, the variable you will change is the concentration of the soap.
The variable you will measure is the number of bacteria colonies that grow.
Conducting a control experiment will help you isolate each variable and
measure the changes in the dependent variable. Only one variable will change
between the control and the experimental bacterial growth. Each phase of this
experiment will have a control. The control bacteria will grow on nutrient agar
with no soap. At each phase of the experiment, you should compare the
growth of the control bacteria with the experimental bacteria.
Level of Difficulty Difficult.
Materials Needed

cotton swabs
6 (at least) nutrient agar plates* (available from a biological supply
company)
antibacterial liquid soap
measuring cups
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measuring spoons
5 containers with covers
stirring spoons
marking pen
magnifying glass (optional)
microscope (optional)

*Depending on how many bacteria experiments


you plan on conducting, you may consider less
expensive options than that of purchasing readymade nutrient agar plates. You can order the
nutrient agar and plates separately and pour the
agar into the plates yourself. You can also order
nutrient agar that needs to be made. This process
may take some practice so allow yourself extra
time. There are also recipes for agar using common
household items. Gelatin is also an alternative for
nutrient agar. Look on the Internet for these recipes
or ask your science teacher. Allow extra time for
this process, as you may have to experiment with
what recipe best promotes bacterial growth.

Plate 1
.0001%

control

Plate 2
.001%
control

Plate 3
.01%
control

Plate 4

.1%

control

Plate 5
1%

Plate 6

control

Approximate Budget $20.


Timetable One hour and 30 minutes working time; six days waiting time.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1%

control

Experiment 2 setup. Plate


progression: Bacteria exposed to
soap move to increasingly
higher concentrations; the
control bacteria are never
exposed to soap. GAL E GR OU P.

1. Turn the covered petri dish upside down and use a pen to divide the
plate in half. Mark the left half .0001% and the right half Control. Write the date on the side of the dish.
2. Make up the concentrations by first mixing a 1% concentration of
soap water. Stir 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of liquid soap with 2 cups
and 4 teaspoons (500 milliliters) of water. Mix thoroughly, cover, and
label 1%.
3. To make a .1% concentration: Measure 1 teaspoon of the 1%
solution and add to a clean container. Mix in 9 teaspoons of water.
Mix thoroughly, cover, and label 1%.
4. To make a .01percent concentration: Measure 1 teaspoon of the .1%
solution and add to another clean container. Mix in 9 teaspoons of
water. Mix thoroughly, cover, and label .01%.
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Bacteria

5. To make a .001% concentration: Measure 1 teaspoon of the .01%


solution and add to another clean container. Mix in 9 teaspoons of
water. Mix thoroughly, cover, and label .001%.
6. To make a .0001% concentration: Measure 1 teaspoon of the
.001% solution and add to another clean container. Mix in 9
teaspoons of water. Mix thoroughly, cover, and label .0001%.
7. Use a fresh cotton swab to spread the .0001% solution over the agar
that is marked .0001%. Keep the swab flat or at a slight angle so as
not to puncture the agar.
8. Dip a cotton swab in distilled water.
9. Run the swab over a source of bacteria and spread the bacteria over
the agar in the soap half of the dish.
10. Get a new cotton swab. Use the same source of bacteria and spread
the bacteria over the Control half of the dish.
11. Place the lid on Plate 1 and turn it upside down. Store it in a warm
temperature for 24 hours. (If there is little to no growth on both the
Control and soap sides, let sit another 24 hours.)
12. Repeat Step 1 with Plate 2, marking the left half .001%.
13. With a fresh cotton swab, collect bacteria from the soap water side of
Plate 1 and spread it on the half of the agar marked .001% in
Plate 2.
14. Use a fresh cotton swab to collect bacteria from the Control side of
Plate 1 and spread it on the half of the agar marked Control in Plate
2. Throw Plate 1 away. Place the lid on Plate 2 and turn it upside
down. Store in a warm temperature for 24 hours.
15. Repeat this process for the .01% (Plate 3) and .1% (Plate 4),
waiting 24 hours or longer between new plates.
16. Have ready Plate 5 and Plate 6. After dividing the plates, mark the
left-hand side of both plates 1%.
17. Use a cotton swab to collect bacteria from the .1% side of Plate 4
and spread it on the 1% half of Plate 5.
18. With a new swab, collect some of the Control bacteria from Plate 4
and spread it on the Control on Plate 5, the Control for Plate 6, and
the 1% on Plate 6. This bacteria has had no exposure to any soap.
19. Place lids on Plates 5 and 6 and turn them upside down. Store in a
warm temperature for 24 hours.
20. Count the colonies on the 1% solution on both Plate 5 and Plate 6.
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Summary of Results Examine your data. How do

the bacterial growths on Plates 5 and 6 compare


with each other? Was your hypothesis correct?
Write a description of the bacteria on both plates.
If you have a magnifying glass or microscope you
could take a closeup look at the bacteria. What
was the main difference between the bacteria
spread on both plates? Write a summary of the
experiment that explains each step in the process
and the reason for it.
Change the Variables There are several variables

you can change in this experiment to provide new


data:
Change the brand or type of soap, to a
nonantibacterial soap, for instance, or to
an antibacterial soap that has a different
main ingredient
Use a cleansing agent instead of soap
Alter the growing temperature of the
bacteria
Use one type of bacteria by isolating one
type before you begin the experiment (the
easiest way is to purchase a single type of
bacteria from a biological supply company;
you could also streak a bacteria mix onto an
agar plate to thin out the population until a
bacteria of one color and shape grow)
Use a mixture of different bacteria by
collecting it from another source

Troubleshooters Guide
Below are some problems that may arise during
this experiment, some possible causes, and some
ways to remedy the problems.
Problem: There was no difference in the amount
of growth between the bacteria on Plates 5
and 6.
Possible cause: The soap that you used may
need a higher concentration than 1% to
inhibit bacterial growth. Spread varying
concentrations of the soap on nutrient agar
plates and grow bacteria on each concentration. When you have determined the
concentration that kills most of the bacteria,
use that figure as the end concentration that
will go on Plates 5 and 6. Dilute that concentration one thousand fold and repeat the
experiment, increasing the concentration by
tenfold each growth period.
Problem: At one point there was no growth on
a plate.
Possible cause: You may have stored the plate
in an environment that harmed the bacteria
or caused it not to grow, such as if it was too
cold. Continue the experiment at the last
plate with growth, storing the plate in a
warm environment.

Modify the Experiment This experiment requires numerous steps and

careful measuring. For a simpler variation that also explores antibacterial


soaps and bacteria you can compare how antibacterial and non-antibacterial
soaps affect bacteria. Make a hypothesis on whether antibacterial soap will
get rid of the amount of bacteria more, less, or the same as the nonantibacterial counterpart.
You will need an antibiotic and non-antibiotic soap that are the same
brand and type (such as liquid or a bar), cotton swabs, and three nutrient
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Bacteria

agar plates (or other growth medium). You can use your fingers for a source
of bacteria so find a time right before your hands are ready to be washed.
Gently rub a cotton swab down the side of one finger and spread the swab
over the agar in a plate labeled Control. Wash one of your fingers with
bacterial soap, rinse and allow your finger to dry. Make sure you dont rub
your finger against your clothes or other item where bacteria may live. Rub a
swab along your finger and spread this swab over the agar in a plate labeled
Antibacterial. Wash a third finger with non-antibacterial, plain soap.
Rinse, dry, swab, and spread the swab to a Plain Soap agar plate. Cover
and place all three plates in a warm area.
After several days examine the three plates for bacteria. How does the
control compare to the soap plates? If there is no growth on the control,
your fingers may have been too clean! Do the two plates from the different
soaps contain about the same amount of bacteria? Was your hypothesis
correct? Consider when using antibacterial soap might or might not be a
good idea. You may want to allow the plates to sit for several more days to
observe bacteria growth.

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept There are thousands of

species of bacteria living and growing around you, in you, and on you. For
a project, you could examine the differences among different types of
bacteria. You could also examine bacterias growth requirements, or how
bacteria have impacted life on Earth.
Check the Further Readings section and talk with your biology teacher to
learn more about bacteria. You could also try to get access to a microscope so
that you can look at the bacteria in more detail.
Steps in the Scientific Method To conduct an original experiment, you
need to plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might
not be sure what question you are answering, what you are or should be
measuring, or what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:

State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe


experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
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State your hypothesis, an educated guess


about the answer to your question.
Decide how to change the variable you
selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results In

any experiment you conduct, you should look for


ways to clearly convey your data. You can do this
by including charts and graphs for the experiments. They should be clearly labeled and easy
to read. You may also want to include photographs and drawings of your experimental setup and results, which will
help others visualize the steps in the experiment. You might decide to
conduct an experiment that lasts several months. In this case, include
pictures or drawings of the results taken at regular intervals.
If you are preparing an exhibit, you may want to display your results,
such as any experimental setup you designed. If you have completed a
nonexperimental project, explain clearly what your research question was
and illustrate your findings.

A decomposing house plant is a


common example of bacteria at
work. Many bacteria live in soil
and decompose dead plants,
returning needed nutrients
back into the environment.
# KE LL Y A. QUI N.

Related Projects Bacteria are in and around people every day, opening the

door to many projects that are interesting and inexpensive. You could
experiment with different growth mediums, making your own or adding
variables to one medium. You could explore bacterias role in the life
cycle, conducting a project with plants and bacteria. You could look at
how different plants use bacteria. Other bacteria roles you could look at
are in the soil and natural water sources. People and animals also house
thousands of different bacteria. You could try to isolate some types of
bacteria and determine their role and growing requirements.
You can also examine peoples use of bacteria. Foods make use of
these microorganisms natural role. You could also examine how bacteria
cause foods to spoil. Bacteria are the key to making cheeses. Yogurt and
buttermilk are made from the bacteria in milk. You could experiment
with using bacteria to grow yogurt. In biotechnology, people use bacteria
to produce medicines, improve cleaning products, and make proteins.
You could conduct a research project on how extremophiles and other
more common types of bacteria are used.
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Bacteria

For More Information


American Museum of Natural History. The Microbe Size O Meter. Meet the
Microbes! http://www.amnh.org/nationalcenter/infection/01 mic/01d size01.
html (accessed on March 2, 2008). A look at the sizes of bacteria relative to
familiar objects.
American Society of Microbiologists. Meet the Microbes. http://www.
microbeworld.org/microbes (accessed on March 2, 2008). Clear information on
bacteria and other microorganisms, and the people who study them.
The Germ Theory of Disease. Timeline Science. http://www.
timelinescience.org/resource/students/pencilin/pencilin.htm (accessed on
March 2, 2008). A brief history of the many people and events that led to
understand microorganisms and disease.
Microbiology. Cells alive! http://www.cellsalive.com/toc micro.htm (accessed
on March 2, 2008). Interactive animations, articles, and real time bacteria
growing.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Bad Bug Book: Foodborne
Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook. Center for Food
Safety & Applied Nutrition. http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/mow/intro.html
(accessed on March 2, 2008). Detailed information on microbes that can
contaminate food and cause diseases.

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Biomes

f you have ever hiked in a forest or driven through a desert, what you saw was
a biome. Biomes are large geographical areas with specific climates and soils,
as well as distinct plant and animal communities that are all interdependent.
Most biomes are on land. Our oceans make up a single biome. Besides
temperate forest and desert, the major land biomes include tundra, taiga
(pronounced TIE-gah), temperate deciduous (pronounced deh-SID-youus) forest, tropical rainforest, and grassland. To understand how biomes
work, let us look at some of them.

Into the woods Maybe you have hiked in a taiga biome, the biome that
receives the most snow. Unlike its neighboring biome, the tundra, which is
treeless and characterized by low-lying plants, the taiga is sometimes called the
boreal (pronounced BORE-e-al) coniferous (pronounced CONE-if-er-us)
forest and is probably the largest of all the land biomes. The taiga biome
extends across the northern parts of North America, Asia, and Europe. It is
dominated by coniferous, or cone-bearing, trees such as pine, spruce, larch, and
fir. These trees resist cold, which is a good thing, because temperatures have
been recorded as low as90F (67C) and reach an average of only 59F
(15C). The tree roots do not penetrate deeply and tend to interconnect with
other tree roots around them. Each tree is basically held down by its neighbors
on all sides.
Trees in the taiga biome survive in soil that is frozen for most of the
year. Soil moisture comes from melted snow and summer rains, but
during the winter, the cold temperatures make water absorption difficult
because the ground is frozen. So these trees have built-in adapters to help
them survive. For example, spruce and fir trees have long, thin, waxcovered needles. The waxy surface acts as an insulator, helping them
retain water and heat. Snow slides off more easily, avoiding branch
breakage. These needles conduct photosynthesis so efficiently that they
can make food even during winter, when the Suns rays are weaker.
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Biomes

Pine, spruce, and fir trees form


part of the taiga biome. PH OT O
RE SEA RC HE RS I NC.

Trees are not the only inhabitants of this


biome. About 50 species of insects, including
mites, live here. Moose, snowshoe hares, deer,
and elk make their home in the taiga as well as
wolves, porcupines, lynxes, and martens, who
roam the taiga during the summer. Seeds from
the cones of the trees are food for red squirrels and
for birds such as crossbills and siskins.
Life in the desertwith air conditioning
If you drive through a desert, do you see much
life from your car window? Do not be fooled.
There is more living here than just cactus plants. Desert biomes are on
every major continent and cover more than a fifth of Earths surface.
While these biomes receive less than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rainfall
a year, with temperatures that range from 75F (23C) to 91F (32C),
desert plants and animals thrive here. Deserts can usually be found in the
centers of continents and in the rain shadows of mountains.
Lizards, snakes, and other animals pop up at sundown when the soil is
cool, then wriggle back into their habitats when the temperature becomes too
chilly. They can reappear again at dawn, remaining until the temperature
gets too hot. Some of the rodents and other animals that burrow under the
soil actually enjoy a kind of underground air-conditioning. They form
elaborate tunnels where the Suns heat cannot penetrate. And moisture
from the animals exhaled breath cools the air and makes their burrows a

Low-growing bushes in
Monument Valley are part of
this biomes vegetation. PHO TO
R ES EAR CH ER S IN C.

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comfortable 85F (29C). Kangaroo rats in the American Southwest and the
gerbils of North African and Asiatic deserts choose foods that reduce the
amount of water needed for digestion. These rodents can actually absorb
water from their urine before excreting wastes.
Many desert plants are xerophytes (pronounced ZERO-fights), plants
that require little water to survive. There are also ephemerals (pronounced ehFEM-er-als), plants that can suspend their life processes for years when the soil
becomes too dry. When major rainstorms occur, they burst into life. Succulents are another type of plant. They retain water in thick fleshy tissues. Birds
use the giant saguaro (pronounced sah-GWA-ro; from the Spanish word for
the Pima Native American name of this plant) cactus, a succulent plant that
grows 50 feet (15 m) high, as nesting and resting areas in place of trees.
The saguaro cactus is a good example of the interdependence that takes
place in a biome. Red-tailed hawks use the branches to nest. Hollowed-out
trunk and arm spaces are a home for elf owls and gila woodpeckers. The
cactus fruits are eaten by rodents, birds, and bats.
Why save the rainforests? Many people are concerned about saving
rainforests because these biomes contain a large number of unique plants.
Several acres of rainforest in Borneo may contain 700 different species of trees.
More than 50,000 plant species make their home in the rainforests of the
Amazon Basin in South America. Up to 80 different species of plant life might
grow on one tree. Tropical rainforests are found only in regions north of the

Heat and humidity helped form


this lush Costa Rican rainforest.
PH OTO RE SEA RC HER S I NC.

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Biomes

WORDS TO KNOW
Biomes: Large geographical areas with specific
climates and soils, as well as distinct plant and
animal communities that are interdependent.
Boreal: Northern.
Coniferous: Refers to trees, such as pines and firs,
that bear cones and have needle-like leaves that
are not shed all at once.
Deciduous: Plants that lose their leaves during some
season of the year, and then grow them back
during another season.
Desert: A biome with a hot-to-cool climate and dry
weather.
Desertification: Transformation of arid or semiarid
productive land into desert.

Fungus (fungi): Various single-celled or multicellular organisms, including mushrooms, molds,


yeasts, and mildews, that do not contain
chlorophyll.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement
that can be tested by observation and/or
experiment.
Succulent: Plants that live in dry environments and
have water storage tissue.
Taiga: A large land biome mostly dominated by
coniferous trees.
Temperate: Mild or moderate weather conditions.
Tundra: A treeless, frozen biome with low-lying
plants.

Ecosystem: An ecological community, including


plants, animals and microorganisms, considered
together with their enviroment.

Variable: Something that can affect the results of


an experiment.

Ephemerals: Plants that lie dormant in dry soil for


years until major rainstorms occur.

Xerophytes: Plants that require little water to


survive.

Materials for Project 1. GA LE


GR OU P.

106

equator on the Tropic of Cancer and south of the equator in the Tropic of
Capricorn. Destroying the rainforests reduces the diversity of life on Earth.
If you have ever been in a steamy greenhouse,
then you can imagine what a rainforest is like.
Warm temperatures average 75F (23C) and
humidity peaks at a dripping 90% for days at a
time. This climate encourages an explosion of plant
life that supports many different animals. Some
scientists estimate that half the living species on
Earth live in the rainforests.
Constructing your own mini-biome will
help you understand some of the major factors
that influence these important areas of life and
can cause them to survive or fail.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Biomes

PROJECT 1
Building a Temperate
Forest Biome
Purpose/Hypothesis Biomes are strongly influ-

How to Experiment Safely


Ask for assistance when carrying and lifting
the fish tank. Do not leave the light fixture
on for more than 10 hours at a time.

enced by the climate and soil type in a particular


region. These same factors determine the success
of a mini-biome model. In this project, you will
attempt to build, grow, and maintain a temperate forest biome. This
particular biome is characterized by a temperature range of 32 to 68F
(0 to 20C). It has an annual precipitation of 20 to 95 inches (50 to 240
cm) and a fairly deep soil layer. The purpose of this project is to try to
maintain the correct climate, soil, and vegetation in the temperate forest
biome.

Level of Difficulty Moderate. (This project requires continuous tending and

attention to maintain a proper climate.)


Materials Needed

l0-gallon fish tank (plastic, if possible, for safety)


indoor/outdoor thermometer
watering container
gravel
sand
topsoil
incandescent light fixture with a 40-watt bulb (optional)
plants and/or seeds (choose oak, maple, sassafras, hickory, tulip
trees, sweet gum, dogwood)

Maple and oak leaves, examples


of deciduous trees. GA LE
GRO UP .

Note: Choose all deciduous trees. Seeds may


be hard to grow unless they have been chilled.
If you use trees, they should be very small
saplings.
Approximate Budget $25. (Try to use an old fish

tank if possible.)
Timetable One hour to set up the project and at

least six months to maintain the trees and observe


changes.
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Biomes

Step-by-Step Instructions

Troubleshooters Guide

1. l. Place a 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) layer of


gravel on the bottom of the fish tank.
When you are building a natural environment,
2. Place a 1-inch (2.5- centimeter) layer of
many forces of nature can affect the experisand over the gravel.
ment. These include fungus, insects, and too
3. Mix 2 parts of topsoil to 1 part of sand. Place
much or too little water. Here are some
a 2- to 3-inch (5- to 7.5- centimeter) layer of
common problems and a few tips to maintain
the sand/topsoil mixture over the sand layer.
the best environment.
4.
Plant four to six trees. Be sure to cover all the
Mushrooms, a kind of fungus, may grow.
roots. If seeds are being used, place them
Water less, but never allow the soil to dry
1 inch (2.5 cm) down in the soil and allow
completely.
one month for them to sprout.
Pests such as insects and spiders may
make this biome their home. If they are
5. Place the thermometer inside the terraeating the plants, remove the pests. If
rium against the back wall.
not, keep them. They are performing
6. Water gently until approximately 0.25
their natural role in the ecosystem. Their
inch (0.6 centimeter) of water has accupresence is a sign of a healthy biome.
mulated in the gravel layer.
Drastic temperature changes overnight
7.
Place the fish tank outside or in a sunny
can kill the plants. Do your best to mainplace indoors. You must maintain the temtain an acceptable climate in the fish
perature of the fish tank in the range of 32
tank. You may have to move it inside or
place it in a shady spot outside, protected
to 60F (0 to 15C). If you need to provide
from too much rain.
artificial light, place the incandescent fixture above the fish tank and provide five to
10 hours of light per day.
8. Check the project daily, and maintain 0.25 inch (0.6 centimeter)
of water in the gravel.
Steps 1 to 5: Set-up for fish tank
9. Record the growth of the plants and the temperature range.
with plants and overhead light.
GA LE GRO UP.

Summary of Results Graph the data you have


collected over the six-month period. The overall
growth of the plants will demonstrate the health
of the biome environment.

PROJECT 2
Building a Desert Biome
Purpose/Hypothesis In this project, you will

build, grow, and maintain a desert biome. The


desert biome is characterized mainly by its lack of
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Biomes

water, which causes harsh growing conditions.


Maintaining the right climate, soil, and vegetation
is the goal. This particular biome is characterized
by a temperature range of 23 to 60F (6 to 30C).
Level of Difficulty Moderate to difficult because

How to Experiment Safely


Ask for assistance when moving the fish tank.
Do not leave the light fixture on for more than
10 hours at a time, as it will get too hot.

of the length of time needed for the project.


Materials Needed

10-gallon fish tank


indoor/outdoor thermometer
watering container
gravel
sand
topsoil
incandescent light with 60-watt bulb
succulent plants, such as jade plant, strawberry cactus, barrel
cactus, etc.

Note: Most plants are easily found in local nursery stores selling
houseplants.
Approximate Budget $25. (Try to get an old fish tank to use.)
Timetable One hour to set up the project and at least six months to

maintain the plants and observe changes.


Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Place a 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) layer of


gravel in the bottom of the fish tank.
2. Mix 1 to 2 cups of topsoil with 6 to 10
cups of sand. Place this mixture over the
gravel layer.
3. Place 2 inches (5 centimeter) of sand over
the sand/topsoil layer.
4. Plant the cactus and succulents in the fish
tank and cover the roots completely.
5. Place the thermometer inside the fish
tank, against the back wall.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Strawberry and barrel cactuses.


GA LE G RO UP.

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Biomes

Troubleshooters Guide
In this model, climate conditions are designed to
be extreme. The plants have special adaptations
to adjust. If insects become a problem, remove
them.

6. Water sparingly. Pour 2 cups of water on


the sand to start. Water the fish tank with
1 cup of water every week after that.
7. Place the light fixture above the fish tank
and leave it on for eight to 10 hours a day.
8. Check the fish tank daily. Record any
differences in the plants growth and in
the temperature range.
Summary of Results Graph the data you collected

during the project, as illustrated in the Desert Biome Growth Chart. You will
notice very little change, as the plants have a very slow growth cycle.
Modify the Experiment For a more in depth understanding of desert

biomes, you can further investigate how organisms have adapted to life in
the desert. In Project 2 you constructed a desert biome, concentrating on
the physical features of a desert. Now you can measure one way in which
desert plants have adapted to their environment.
Cacti have many adaptations that help them collect and store water. Do
you think if cacti were given the same amount of water as a leafy, temperate
forest plant it would release the same amount of water? Begin the experiment
in the morning. Collect one of the leafy plants you used in the temperate
biome project and one cacti from the desert biome. Both should be healthy,

Steps 1 to 5: Set-up for fish tank


with cactus, light, thermometer,
and sand and gravel layers.
GAL E GR OU P.

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Biomes

Desert Biome Growth Chart.


GA LE G RO UP.

growing in a pot. Gently place a small baggie over the top of the cactus and
tie with a twisty-tie or string. Tie a small baggie over the leaf of the temperate
plant. Pour one-quarter cup of water in each pot. If the plants are large, you
may want to use more water. The exact amount does not matter, as long as it
is the same for both plants. Place both plants in the sun or under a plant light.
At the end of the day, examine the bags. Are there droplets of water in
one bag and not the other? Take off the bags and replace them the next
morning (the plants need oxygen to live). Did you see the same thing at
the end of the second day? Examine the structure of the cactus compared
to the temperate plant. Where do you think it is storing water?

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept The fish tank projects are

models of what takes place in a biome. Many plants and animals have
specific adaptations that are suited to that biome or region. What happens
when you change the climate of a biome? How does the introduction of a
plant from a different biome affect the other plants? There are many
experiments you could design to investigate the interactions of plants and
animals with their biomes.
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Biomes

Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science teacher
or school or community media specialist to start gathering information on
biome questions that interest you.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original experiment, you need to
plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not be sure
what question you are answering, what you are or should be measuring, or
what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved, and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to
your question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results It is important to docu-

ment as much information as possible about your experiment. Part of


your presentation should be visual, using charts and graphs. Remember,
whether or not your experiment is successful, your conclusions and
experiences can benefit others.
Related Projects More specific projects can be performed to get more
detailed information about biomes. For instance, scientists are finding
that many rainforests are getting drier. Also, a phenomenon called
desertification has been occurring, turning naturally dry land into desert.
Try an experiment in desertification, reducing water to see what happens.

For More Information


Morrison, Marion. The Amazing Rain Forest and Its People. New York:
Thompson Learning, 1993. Provides a good summary of this ecological
community and how interdependency affects this biome.
Rainis, Kenneth. Environmental Science Projects for Young Scientists. New York:
Franklin Watts, 1994. Describes biome and related projects for young people.
Sayre, April Pulley. Taiga. New York: Twenty First Century Books, 1994. Explores
the taiga biome, its animals, plant life, the people who live there, and their impact.
University of California Museum of Paleontology. The worlds biomes.
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/exhibits/biomes/index.php (accessed on
January 18, 2008).
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Bones and Muscles

henever you run, sit, walk, or even stand, your bones and muscles are
working together in the activity. Bones are similar to the framework
of a building; they provide the shape and protection. Our bones also produce
our much-needed supply of daily blood cellsabout 200 billion a day! They
are the holding places for minerals and other key substances the body needs.
Many muscles are attached to bones and they pull the bones for movement. Other muscles provide much-needed functions for daily life. Even
when you are just sitting still, your muscles are at work. They are allowing
you to breath, swallow, smile, and even move your eyes. And it is a muscle
that powers your entire bodythe heart muscle. Working nonstop through
a persons life, this vital muscle beats an average of seventy times per minute.

Bones, bones, bones An adult body has about 206 bones. The
number varies from person to person because of differences in the number
of small bones. Some bones are responsible for movement, including bones
in the hands, feet, and limbs. Other bones primarily give protection to the
internal structures, such as the skull protecting the brain and the ribs
shielding the heart, lungs, and liver.
When looking at animal bones or at a skeleton, bones may appear to be
static and dead, but in the body they are actually full of activity. Bones grow
and change along with the person. They are made of living and nonliving
materials: About 70% of an adults bones are composed of minerals. The
remaining part is bone tissue, a group of similar cells with a common
function. Bone tissue is constantly building new bone. In fact, about every
seven years your bone tissue makes essentially a whole new skeleton.
Wherever two bones meet there is a joint. In some places, such as the
bones in the skull, the joints are locked together and do not move. Most
joints are movable, though, and are coated with a fluid that acts as a
lubricant. Ligaments are a tough connective tissue that links bones together
at the joints. Ligaments prevent the bones at the joints from becoming
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Bones and Muscles

dislocated. Cartilage is another connective tissue


found at the end of the bones and in the joints.
This is a smooth and flexible tissue that lets one
bone slide smoothly over another.
Hard and spongy Almost every bone in the
body is made of the same materials: The outside
of the bone is the hard layer that is strong. It is
made of living cells and is called compact or hard
bone. Holes and channels run through the compact bone, carrying blood vessels and nerves to its
inner parts. Inside this layer is cancellous bone or
spongy bone. Cancellous bone has cells with large
spaces in between them like a honeycomb. The
spaces in this network are filled with a jellylike
red-and-yellow bone marrow. Red bone marrow,
found mainly at the ends of bones, makes most of
our bodys blood cells. Red bone marrow also
produces white blood cells, which help fight
infection, and platelets, which help blood clot.
Yellow bone marrow stores fat and releases it
when it is needed somewhere in the body.

Full frontal view of a human


skeleton. PH OT O
RE SEA RC HE RS I NC.

Bones contain large amounts of a protein


called collagen as well as minerals, including calcium and phosphorous. Collagen gives bones their
elasticity. Calcium is what gives bones their
strength. Extra minerals are stored in the bone,
and the bones release them when they are needed
by other parts of the body. The amount of minerals that a person eats affects
how many minerals the bones contain and store.
As a person gets older, the amount of new bone created slows down and
bones break down at a faster rate than they are being made. Women
especially may lose the stored calcium in their bodies that helps keep their
bones strong and healthy. This causes the bones to become weak, which can
lead to breaks. The disease osteoporosis occurs most often among older
people. In osteoporosis bone tissue becomes brittle and thin. Bones break
easily, and the spine can begin to collapse. Building up adequate stores of
calcium in the bones as a young adult is one important way people can
prevent or delay the development of this disease.

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Muscular strength Bones are moved by


muscles attached to them. These muscles are
fastened to bones by a thin, tough tissue called
tendons, which also link muscles to other
muscles.
Muscles come in all shapes and sizes. The
human body has about 650 muscles, which
make up about 40% of a persons body weight.
Muscles are classified as voluntary or involuntary.
Voluntary muscles are those you can control at
will, such as moving your arm. Involuntary muscles act automatically, such
as your stomach muscles digesting food. Some muscles fit into both
categories, such as the muscle used in blinking your eyes.
Muscles are made of stacks of long, thin cells called muscle fibers. Each
muscle fiber is a single cell and contains at least one nucleus. The nucleus
(plural: nuclei) is an enclosed structure that contains the cells genetic material
and controls its growth and reproduction. There are three types of muscle
fibers: skeletal, smooth, and cardiac. Skeletal muscle fibers are attached to
bone and are voluntary muscles. They are the most abundant and largest of
the three, with some fibers running more than a foot long. Each skeletal
muscle fiber has several nuclei. Smooth muscle
fibers are involuntary, as in the stomach and intestines. They are smaller than the skeletal muscles
and are narrow at the ends, with one nucleus in
each cell. Cardiac muscles are found only in the
heart. These muscles have fibers that are tightly
packed together and have branches. A cardiac
muscle cell usually has a single nucleus.
When muscles go into action they work in
terms of contractions and relaxations. Muscles can
only pull bones because they can only contract, or
get shorter. They cannot push bones back into
their original position. Because of this, muscles
work in pairs. When one muscle contracts it can
bend a limb; then when that muscle is finished
contracting, its partner muscle contracts to extend
or straighten the limb. Whenever you bend your
arm, for example, the bicep muscle in the front
of the upper arm contracts. When the arm
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Cancellous (spongy) Bone


Yellow Marrow

Compact (hard) Bone


space containing
Red Marrow

Parts of the human bone. GA LE


GRO UP .

The three types of muscle fibers.


GAL E GR OU P.

Skeletal Muscle
Fiber
Muscle Cell

Smooth Muscle
Fiber

Nucleus

Cardiac Muscle
Fiber

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Bones and Muscles

straightens, the bicep relaxes and the tricep muscle


at the back of the upper arm contracts.
All the energy that muscles use is created
when muscle cells process the carbohydrates,
fats, and proteins in foods. Healthy muscles
burn nutrients efficiently. The amount a person
exercises and his or her general health will make
muscles work better and become less fatigued.
Muscle fatigue occurs when the muscle stops
contracting. When muscle cells run out of oxygen, they reach a point where the muscles have a
reduced ability to contract. When a person
builds his or her muscles, the muscle fibers
grow. This increases the blood flow in the fibers,
increasing their ability to contract.

EXPERIMENT 1
Bone Loss: How does the
loss of calcium affect bone
strength?

A humped back is a sign of


osteoporosis. Elderly women
especially are prone to
developing this disease.

Purpose/Hypothesis Your bones are lightweight


and incredibly strong. Bones get their strength
from a hard outer shell that contains the mineral calcium carbonate. The
calcium keeps the bone stiff and rigid. A strong acid can chemically react
with the bones and remove much of the calcium carbonate.

# LESTER V. BERGMAN/CORBIS.

Muscles work in pairs because


they can only contract. Here,
one contracts to bend the arm;
its partner muscle contracts to
straighten it. GAL E GR OU P.

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Biceps contracts

Triceps contracts

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WORDS TO KNOW
Bone joint: A place in the body where two or more
bones are connected.
Bone marrow: The spongy center of many bones
in which blood cells are manufactured.

Control experiment: A setup that is identical to the


experiment, but is not affected by the variable
that acts on the experimental group.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that
can be tested by observation and/or experiment.

Bone tissue: A group of similar cells in the bone


with a common function.

Ligaments: Tough, fibrous tissue connecting bones.

Cancellous bone: Also called spongy bone, the


inner layer of a bone that has cells with large
spaces in between them filled with marrow.

Muscle fibers: Stacks of long, thin cells that make


up muscle; there are three types of muscle fiber:
skeletal, cardiac, and smooth.

Cartilage: The connective tissue that covers and


protects the bones.

Nucleus, cell: Enclosed structure within a cell that


contains the cells genetic material and controls
its growth and reproduction. (Plural: nuclei.)

Collagen: A protein in bone that gives the bone


elasticity.
Compact bone: The outer, hard layer of the bone.
Contract: To shorten, pull together.

Tendon: Tough, fibrous connective tissue that


attaches muscle to bone.
Variable: Something that can affect the results of an
experiment.

In this experiment you will determine how the loss of calcium


carbonate affects the strength of bones. You will use vinegar as the
acid. The vinegar will react with three bones for varying lengths of
time. The longer the vinegar reacts with the bone, the more calcium the
vinegar will remove from the bone. How much you can bend the bone
will allow you determine the bones strength.
Before you begin, make an educated guess about the outcome of this
experiment based on your knowledge of bones and the mineral calcium.
This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should
explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
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Bones and Muscles

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
What Are the Variables?
through further investigation. Your experiment
will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is
Variables are anything that might affect the
correct. Here is one possible hypothesis for this
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
experiment: The more calcium a bone loses, the
weaker the bone will be and the more it will bend.
the type of bone you use
In this case, the variable you will change is the
the thickness of the bone
amount of time the bones react with the vinegar
the cleanliness of the bone
or acid. The variable you will measure is the
the solution the bone is soaked in
bones strength or how much the bone bends.
residue in the jars
Conducting a control experiment will help
the environment of the bones when they
you isolate each variable and measure the
are not soaking
changes in the dependent variable. Only one
In other words, the variables in this experiment
variable will change between the control and
are everything that might affect the vinegar
the experimental bones, and that is the solution
reacting with the bone. If you change more
that immerses the bones. For the control, you
than one variable at the same time, you will not
will soak a bone in plain water, which does not
be able to tell which variable had the most
effect on bone strength.
react with the bone. At the end of the experiment
you will compare the water-soaked bone with
each of the vinegar-soaked bones.
For your experiment you will select four bones of the same type that
are of equal thickness and general appearance. You will soak three of the
bones in vinegar and one of the bones in water. Every four days you will
remove each of the vinegar-soaked bones and test its strength. To compare
the bones again at the end of the experiment, you will wrap each of the
bones after the allotted period of time. If you leave them in the open air,
the bone will react with the carbon dioxide in the air and harden again.
Level of Difficulty Easy/Moderate.
Materials Needed

4 similar chicken bones (drumsticks from chicken wings work


well)
vinegar, white
4 glass jars with lids, large enough to hold a bone
marking pen
masking tape
plastic wrap
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Approximate Budget $5.


Timetable 20 minutes initial setup time; another

30 minutes spread out over the next 12 days.


Step-by-Step Instructions

How to Experiment Safely


Vinegar is an acid. Be careful about getting any
of the vinegar in your eyes. Do not eat any of
the vinegar-soaked bones. Throw them out
after the experiment is complete.

1. Clean the four bones thoroughly, scrubbing


them with water.
2. Place a piece of masking tape on each jar
and label the first jar Control, the second jar 4 Days, the third
8 Days, and the last 12 Days.
3. In the control jar, cover the bone with water. In the other three
jars, cover the bones with vinegar. Set the jars aside.
4. After four days, open the 4 Day jar and rinse off the bone with
water. Test the strength of the bone by trying to bend it. While the
bone is still wet, wrap it in plastic wrap thoroughly. Rinse the jar
clean and place the wrapped bone back in the jar, screw on the lid
and set it aside.
5. Repeat Step 4 after another four days for the bone in the 8 Day
jar. Repeat again four days later for the 12 Day jar, except do not
place the bone in plastic wrap.

Control

4 days

8 days

12 days

Steps 2 and 3: Label each jar.


Cover the bone in the control
jar with water; cover the bones
in the other jars with vinegar.
GA LE G RO UP.

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Troubleshooters Guide
Below is a problem that may arise during this
experiment, a possible cause, and a way to
remedy the problem.
Problem: The bones all have the same strength,
even after 12 days.
Possible cause: The bones you used may be too
thick. Try repeating the experiment, increasing the amount of soaking time by doubling
the days. You could also repeat the experiment using bones that are thinner.

6. Unwrap the other bones and examine


how far each bone bends. Rinse the control bone with water and compare the
strength of the three bones to the control.
7. Create a graph of the results, using an
estimate of the degree the bones bend
for the y-axis, and the number of days of
calcium loss on the x-axis.
Summary of Results Examine your graph of the

data. How did the control bone compare to the


bone with the greatest calcium loss? What do the
bones feel like? Do they feel different from each
other? Think about how the loss of calcium in
bones would affect a person. What can this experiment teach you about
osteoporosis in older people?
Change the Variables You can vary this experiment by changing the

thickness or type of bone you use. Do you get the same results with a
turkey bone as a chicken bone? You could also try leaving the bones out in
the air for several days after they have finished soaking in vinegar and
compare the results. You could also try comparing the same type bone from
a young animal and an old animal. You may have to talk with your local
butcher for help in selecting the bones.

EXPERIMENT 2
Muscles: How does the strength of muscles
affect fatigue over time?
Purpose/Hypothesis Skeleton muscles are the muscles attached to bones

that are at work during physical activity. A muscle contracts when it is


flexed or at work. The number of contractions a muscle can make is
affected by fatigue.
In this experiment you will examine if a muscle can increase the
number of contractions with muscle use, thereby reducing muscle fatigue.
You will measure your muscle contractions through squats. The quadriceps
muscles in the front of the upper legs are one of the main muscles used in a
squat. A squat also uses the gluteus, hamstrings, and calf muscles.
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A friend or family member will time the length


of time you conduct the activity before you are
What Are the Variables?
fatigued. This partner will also count the number
of squats you carry out and note them in a chart
Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
that you should not look at until you have comvariables in this experiment:
pleted the entire experiment. Not allowing you to
know the number of muscle contractions you have
the time of day
completed will make the experiment more objec your nutritional level before you conduct
tive by not giving you a number to beat. Try to
the trial
think of something else during the experiment so
In other words, the variables in this experiment
you do not count the squats for yourself.
are everything that might affect how many
You will repeat the experiment every other
times you can complete a squat. If you change
more than one variable at the same time, you
day, until you have completed 10 trials.
will not be able to tell which variable had the
Before you begin, make an educated guess
most effect on fatigue.
about the outcome of this experiment based on
your knowledge of muscle strength and fatigue.
This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should
explain these things:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through further investigation. Your experiment will
prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible
hypothesis for this experiment: The stronger muscles will become less
fatigued and will gain strength over time.
In this case, the variable you will change is the strength of the muscles.
The variable you will measure is the number of times your muscles can
contract. To equate all the other variables, conduct the experiment at
roughly the same time of day. At the end of the experiment you will
examine how your muscles have changed over time.
Level of Difficulty Easy
Materials Needed

partner
watch with second hand
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Approximate Budget $0.

How to Experiment Safely


Working a muscle too hard can cause soreness
and damage to your muscle. Stop the activity if
you feel dizzy or experience physical discomfort. Keep your feet firmly on the floor at all
times and breathe regularly. If you have knee
problems, do not do this experiment. Check
with a parent or physical education teacher for a
replacement activity.

2.

3.
Step 3: Squat until your knees
are above your toes; stop when
you get fatigued. G ALE GRO UP.

4.
5.

Timetable Approximately five minutes per trial

for a period of 10 trials.


Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Have your partner begin timing when you


start your first squat. Your partner will
count the number of squats you do at
each trial. Try to think of something else
during the experiment so you do not count
the squats for yourself.
To conduct the squat, get into a comfortable upright stance, with
your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed straight ahead.
Dont point your toes inward, because this will put a lot of strain on
your knees.
Extend your arms. Squat down until your knees are over your toes.
Pretend you are sitting in a chair.
Make sure to keep your heels planted firmly on the floor.
Return in an upright position and repeat at a regular pace.
6. When your muscles become fatigued
then stop. Have your partner note the
number of squats and the amount of
time. Do not look at the chart.
7. Repeat this process every other day for a
period of 10 trials.
Summary of Results Graph the results of your

data from your first trial to the last trial, making


the x-axis the number of squats and the y-axis the
trial number. Does the number of muscles contractions change over time? Construct a second
graph that marks the length of time of each trial
on the x-axis with the trial number on the y-axis.
How does the length of time you were able to
contract your muscles change over time? Write a
brief summary of the experiment that relates your
results to muscle strength and movement.
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Modify the Experiment You can alter this experiment by simplifying the activity and focusing on
Troubleshooters Guide
how nutrition contributes to muscle fatigue. The
body converts nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and
Below is a problem that may arise during this
experiment, a possible cause, and a way to
proteins) into energy. Carbohydrates are the
remedy the problem.
nutrient most quickly turned into energy for
muscles. If you match muscle fatigue to nutrient
Problem: There is no change in muscle fatigue
over the trials.
intake, you can gather data about how nutrients
Possible
cause: You may be squatting further
may affect muscles. You will need to test several
down
over
the trials, which uses more
people (you can be one of them). First, make a
muscle. Repeat the experiment making sure
hypothesis about how nutrient intake will affect
to stop your squat each time when your
muscle fatigue.
knees are over your toes.
For the physical activity, look for a hard rubber ball that fits in your hand. You will also need a
clock with a minute hand. You will measure how many times you can
squeeze the ball in a 30 second time period. Make a note of the number in
a chart.
Conduct the test two to four times throughout the day, both before you
have eaten and after. You could conduct the activity in the morning, both
before you eat breakfast and 30 minutes after breakfast. Test several people,
also before and after they eat. If possible, test people outside of your family.
Make sure you always use about the same time period both before and after
eating. For example, if you count the number of times you squeeze the ball
after you have not eaten for four hours and then 30 minutes after eating, test
other people using those same times. You also may want to note what
nutrients you and your test subjects ate. Write down the results in a chart.
When you finish, look for any patterns in the chart. Was your hypothesis
correct? Aside from nutrients, consider what other factors might contribute
to muscle fatigue.

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept To select a related project,

you can explore the different ways that you use your bones and muscles
throughout the day. An experiment with bones could include comparing
bones from different species. An experiment with muscles could work to
identify the characteristics of each of the three muscle fibers. Check the
Further Readings section and talk with your science, health, or physical
education teacher to learn more about bones and muscles.
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Bones and Muscles

Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original


experiment, you need to plan carefully and think
things through. Otherwise, you might not be
sure what question you are answering, what
you are or should be measuring, or what your
findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an
experiment:

Regular exercise allows muscles


to burn nutrients more
efficiently and increases their
ability to contract. # KA RL
W EAT HE RLY /C OR BI S.

State the purpose ofand the underlying


question behindthe experiment you
propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State your hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to your
question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results Your data should include

charts and graphs such as the one you did for these experiments. They
should be clearly labeled and easy to read. You may also want to include
photographs and drawings of your experimental setup and results, which
will help others visualize the steps in the experiment.
If you are preparing an exhibit, you may want to display your results,
such as any experimental setup you designed. If you have completed a
nonexperimental project, explain clearly what your research question was
and illustrate your findings.
Related Projects You can design your own experiments on bones and

muscles. Think of some other reasons why people might experience bone
decalcification. Investigate a method for testing the impact of other
minerals in a bone. You could explore how the bones in different species
compare to each other. Do species that are physically similar have similar
bone structures?
For a muscle experiment, you could examine the characteristics of each
of the three types of muscle fibers by purchasing the three different muscles
from a butcher. Examine muscle fatigue further by investigating if fatigue is
greater at certain times of the day. You could investigate if there are
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particular activities that women find fatiguing and men do not. Are there
different muscles in the bones of women and men?

For More Information


KidsHealth. The Big Story on Bones. My Body. http://www.kidshealth.org/
kid/body/bones noSW.html (accessed February 25, 2008). Basic
information and diagrams about bones and muscles.
MyHealthScore.com. Human Anatomy Online. http://www.innerbody.com/
htm/body.html (accessed February 25, 2008). An interactive look at the
skeleton and muscular systems, with descriptions and animations.
Simon, Seymour. Bones: Your Skeleton System. New York: Morrow Junior Books,
1998. Clear introduction to the skeleton system using photographs.
Simon, Seymour. Muscles: Your Muscular System. New York: Morrow Junior
Books, 1998. Clear introduction to the muscular system using photographs.
White, Katherine. The Muscular System. New York: Rosen Publishing, 2001.
Basic information about the muscular system.

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10

Caves

aves, also called caverns, are natural hollow areas inside the ground that
are large enough for a person to fit inside. There are millions of caves on
Earth. Some caves, are only a few yards (meters) deep. Others stretch
hundreds of miles underground, splitting into numerous rooms and passageways. There are caves underwater, on the sides of mountains, and beneath
flat land. Interiors of caves often contain unique landscapes and life forms
that are spectacular sights.

Along with their awesome beauty, caves have provided people with
important clues to ancient life and geology. The scientific study of caves is
called speleology (pronounced spee-lee-AH-lu-gy), from the Greek words
for cave, spelaion, and knowledge, logos. Scientists who study these caves are
known as speleologists and they are only beginning to unearth the treasure of
information that caves contain. Speleologists have found unique animals,
new plant life, and clues to Earths history.
Forming the holes Caves take hundreds of thousands of years to
form. There are caves in the process of forming right now, and alreadyformed caves that are undergoing continuous change. The majority of
caves are made out of the rock limestone. Limestone is a rock formed
millions of years ago out of the hardened remains of layers of sea animals.
The formation of a limestone cave begins with water. When rain falls it
collects a small amount of the gas carbon dioxide from the air. As the water
trickles into the soil, it passes through tiny pockets of air in the soil. The soil
is where it picks up most of the carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide that mixes
with water causes the water to change into an acid, called carbonic acid.
Carbonic acid water slowly eats away at the soft limestone. It seeps into small
cracks, causing the cracks to widen and allowing more water to flow
through. Gradually, the water causes the rock to dissolve. The dissolved
area grows into a hole, then a larger hole, and still larger. Eventually, over a
few million years, the water carves an underground room where there was
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Caves

stream

soil

Cave formation begins: Water


mixes with carbon dioxide to
form carbonic acid, which seeps
into small cracks in the
limestone. GAL E GR OU P.

soil

carbonic acid

carbon dioxide

limestone

once only rock. In time, that room increases in size and can become many
rooms with passageways between them.
A newly formed cave is filled with water. This water can stay in the cave for
hundreds or thousands of years. Water drains out of the cave only when some
type of geological shift occurs. The cave may be lifted above the water by a

soil

Cave formation continues: The


dissolved rock grows in an
increasingly larger hole,
eventually forming a cave.

limestone

GAL E GR OU P.

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gradual uplifting of the ground. Or a nearby stream


of water can flow through the cave, slicing a deep
swath through the cave and causing the water level
to drop. Caves often contain remnants of the water
in streams or ponds. When the cave is lifted above
the water, water flows out of the hole and the cave
fills with air.
There are several other types of caves also. Sea
caves form along rocky shores from the constant
pounding of ocean waves. The waves wear away
the base of the rocky cliff where the rock is soft or
has cracks in it. Seawater carries the rock away
and, over time, a cave forms. Lava caves are made
after a volcano erupts and the molten, hot lava
flows down the side of the volcano. The outer
layer of the lava cools and hardens; hot lava continues to flow underneath. When this hot lava
drains away it can leave a cave behind.
More recently, scientists have discovered that
caves can also form from a type of bacteria that live
deep beneath Earth. These bacteria use oil for food
and release the gas hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen
sulfide reacts with oxygen to produce sulfuric acid,
which can dissolve limestone. The Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico is an
example of a limestone cave carved out of sulfuric acid. These caverns
contain 83 caves and include the nations deepest limestone cave at 1,567
feet (478 meters), and one of the worlds largest chambers.
Natural extensions The slow drainage of carbonic acid water can cause
the formation of dramatic cave features created after the underground
chamber is formed. These features come in many shapes and several different
colors. Two types of attributes common in limestone caves are icicle-like
extensions that sprout up from the floor or hang down from its ceiling.
Stalactites are cave features that hang from the ceiling; stalagmites grow
upward from the floor.
The formation of these two types of features begins with water droplets. After most of the water has drained from a cave, water continues to
flow through layers of the limestone rocks. All the water droplets contain a
small amount of dissolved limestone, which carries the mineral calcite. A
stalactite begins when a drop of this water hangs from the ceiling. The
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Sea caves form along rocky


shores from the constant
pounding of ocean waves.
FIE LD M AR K PU BL ICA TI ONS .

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Caves

water evaporates or drips to the ground and the


calcite in the water remains. One droplet builds
upon another, the calcite deposits increase and a
stalactite grows. Stalactites can reach down hundreds of meters, but watching one grow is a
lengthy process. On average, a stalactite grows
only about half an inch every hundred years.
The upward-growing stalagmites form when
stalactite
water droplets drip from the ceiling or a stalactite
above. When the water droplet hits the floor it
stalagmite
spatters the calcite deposits outward, but close
together. The calcite builds up over time to create
finger-like shapes with rounded tops. Stalagmites
can grow to both amazing widths and heights, some
growing more than 45 feet (13 meters) wide and
30 feet (9 meters) tall.
Stalactites and stalagmites are often white or
nearly white because the most common form of
Stalactites and stalagmites,
calcite is white. Iron and other minerals or materials mixing with the calcite
common in limestone caves,
create rich-colored stalactites and stalagmites, including red, yellow, orange,
form gradually over time from
and black.
the buildup of calcite. G AL E
Life in the dark lane A caves darkness may deter many life forms from
GRO UP.
making a home inside, but caves are crawling with organisms that like what a
cave offers. Scientists have separated cave animals into three distinct types.
Animals that can only survive in the deep interior of caves pitchblackness are called troglobites, from the Greek word meaning cave life. Types
of troglobites include species of shrimp, insects, and spiders. Many of these
animals feature small eyes or blindness, no pigment, and a well-developed
sense of touch and smell. Other animals are part-time cave dwellers. Called
trogloxenes, meaning cave guest, these animals stay in the cave for sleep,
warmth, protection, and to raise their young. Bats are an example of this
type of animal. The nocturnal bats doze away the sunny hours in the darkness
of a cave. Bats live in colonies and feed at night, catching insects such as moths,
beetles, and mosquitoes. Bat colonies are among the largest grouping of
mammals in the world. The Bracken Cave in Texas houses twenty million
Mexican free-tail bats that eat more than 250,000 pounds of insects every
night. Bears, crickets, and pack rats are other examples of trogloxenes.
The last type, troglophiles, meaning cave lovers, are animals that live
most of their lives in caves but also have the ability to live outside. They
like the dampness of the cave and may venture outside to forage for food.
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Cave life includes three general


categories of animals that live in
different areas of the cave. GA LE
GR OU P.

Troglophiles include species of salamanders, frogs, beetles, millipedes,


snails, and mites.
Because green plants need light to live, plants only grow near the entrance
where light penetrates. Mosses and ferns are the plants commonly found near
the cave opening; algae grows on the rocks. Caves are also teeming with fungi
and bacteria that keep the chain of cave life flowing. Droppings from animals,
such as bats, can provide the major food source for other cave life, yet few
animals can feed on these. Bacteria and fungi decompose these materials into
simple foods and nutrients. Small animals, such as insects, also munch on
fungi and bacteria for their food supply. These insects then become food, in
turn, for larger predators.

Fruit bats hang from the walls


of a cave in Bali, Indonesia.
# R OBE RT GIL L/ COR BI S.

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WORDS TO KNOW
Carbonic acid: A weak acid that forms from the
mixture of water and carbon dioxide.

Spelunkers: Also called cavers, people who


explore caves for a hobby.

Cave: Also called cavern, a hollow or natural


passage under or into the ground large enough
for a person to enter.

Stalactite: Cylindrical or icicle-shaped mineral


deposit projecting downward from the roof of a
cave. (Pronounced sta-LACK-tite.)

Control experiment: A setup that is identical to the


experiment, but is not affected by the variable
that acts on the experimental group.

Stalagmite: Cylindrical or icicle-shaped mineral


deposit projecting upward from the floor of a
cave. (Pronounced sta-LAG-mite.)

Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that


can be tested by observation and/or experiment.

Troglobite: An animal that lives in a cave and is


unable to live outside of one.

Lava cave: A cave formed from the flow of lava


streaming over solid matter.

Troglophile: An animal that lives the majority of its


life cycle in a cave but is also able to live outside
of the cave.

Sea cave: A cave in sea cliffs, formed most


commonly by waves eroding the rock.
Speleologist: One who studies caves.

Trogloxene: An animal that spends only part of its


life cycle in a cave and returns periodically to the
cave.

Speleology: Scientific study of caves and their plant


and animal life.

Variable: Something that can affect the results of


an experiment.

Some like it dark Speleologists are not the only people who like to
study caves. People who explore caves for a hobby are called cavers or
spelunkers. Spelunking can be a somewhat dangerous hobby. There are
narrow passages, steep cliffs, and long distancesall in the dark. With
caves that stretch steeply downward, spelunkers need to have many of the
skills and equipment of mountain climbers. The darkness of a cave and its
vastness also take some skill to navigate.

EXPERIMENT 1
Cave Formation: How does the acidity of a
substance affect the formation of a cave?
Purpose/Hypothesis The majority of caves are formed when limestone is

dissolved by carbonic acid. In this experiment you will determine why acidic
substances form caves by comparing how acidic and nonacidic solutions
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react with different geologic materials. You will use


chalk, seashells, and rocks as the geologic materials.
Chalk and seashells are both types of limestone.
Carbonic acid, a mixture of carbon dioxide and
water, is the same compound found in soda. Carbonic acid is a weak acid. It is carbonic acid that
makes soda fizz. A liquid can also be a base or it can
be neutral. Pure water is an example of a neutral.
A mixture of baking soda in water is an example
of a base.
After determining the acidity of the liquids,
you will place drops of the liquids on each material and note the results.
Before you begin, make an educated guess
about the outcome of this experiment based on
your knowledge of limestone and carbonic acid.
This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these things:
the topic of the experiment

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the solid material
the liquid
the liquids acidity
the amount of liquid poured
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the limestones
reaction with the liquid. If you change more
than one variable at the same time, you will not
be able to tell which variable had the most
effect on dissolving the limestone.

the variable you will change


the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be
something you can test through further investigation. Your experiment will
prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible
hypothesis for this experiment: Only the limestone materials will have a
reaction with the acidic liquids.
In this case, the variable you will change is the acidity of the solution. The
variable you will measure is the reaction of the liquid on the geologic
substance.
Conducting a control experiment will help you isolate each variable and
measure the changes in the dependent variable. Only one variable will change
between the control and the experimental setup, and that is the solution you
drop on the solid material. For the control in this experiment you will use
plain water.
Level of Difficulty Easy to Moderate.
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Materials Needed

acid/base indicator strips


baking soda
There are no safety hazards in this experiment.
clear soda pop
distilled water
dropper or spoon
six clear or plastic cups
spoon
measuring spoon
dropper
three pieces pure white chalk
three small rocks/pebbles
three seashells or seashell pieces

How to Experiment Safely

Approximate Budget $5.


Timetable 30 minutes.
Step-by-Step Instructions

Some of the materials needed


for Experiment 1. G ALE
G RO UP.

134

1. Create a data chart, listing the liquids across the top columns and
the different substances in the rows.
2. Prepare a basic solution: Mix 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of baking soda
with one cup of water. Stir thoroughly and label the cup Baking
soda.
3. Pour water in another cup and label as Water; pour soda in yet
another cup and label as Soda.
4. With an acid/base indicator strip, first test the water, then the bakingsoda solution, and, finally, the soda for
acidity. Use a new strip for each test and
dip the strip briefly in each liquid. An acid
will turn the paper red, a base will turn the
paper blue, and a neutral substance will not
change the color of the strip. Note on your
Soda
chart whether each liquid is an acid, base, or
neutral.
5. Take three new, empty cups: Place one
piece of chalk in one; one pebble in a
second; and one seashell piece in the
third.
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6. Use a dropper to drip 3 to 4 drops of the


soda on the limestone chalk. Note in your
chart a description of the sound and
appearance. Does the limestone absorb the
soda? Does the soda give any indication
that it is dissolving the chalk?
7. Drip the same amount of soda over a piece
of the seashell and the pebble. Describe the
reaction of each on the seashell and the
pebble.
8. Repeat Steps 6 and 7, replacing the soda
with the baking-soda solution, and then
with the water. (You may use the same
cups to test all three liquids.) Note the
reactions in the chart.

Troubleshooters Guide
Below is a problem that may arise during this
experiment, a possible cause, and a way to
remedy the problem.
Problem: There was no reaction with any of the
substances.
Possible cause: You may have used soda that
was flat, meaning that all the carbonic dioxide has escaped and there is no carbonic acid.
Repeat the experiment, making sure to use a
fresh, fizzy can of soda.

Summary of Results Examine the reactions of each liquid on the solid

material. How did the acidity level of the liquid affect the reaction? Was
your hypothesis correct? Hypothesize what would occur to each material
if you soaked it in the liquids for several weeks. What would happen to
each substance if you dropped a stronger acid on it? Write a brief
summary of the experiment and your analysis.
Change the Variables There are several ways you can modify the experiment

by changing the variables. You can change the type of geologic substance,
using different types of rocks or granite, for example. You can vary the acidity
level of the liquid, such as by using vinegar (an acid) or soap (a base).
There are charts available where you can look up the strengths of the acids
and bases. Many cleaning products also contain strong acidic substances: Use
these carefully and with adult supervision. You can also alter the experiment
by lengthening the amount of time the liquid sits on the substance.

EXPERIMENT 2
Cave Icicles: How does the mineral content
of water affect the formation of stalactites
and stalagmites?
Purpose/Hypothesis The formation of stalactites and stalagmites in a cave

is a slow process that depends on the mineral content of the water and the
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evaporation rate. In this experiment, you will


form your own mini-cave icicles using two differWhat Are the Variables?
ent types of minerals.
Most caves are formed in limestone. LimeVariables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
stone is a form of the mineral calcite, which is
variables in this experiment:
made up largely of calcium carbonate. In this
experiment, you will use two compounds made
the saturation level of solution
from similar minerals: baking soda and Epsom
the environment allowed to grow
salt. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, a min the string
eral that is a form of carbonate; Epsom salt is
the mineral
magnesium sulfate, another type of mineral, but
In other words, variables in this experiment are
not a carbonate.
everything that might affect the formation of
In order for the minerals to join together to
the stalactites. If you change more than one
variable, you will not be able to tell which
make a stalactite or stalagmite, you have to
variable impacted their formation.
make a water solution brimming with the minerals. Hot water can dissolve more minerals
than cold water. When as much of a substance
as possible is dissolved in hot water and the water is allowed to cool, that
solution is called supersaturated. The molecules in a supersaturated
solution are so crammed together that they readily stick to each other.
When you dip a length of yarn in this solution, the solution will creep
up the yarn. As the air evaporates some of the water, the solid material
will remain on the string. Just as stalactites and stalagmites form in a
cave, the minerals will build up over time.
Before you begin, make an educated guess about the outcome of this
experiment based on your knowledge of the formation of stalactites and
stalagmites. This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A
hypothesis should explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be something you can test through further investigation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible hypothesis
for this experiment: The cave formations will accumulate better when they
are made out of baking soda, the same carbonate mineral that is in a cave.
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In this case, the variable you will change is the


type of mineral in each solution. The variable you
will measure is the formation of the stalactites and
(perhaps) stalagmites.
Level of Difficulty Moderate.

How to Experiment Safely


Have an adult present when handling hot
water. Be careful when handling the scissors.

Materials Needed

four clear glasses or small glass jars (same size)


hot water
baking soda
Epsom salt
two spoons
dark construction paper, 8.5 x 11 inches (22 x 28 centimeters)
four small washers (or paper clips)
scissors
bowl
thick woolen yarn, about 2 feet (0.6 meters)
masking tape
marking pen

Approximate Budget $5.


Timetable 45 minutes for setup and followup; 5 to 10 minutes per day for

about 8 to 12 days to observe and record the results.


Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Pour 2 cups of very hot water into a bowl


and dissolve as much baking soda as you
can to make a saturated solution. Stir
after every addition. When the solution
is saturated, small bits of baking soda will
fall to the bottom and will not dissolve no
matter how hard you stir.
2. Pour half the water in one cup and half in
another cup.
3. Cut the construction paper in half. Place
the two glasses close to either end of the
dark paper.
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Step 6: The yarn should sag


slightly in the center. GA LE
GRO UP .

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Caves

Troubleshooters Guide
Below is a problem that may arise during this
experiment, some possible causes, and some
ways to remedy the problem.
Problem: No crystals grew in one or more of
the solutions.
Possible cause: The solution may not have
been saturated when the water was hot.
You may not have stirred enough to dissolve
the solids. Pour the solution back in the
saucepan. Reheat the solution, adding more
of the substance and stirring well after each
addition until you see bits of the substance
fall to the bottom.
Possible cause: The water may not have been
hot enough. It does not need to be at the
boiling point, but it does need to be hot.
Pour the solution back in the saucepan.
Reheat the solution, adding more of the
substance and stirring well after each addition until it is saturated.

4. Stretch the yarn between the glasses and


cut a piece that is about double that length.
The yarn should be long enough to go
inside each glass and hang loosely.
5. Tie a washer or paper clip to each end of
the yarn.
6. Carefully lower the weighted ends of the
yarn into the two glasses. The yarn should
sag slightly in the center.
7. Label the two glasses sodium
bicarbonate.
8. Repeat Steps 1 through 7, replacing the
baking soda with Epsom salt. Label the
second set of glasses magnesium sulfate.
9. Allow the glasses to sit undisturbed for at
least 8 to 12 days. (A warm, sunny area
works well.)
10. Illustrate what happens each day.
Summary of Results Look at your progression of

pictures over the time of the experiment. What has


formed on the string? Has anything begun to form
on the construction paper? Compare the pictures of
the two types of minerals? Write up a summary of the experiment, explaining the process of the mineral formations.

Change the Variables There are several ways you can vary this experiment.

You can use a different type of mineral to form the solution, such as sodium
carbonate (washing soda) or sodium chloride (salt). You can also alter the
environment that the minerals form in, such as a humid or a dry environment.
Modify the Project For an advanced project, you could combine all the
concepts you learned about caves to produce a model of a cave. This project
will take about two weeks, as you will probably want to grow several
stalactites or stalagmites. You can look at the color of different minerals in
caves and add dye to the solutions to produce red, yellow or other color cave
formations.
Once you have grown stalactites or stalagmites, you can form a cave
with clay or another hard, moldable material. You can tape the mineral
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formations onto the cave floor or ceilings. You


can also use the minerals from Experiment 2 to
make other cave formation, such as popcorn.
Popcorn is a small mineral cluster that often
grows on cave walls. Think about where the
water will flow in relation to the growth of the
cave formations? Consider if you want water at
the bottom of your cave. You could also add
some plant life at the cave opening. Write down
the explanations behind the features and formations of your cave.

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept Cave formations are often

intriguing to view and study. These structures are continuing to provide new
information to spelunkers, speleologists, and other explorers. For a related
project, you could investigate the history, geology, life, and formation of
caves. You could also find out if there are any caves in your area that are open
to visitors.
Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science teacher to
learn more about caves. If you decide to visit a cave, make sure you are
accompanied by an adult knowledgeable about caving.

A Native American cave


dwelling at Canyonlands
National Park, Utah. # PBN J
PRO DU CTI ON S/C OR BI S.

Steps in the Scientific Method To conduct an original experiment, you


need to plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not
be sure what question you are answering, what you are or should be
measuring, or what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:

State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe


experiment you propose to do
Recognize the variables involved and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand
State your hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to your
question
Decide how to change the variable you selected
Decide how to measure your results
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results Your data should include

charts and graphs such as the one you did for these experiments. They
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Caves

should be clearly labeled and easy to read. You may also want to include
photographs and drawings of your experimental setup and results, which
will help other people visualize the steps in the experiment.
If you are preparing an exhibit, you may want to display your results, such
as any experimental setup you designed. If you have completed a nonexperimental project, explain clearly what your research question was and illustrate
your findings.
Related Projects There are multiple projects related to caves that you can

undertake. You can study the animal and plant life in a cave through
research and visits to museums or other facilities that may house some
cave creatures. If there is a cave in your area that is open to the public,
you could visit the cave and use a magnifying glass to examine the plant and
animal life. Make sure you do not collect or touch any of the plant or animal
life so as not to disturb their habitat. This project could also include an
examination of how each type of animal and plant has adapted to the cave
environment. If you decide to conduct a cave exploration, make sure an
adult who is knowledgeable in caving accompanies you.
You can also investigate the formation of different types of caves, such as
caves that form from volcanoes or out of ice. You could conduct a research
project on the information that caves have provided in many fields of study.
Another research project could be to examine how cultures throughout
history have used caves in their daily life and rituals.

For More Information


Good Earth Graphics. The Virtual Cave. http://www.goodearth
graphics.com/virtcave (accessed on February 3, 2008). Images of different
types of caves from around the world.
Groleau, Rick How Caves Form. NOVA. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/
caves/form.html# (accessed on February 3, 2008). Animated depiction of the
formation of caves with clear explanations.
Hadingham, Evan. Subterranean Surprises. Smithsonian Magazine, October
2002, pp. 68 74. This article can also be found online at http://www.
smithsonianmag.com/science nature/subterranean.html (accessed February 3,
2008). Detailed article on information scientists are learning about caves.
Taylor, Michael Ray and Ronal C. Kerbo. Caves: Exploring Hidden
Realms.Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2001.
The National Speleological Society. http://www.caves.org/ (accessed on February 3,
2008). Homepage for the National Speleological Society describing their
purpose and activities.

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Cells

hat do slimy earthworms, majestic lions, and giant redwood trees


have in common with humans? We all have cells, tiny units of life
that grow and duplicate, gather fuel and building materials, and make
energy. Cells are present in all living things. Some living things, such as
bacteria and some plants, consist of only one cell where all the functions
of life take place. They are known as unicellular. The average human has
50 to 100 trillion cells. Living things with a great many cells that are
joined together are called multicellular.

Based on his observations from


his microscope, Robert Hooke
wrote the book Micrographi in
1665, which was the first to
describe the structure of plant
and animal cells. LI AIS ON
AG ENC Y.

Looks like a monks cell to me All humans begin life as a single cell. It
weighs no more than a millionth of an ounce. The naked eye cannot see
anything that tiny. So no one could have known cells existed until the
compound microscope was invented in the late sixteenth century. Between
1590 and 1609, Dutchmen Hans Janssen, his son Zacharias, and Hans
Lippershey designed several compound microscopes. In a compound microscope, two or more lenses are arranged to produce a greatly enlarged image.
In 1660, a Dutch drape maker named Anton
van Leeuwenhoek (16321723) used a microscope
to peer at his textiles. He began studying the
invisible worlds of nature. Leeuwenhoek designed
250 different microscopes to further his studies.
Around that time, Robert Hooke (16351703),
an English scientist, slid a piece of cork under a
microscope. The mass he saw seemed to be made
of chambers, like monks cells in a monastery. He
called these chambers cells.
Developing the cell theory Hookes cells
were from a cork trees dead and dry bark. The
fact that cells are units of life was not understood
until the nineteenth century. Between 1838 and
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Cells

In this slide of a plant, can you


find the nucleus and cytoplasm?
PH OT O RE SEA RC HE RS I NC.

Genetic researchers in
silhouette against magnified
DNA strands. PH OT O
R ES EAR CH ER S, I NC.

142

1839 Theodor Schwann and Matthias Schleiden,


both German zoologists, independently said that
all living things have one or more cells, that all cells
are similar, and that in order to exist, these cells
carry out the same functions. These facts are now
called the cell theory. The study of cells is called
cytology. Rudolf Virchow, a German pathologist,
took the cell theory further in 1855 and suggested
that all cells are formed by the division of preexisting cells. Without the cell theory we would
never know how organisms grow and develop. We
could not treat diseases or pains in our joints, for instance, without knowing
what cells do and how they function.
Whats in there? Cells are not lifeless blobs. Chemical changes within
each cell accomplish many functions, including digestion and breathing.
There are two basic types of cells, plant cells and animal cells. Almost all cells
share similar features, such as a cell membrane, which surrounds the cell.
The cell membrane is a thin wall that lets gases, such as oxygen, and fluids,
such as nutrients, pass through. Cytoplasm (pronounced CY-tow-pla-sim) is
the gray, jellylike substance inside the cell membrane. It consists mostly of
water but also has many other substances important for cells to function.
Think of a cell as a factory with each division performing specific jobs.
Organelles (pronounced OR-gan-ells) in the cytoplasm represent those divisions. For instance, Golgi bodies are organelles that act as the cleaning crew.
Golgi absorb waste, package it up, and send it out for disposal. Vacuoles
(pronounced VAC-u-ols) are organelles that act as the storage crew. They store
food, waste, and chemicals. While there are similarities in cells, there are differences between plant and
animal cells. The cytoplasm of plants, for example,
contains chloroplasts, which gives the plant the
ability to make its own food.
Its what makes your hair curly The
nucleus, another organelle, is the cells library. It
lies in the center of the cell and contains DNA.
DNA, an abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid,
are molecules that store information. They tell
each cell how to develop into a nerve cell, a blood
cell, and so on. What makes you unique, as well
as what makes you similar to other people, was
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Cells

WORDS TO KNOW
Cells: The basic unit for living organisms; cells are
structured to perform highly specialized
functions.
Cell membrane: A thin-layered tissue that surrounds a cell.
Cell theory: All living things have one or more
similar cells that carry out the same functions for
the living process.
Chloroplasts: Small structures in plant cells that
contain chlorophyll and in which the process of
photosynthesis takes place.
Cytology: The branch of biology concerned with
the study of cells.
Cytoplasm: The semifluid substance inside a cell
that surrounds the nucleus and the other
membrane-enclosed organelles.
Dicot: Plants with a pair of embryonic seeds that
appear at germination.
DNA: Large, complex molecules found in nuclei of
cells that carry genetic information for an
organisms development.
Embryonic: The earliest stages of development.

Germination: The beginning of growth of a seed.


Golgi body: An organelles that sorts, modifies, and
packages molecules.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that
can be tested by observation and/or experiment.
Monocot: Plants with a single embryonic leaf at
germination.
Multicellular: Living things with many cells joined
together.
Organelles: Membrane-bounded cellular organs
performing a specific set of functions within a cell.
Pnematocysts: Stinging cells.
Protozoan: Minute, one-celled animals.
Unicellular: Living things that have one cell.
Protozoans are unicellular, for example.
Vacuoles: A part of plant cells where food, waste,
and chemicals are stored.
Variable: Something that can affect the results of an
experiment.

programmed into your DNA. Each cell contains many strands of DNA. If you
put them all together, they would stretch thousands of miles.
Cells are like little companies. They contain tiny workers with functions
that help the living organism survive. A companys main goal is to make a
profit. A cells main goal is sustaining life. Cells also reproduce themselves by
dividing. Cell division is a process where a cell divides into two cells. Yeast
cells undergo a process of cell division called budding. The parent cell forms a
bud on the outside of the cell wall. This bud continues to grow until it
reaches the size of the parent cell and then it separates from the parent cell and
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Cells

How to Experiment Safely


Use caution when collecting cells with toothpicks.
When carrying the compound microscope, use
two hands. After collecting pond water, wash
your hands. Be careful not to stain your clothes or
furniture when using the iodine.

the process starts again. Conducting projects with a


microscope will enable you to see the way in which
cells function and reproduce as a life force.

PROJECT 1
Investigating Cells: What are the
differences between a multicellular
organism and a unicellular
organism?

Purpose/Hypothesis In this project, you will collect, prepare, mount, and

compare cells from a multicellular organism and a single-celled protozoan.


This will allow you to observe the differences between these two basic
forms of organisms.
Level of Difficulty Moderate/difficult, because it requires the use of a

compound microscope. (If you are unfamiliar with its use, please ask a
teacher or other adult for assistance.)
Materials Needed

Step 4: Cell culture slide, with


cover slip tipping over the cell
culture. GAL E GR OU P.

compound microscope (try to borrow one from a school or friend)


slides and cover slips, glass or plastic (Note: If your slides are
plastic, use plastic cover slips.)
stain (iodine from drugstore is good; avoid any solution with
alcohol, as it will kill any organisms)
toothpicks (flat-end toothpicks work best)
eye dropper
small jar filled with pond water, the dirtier the better
Approximate Budget $10 for stain, slides, cover

slips, and eye dropper.


Timetable About 1 hour.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Use the flat end of a toothpick to gently


scrape the inside of your cheek. Dont
press too hard! Scrape gently five to 10
times.
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2. Smear the cells from the end of the toothpick onto a clean slide.
Troubleshooters Guide
3. Place one drop of stain onto the slide,
covering the cells.
Here is a problem that may arise, a possible
4. Gently place the cover slip over the cell
cause, and a way to remedy the problem.
culture. (Hint: Gently rest one side on the
Problem: Nothing appears on the slide.
slide and slowly lower the cover slip until it
Possible cause: You are probably out of focus.
rests flat.)
Place a small piece of paper on the slide and
5. Examine the slide under the microscope,
focus until it is clear. Use the fine focus knob.
using low power.
6. Draw what you see and label any parts
you recognize.
7. Place two drops of pond water on the center of the slide.
8. Place a drop of stain on the pond water drops.
9. Place the cover slip over the slide using the same technique as with
the cheek cells.
10. Examine the slide under the microscope, using low power.
11. Draw what you see and label the parts.
Summary of Results Compare your diagrams and data of the cheek cells
and protozoans from the pond water. Determine which cells had a more
complex structure. Record a list of the differences between cheek cells and
protozoan cells. Note differences such as movement, shape, presence of a
cell membrane, and the presence of other cell
stuctures. Summarize your observations with
sketches and in writing.

Step 7: Pond water cheek cells


on low power. GAL E GR OU P.

PROJECT 2
Plant Cells: What are the
cell differences between
monocot and dicot plants?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you

will collect, prepare, and mount cells from two


multicellular plants. The multicellular plants
you will be working with are monocot, that is,
plants with a single embryonic leaf at germination, and dicot, plants with a pair of embryonic
leaves at germination.
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Cells

How to Experiment Safely


When carrying the compound microscope, use
two hands. Ask an adult to use the razor blade.

Level of Difficulty Moderate/difficult, because it


requires the use of a compound microscope. (If
you are unfamiliar with its use, please ask a
teacher or other adult for assistance.)
Materials Needed

compound microscope (try to borrow one


from a school or friend)
slides and cover slips, glass or plastic (Note: If you are using plastic
slides, use plastic cover slips.)
single-edge razor blade
thread spool
plant stemstulip and daisy preferred (Go to a local florist and
ask for a clipping of the stem.)

Approximate Budget $6 for the slides and cover slips.


Timetable About 1 hour.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Push the tulip stem through the hole in the thread spool until it
pokes out the opposite end.

Step 1: Tulip stem in the thread


spool. GAL E GR OU P.

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2. Have an adult use the razor to trim the tulip


stem, flush to the thread spool. Discard the
trimmed piece.
3. Push the tulip stem through the thread
spool so about .03 inch (1.0 millimeter)
of stem is exposed.
4. Carefully using the razor, trim the .03 inch
(1 millimeter) of tulip stem flush to the
thread spool. Save the trimmed stem.
5. Place the stem slice on the slide and cover
with the cover slip.
6. Place the slide on the microscope and examine under low power.
Record your observations using drawings and descriptions.
7. Repeat steps 1 through 6 for the daisy stem.
8. Record and compare your observations.

Basic differences between


monocot and dicot stems: Dicot
stem cells are more orderly;
monocot stem cells are more
random. G AL E GR OUP .

Summary of Results Compare your diagrams of the tulip and daisy stems.

Which stem had cell patterns that were more orderly? Which stem had more
random patterns? A tulip is a monocot, and a daisy is a dicot. Can you tell the
difference between monocot and dicot plants by examining their stems?

PROJECT 3
Yeast Cells: How do they reproduce?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will prepare a yeast solution

and mount these cells on slides to be viewed under the microscope.


Yeast need water, food, and warmth to thrive. The food source you will
use is sugar. Once the yeast are in a comfortable environment with food,
you can observe the reproduction of the cells.

Step 4: Slice of tulip stem


trimmed off spool by razor.
GA LE G RO UP.

Level of Difficulty Moderate/Difficult, because


it requires the use of a compound microscope.
(If you are unfamiliar with its use, please ask a
teacher or other adult for assistance.)
Materials Needed

compound microscope (try to use one


from your school, local community college, or university)
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Cells

Troubleshooters Guide
Here is a problem that may arise, a possible
cause, and a way to remedy the problem.
Problem: You cannot see anything.
Possible cause: The stem is too thick. Try
cutting the plant stem thinner so the light passes
through it.

slides and cover slips, glass or plastic


(Note: If you are using plastic slides, use
plastic cover slips.)
yeast, available in grocery stores
shallow, glass dish
sugar
warm water
eye dropper
Approximate Budget $6
Timetable About 1 hour.
Step-by-Step Instructions

How to Experiment Safely

1. Prepare the yeast as recommended on the


back of the package, using the warm
When lifting or carrying the compound microwater and sugar to activate the yeast.
scope, use two hands. If you have not used a
2. Using the eye dropper, place one drop of
compound microscope before, you may need
water onto the slide.
an adult to help you set up.
3. When the yeast mixture begins to froth,
place a dab of the frothy yeast onto the
drop of water on the slide. Cover with cover slip.
4. Place the slide under the microscope and observe the cells. You
will need a magnification of 650 to see the cells.
5. Look for cells that have another smaller cell attached to it. This is
Step 1: Warm water and sugar,
the beginning of the cell separation known as budding. If you
combined with the yeast,
look at the cells long enough (about 20 minutes), you should see
creates a frothy mixture.
the beginning of cell reproduction.
ILL US TRA TI ON B Y TE MA H
6. Record your observations using drawings
NE LS ON.
and descriptions.
Summary of Results What did you see? Were

you able to see the yeast cells budding? If possible, continue to observe the yeast every five
minutes. Diagram your observations.

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept

If you choose a topic in biology, you can


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Cells

generally involve the topic of cells. For example,


you may be interested in jellyfish and sea anemones. These two creatures share a type of stinging cell called a pnematocyst, which paralyzes
and kills their prey. The small differences in cell
structure give rise to different behaviors and
structure of animals and plants.
Check the Further Readings section and talk
with your science teacher or school or community
media specialist to start gathering information on
cell questions that interest you.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original experiment, you need to

plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not be sure
what question you are answering, what you are or should be measuring, or
what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved, and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to
your question.
Decide how to change the variable you
selected.
Decide how to measure your results.

Step 2: A small amount of


yeast is placed on the slide.
IL LU STR AT IO N BY T EM AH
NE LS ON.

Step 4: Budding can be


observed after about
20 minutes. IL LU STR AT ION
BY T EMA H NE LS ON.

Recording Data and Summarizing the Results

Your experiment can be useful to others studying


the same topic. When designing your experiment,
develop a simple method to record your data. This
method should be simple and clear enough so
that others who want to do the experiment can
follow it. Your final results should be summarized
and put into simple graphs, tables, and charts to
display the outcome of your experiment.
Related Projects Creating a project about cells

Yeast Cell Budding

offers endless possibilities. You can create a slide


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Cells

Troubleshooters Guide
Here is a problem that may arise, a possible
cause, and a way to remedy the problem.
Problem: You cannot see anything.
Possible cause: You do not have the correct
level of magnification. Make sure the microscope is set with a high enough magnification
power in order to observe the cells.
Problem: The yeast cells are too close together
to observe budding.
Possible cause: You may have too much of the
yeast mixture on your slide. Take another slide,
add a droplet of water and place a smaller
amount of the yeast mixture onto the slide.
Problem: The yeast cells are not budding.
Possible cause: The yeast may not have been
alive Purchase a fresh container of yeast. Try
again, making sure that the water is not too hot
or it may kill the yeast.

150

collection of cells from many different plants


(stem, seed, leaf, needle, root, etc.). You can
create a model of a cell labeling the parts and
functions. Making a model from colored plastic
clay is inexpensive and informative.

For More Information


Andrew Rader Studios. Cell Structures. Raders
Biology4kids.com. http://www.biology4kids.com/
files/cell main.html (accessed on January 19,
2008). Information on cell structures and
functions.
Bender, Lionel. Atoms and Cells. Glouster, ME:
Glouster Press, 1990 Provides background and
functions of atoms and cells.
Cells Alive! http://cellsalive.com Interactive graphics
and pictures of cells in motion.
Young, John K. Cells: Amazing Forms and Functions.
New York: Franklin Watts, 1990. Good,
understandable overview of these units of life for
young people.

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12

Chemical Energy

hemical energy is the energy stored within the bonds of atoms. A bond is
the force that holds two atoms together. Different substances have bonds
held together by different amounts of energy. When those bonds are released,
a chemical reaction takes place, and a new substance is created. Chemical
reactions that break these bonds and form new ones sometimes release the
excess energy as heat and sometimes absorb heat energy from whatever is
around them.

Thus, heat energy can be produced or absorbed during a chemical


reaction. Reactions that release heat energy are called exothermic. Reactions
that take in heat energy from the surrounding environment are called
endothermic. Whether heat energy is given off or absorbed during a
chemical reaction depends on the bonds that hold the atoms together.
In a chemical reaction, the original substances are called reactants. The
new substances that are formed are called products. When the bonding
structure of the products requires less energy than the bonding structure of
the reactants, the excess energy may be released as heat. When the bonding
structure of the products requires more energy than the structure of the
reactants, it gets that energy by removing heat from its surroundings.
For example, when iron rusts, the iron atoms are combining with
oxygen molecules in the air to form iron oxide. The chemical reaction of
rusting breaks the bonds in the oxygen molecules, releasing heat energy. The
bonds between the oxygen atoms and the iron atoms do not require as much
heat energy as the bonds within the oxygen molecules, so a small amount of
energy is released, making the reaction exothermic. The amount of heat
released is quite small, and the reaction is normally quite slow, so rusting
iron does not feel hot to us. Yet, the energy released can be measured with a
thermometer. In the first experiment, you will observe the change in
temperature resulting from rusting.
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Chemical Energy

The chemical reaction that


occurs when iron rusts actually
gives off small amounts of
heat energy. PH OT O
RE SEA RC HE RS I NC.

This hot pack releases an


exothermic reaction. PH OT O
RE SEA RC HE RS I NC.

Some exothermic reactions are quite common. One is combustion, the burning of organic
substances during which oxygen is used to form
carbon dioxide and water vapor. The substances
formed (ashes, for example) hold less heat energy
than the substances burned held. The excess
energy is released as heat. The reactions between
some chemicals, such as aluminum oxide and iron
oxide, can produce great amounts of heat. This
reaction is used to produce very high temperatures
for industrial purposes.
Endothermic reactions are more rare in
nature, but scientists have found ways to create
them. For example, an endothermic reaction occurs when you use a chemical cold pack. These packs contain a chemical in powder form that reacts
with water. Squeezing the pack breaks down the wall separating the powder
from the water. The reaction that occurs absorbs more energy than it
releases, making the pack feel cold to you. In the second experiment, you
will compare four chemical reactions and determine whether each one is
exothermic or endothermic.

EXPERIMENT 1
Rusting: Is the chemical
reaction exothermic,
endothermic, or neither?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will

measure the heat energy released or absorbed by


the chemical reaction of rusting, the transformation of iron and atmospheric oxygen into iron
oxide. Before you begin, make an educated guess
about the outcome of this experiment based on
your knowledge of rusting. This educated guess, or
prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should
explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
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WORDS TO KNOW
Atom: The smallest unit of an element, made up
of protons and neutrons in a central nucleus
surrounded by moving electrons.
Bond: The force that holds two atoms
together.
Chemical energy: Energy stored in chemical
bonds.
Chemical reaction: Any chemical change in which
at least one new substance is formed.
Combustion: Any chemical reaction in which
heat, and usually light, is produced. It
is commonly the burning of organic
substances during which oxygen from the
air is used to form carbon dioxide and water
vapor.
Control experiment: A set-up that is identical to
the experiment but is not affected by the
variable that will be changed during the
experiment.

Endothermic: A chemical reaction that takes in heat


energy.
Exothermic: A chemical reaction that gives off heat
energy.
Heat: A form of energy produced by the motion of
molecules that make up a substance.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that
can be tested by observation and/or experiment.
Molecule: The smallest particle of a substance that
retains all the properties of the substance and is
composed of one or more atoms.
Product: A compound that is formed as a result of a
chemical reaction.
Reactant: A compound present at the beginning of
a chemical reaction.
Variable: Something that can affect the results of an
experiment.

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through observation. Your experiment will prove or
disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible hypothesis
for this experiment: A rise in air temperature will show that rusting is an
exothermic reaction.
In this case, the variable you will change is the number of rusting pads in
each cup, and the variable you will measure is any
change in air temperature. You expect the temperature to go up in the cups with rusting pads and the
temperature to go up the most in the cup with the
How to Experiment Safely
most pads.
As a control experiment, you will leave one cup
Wear protective gloves when handling the steel
empty and monitor any change in temperature
wool and vinegar.
there. If the temperature is higher in the cup with
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153

Chemical Energy

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:

more pads and does not change in the empty cup,


your hypothesis will be supported.
Level of Difficulty Moderate.
Materials Needed

4 large Styrofoam cups


aluminum foil
7 steel wool pads (not pads treated with
detergent or soap)
vinegar
4 digital laboratory thermometers
rubber or surgical gloves
paper towels
large bowl

the type of reactants used (iron in the


pads and atmospheric oxygen)
the temperature of the environment in
which the samples are tested
the number of rusting pads in each cup
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the temperature in the cup. If you change more than one
variable, you will not be able to tell which variable had the most effect on the temperature.

Approximate Budget $10. (If four thermometers

are unavailable, the four parts of this experiment can


be performed separately with one thermometer.)
Timetable About 45 minutes.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Line the inside of each of the four cups with aluminum foil.
2. Place the seven steel wool pads in the large bowl and soak
them thoroughly in vinegar (to remove any coating and encourage
rusting). Blot them dry with paper towels.
3. Place one pad in the first cup, two pads in the second cup, and
four pads in the third cup. The fourth cup will be emptyyour
control.
4. Push the bulb of one thermometer gently into the steel wool in the
first cup. Do not push the bulb down to or near the bottom of the
cup. Cover the opening of the cup with aluminum foil. The stem on
the thermometer must be visible.
5. Repeat Step 4 for the second, third, and fourth (control) cups.
6. Place all four cups where no other heat sources will affect their
temperature.
7. Prepare a chart similar to the one illustrated so you can record your
observations.
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Step 4: Illustration of rusting


set-up. GAL E GR OU P.

8. Observe and record any change in temperature in any of the four


cups every 10 minutes. The rusting process will begin immediately, but the resulting change in temperature will be gradual and

Step 7: Temperature recording


chart. GA LE GRO UP.
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Chemical Energy

Troubleshooters Guide
Few problems should arise if the steps in this
experiment are followed closely. However,
when doing experiments involving the mixing
of substances, be aware that a number of
variablessuch as temperature and impurity
of substancescan affect your results. Here is
a problem that may arise, a possible cause,
and a way to remedy the problem.
Problem: You observed little or no temperature
change in the cups.
Possible cause: The steel wool is not rusting.
Try soaking it in vinegar again for several
minutes to remove any protective layers and
then repeat the experiment.

small. Make sure that external factors are


not affecting the temperature, such as
sunlight or heat from a lamp.
Summary of Results Examine your results and

determine whether your hypothesis is correct.


Did the temperature rise higher when more
wool pads were in the cup? Did it rise in the
empty cup? If the reactions resulted in an increase
in temperature, then rusting is indeed exothermic. Make sure that your chart shows clearly the
result of the tests on each sample.
Change the Variables You can vary this experi-

ment. Here are some possibilities:

Other metals will oxidize, though at


much slower rates. See if you can measure
the temperature change resulting from the
oxidation of copper (loops of copper wire
may be best).
Compare the heat energy released by different kinds of oxidation.
What about the oxidation you can see occurring on the cut surface
of an apple? Find a way to determine if that reaction is exothermic.
Always check first with your teacher before altering the materials
used in your experiments.

EXPERIMENT 2
Exothermic or Endothermic: Determining
whether various chemical reactions are
exothermic or endothermic
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will measure the heat energy

released or absorbed as four different chemicals (see the materials list) are
mixed with water. You expect that the temperature of the solution will go
up if the reaction is exothermic and go down if the reaction is endothermic. Before you begin, make an educated guess about the outcome of
each reaction based on your knowledge of the chemicals and reactions
involved. This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these things:
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the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
the type of reactants used
through observation. Your experiment will prove
the purity of the reactants
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct.
the temperature of the environment in
Here is one possible hypothesis for one of the
which the samples are tested
reactions in this experiment: Mixing water with
In other words, the variables in this experiment
calcium chloride will produce an exothermic
are everything that might affect the temperareaction.
ture of the solutions. If you change more than
In this case, the variable you will change is
one variable, you will not be able to tell which
the chemical being reacted with water, and the
variable had the most effect on the
temperature.
variable you will measure is the resulting temperature of the solution. In the case of calcium
chloride, you expect the temperature to go up.
As a control experiment, you will measure the
Wear gloves and safety glasses
or goggles at all times while
temperature in a beaker of distilled water with no chemical in it. If the
performing this experiment.
temperature changes in the beakers with chemicals as predicted and
GAL E GR OU P.
remains steady in the control beaker, you will
know your hypothesis is supported.
Level of Difficulty Moderate; an adults super-

vision is required.
Materials Needed

5 glass beakers
1 graduated cylinder
1 glass stirring rod
1 small spoon or spatula
1 digital laboratory thermometer
1 pint (500 milliliters) distilled water
1 tablespoon (14 grams) calcium chloride
1 tablespoon (14 grams) sodium
hydrocarbonate
1 tablespoon (14 grams) ammonium
nitrate
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Chemical Energy

How to Experiment Safely


This experiment involves dangerous and toxic
substances. No part of this experiment should
be performed without adult supervision. You
must be especially careful handling the sulfuric
acid, which is highly corrosive. Wear gloves and
safety glasses or goggles at all times! When
you are finished with the experiment, the
chemicals used must be disposed of properly
and with supervision. Ask your teacher for help
in handling, neutralizing, and disposing of the
sulfuric acid.

2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) concentrated


sulfuric acid
safety glasses or goggles
rubber or surgical gloves
Approximate Budget $25. (This experiment

should be performed only with the appropriate


lab equipment and materials. Ask your teacher
about ordering the chemicals.)
Timetable One hour.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Place the five beakers on a clean, stable


surface and use the graduated cylinder to

Step 2: Exothermic vs.


endothermic recording chart.
GAL E GR OU P.

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2.
3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

measure and pour 3 tablespoons (about 50 milliliters) of distilled water into each one.
Prepare a chart on which you will record your observations. Your
chart should look something like the illustration.
Place the thermometer in the first beaker and record the temperature on your chart. This sample, which contains only the distilled
water, will be your control.
Using the spoon or small spatula, add about half the sample of
calcium chloride to the second beaker. Stir it gently until it is
mixed with the distilled water.
Place the thermometer in the beaker and note the temperature
once each 30 seconds for five minutes. Record the temperatures on
the chart. When you are done, be sure to rinse the thermometer
with room-temperature distilled water.
Repeat Steps 4 and 5 for the sodium hydrocarbonate and the
ammonium nitrate. Remember to rinse the thermometer, stirring
rod, spatula, or spoon in distilled water after each test.
In the last beaker, slowly and gently add all of the sulfuric acid to
the water. Be careful not to spill or splash the acid. Place the
thermometer in the beaker and note the temperature once each
30 seconds for five minutes. Record the temperature changes on
your chart. When you are done, be sure to rinse the thermometer.

Summary of Results Examine your results and determine whether each

of your hypotheses is correct. If any reactions resulted in an increase in


temperature, those reactions are exothermic. If any reactions resulted in

Steps 3 to 7: Exothermic vs.


endothermic set-up beakers.
GA LE G RO UP.

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Troubleshooters Guide
When doing experiments involving the mixing
of substances, be aware that a number of
variablessuch as temperature and impurity
of substancescan affect your results. When
mixing substances, you must keep the mixing
containers and utensils clean. Even tiny
impurities in a mixture can drastically alter
your results.

a decrease in temperature, they are endothermic.


Make sure that your chart shows clearly the
result of the tests on each set of reactants. It
may be helpful to those viewing your results to
see a diagram outlining the procedure you
followed.
Change the Variables You can vary this experi-

Here is a problem that may arise, a possible


cause, and a way to remedy the problem.

ment by trying reactions involving different household materials or chemical compounds. Do not
mix them with anything other than water. Always
check first with your teacher before altering the
materials used in your experiments.

Problem: You observed little or no temperature


change in the beakers.

Design Your Own Experiment

Possible cause: You are not placing enough of


the solid reactants in the water. Try increasing
the amount of solid reactant.

How to Select a Topic Relating to this


Concept Other kinds of experiments can reveal

interesting facts about endothermic and exothermic reactions. Our bodies produce exothermic
reactions when we turn food into energy. Can
you measure the amount of food energy available in a sample by burning
it and measuring the resulting temperature change in a sample of water?
Review the description of how cold packs work. Can you think of a way to
design a homemade cold pack?
Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science teacher
or school or community media specialist to start gathering information on
chemical reaction questions that interest you.

Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original experiment, you need to

plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not be sure
what question you are answering, what you are or should be measuring, or
what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved, and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to
your question.
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Decide how to change the variable you


selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the
Results In the experiments included here and in

any experiments you develop, strive to display


your data in accurate and interesting ways.
Remember that those who view your results
may not have seen the experiment performed, so
you must present the information you have gathered as clearly as possible. Including photographs or illustrations of the
steps in the experiment is a good way to show a viewer how you got from
your hypothesis to your conclusion.
Related Projects Chemical energy is a basic and crucial part of life

Some cold packs use a chemical


reaction that starts when
you squeeze the pack. The
pack cools off in an
endothermic reaction. PHO TO
RE SE AR CHE RS I NC .

processes as well as technological processes. Projects that determine the


energy produced by different fuels and compare the by-products of those
fuels can help to demonstrate the necessity for developing alternative
energy sources. Examining different reactions and determining their
endothermic or exothermic rate can help us understand where so much
of the energy we use goes.

For More Information


BBC. Mixtures. Schools. Science: Chemistry. http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/
ks3bitesize/science/chemistry/index.shtml (accessed on February 18, 2008).
Basic information on the chemistry of mixtures.
California Energy Commission. What is Energy? Energy Story. http://
www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter01.html (accessed on February 28,
2008). Explanation of the different types of energy.
Gillett, Kate, ed. The Knowledge Factory. Brookfield, CT: Copper Beech Books,
1996. Provides some fun and enlightening observations on questions
relevant to this topic, along with good ideas for projects and demonstrations.

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13

Chemical Properties

ow many ways can you describe a substance? Two common ways are
by listing its physical properties and its chemical properties. A physical property is a characteristic of a substance that you can detect with your
senses, such as its color, shape, size, smell, taste, texture, temperature,
density, or volume. For example, a lemon is yellow, oval-shaped, and
smaller than a grapefruit. It has a sharp smell and a rough texture.
A physical change changes a physical property but does not change the
identity or molecular makeup of the substance. One example of a physical
change is salt crystals dissolving in water, which changes their shape. When
the water evaporates, you can see the salt crystals again, unchanged by being
dissolved in the water. Tearing paper into small pieces is also a physical
change. The bits of paper look different, but they are still composed of the
same molecules as when they were joined together.
A chemical property is the ability of a substance to react with other
substances or to decompose. For example, a chemical property of iron is
that it reacts with oxygen and rusts. A chemical property of a substance
allows it to undergo a chemical change. A chemical change is the change of
one or more substances into another substance. A chemical change is also
called a chemical reaction.
During some chemical reactions, two or more substances are combined to form one new substance. An example is oxygen combining with
iron to form rust. This is called a synthesis reaction. During other chemical
reactions, one substance is broken down into two or more new substances.
An example of this is hydrogen peroxide, which is used to treat small cuts. It
breaks down into oxygen and water in the presence of light, which is why
hydrogen peroxide is stored in dark bottles. This is called a decomposition
reaction. A chemical reaction can be very quick, such as paper burning, or
very slow, such as food digesting in your stomach.
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Chemical Properties

Ice melting is an example of a


physical change. FI EL DM ARK
PUB LI CAT IO NS.

Burning is a chemical change


or reaction, producing new
substances. Some substances are
more flammable than others.
A P IM AG ES.

164

What are some examples of chemical


properties? Chemical properties include flammability (the ability to catch on fire), toxicity (the
ability to be poisonous), oxidation (the ability to
react with oxygen, which causes apple slices to turn
brown and iron to rust), radioactivity (spontaneously emitting energy in the form of particles or
waves by the disintegration of their atomic nuclei),
and sensitivity to light (which causes newspaper to
turn yellow).
Being acidic or basic is another kind of
chemical property. An acid is a substance that can
react with, or corrode, other substances. A base is a substance that feels slippery
when dissolved in water. When an acid and a base are combined, they react
chemically with each other to produce new substances: a salt and water.
Many foods contain acids, including tomatoes, lemons, oranges, and
carbonated soft drinks. For most people, eating the small amounts of acid in
these foods does not cause a problem. In fact, the hydrochloric acid in our
stomachs helps produce the chemical reaction called digestion. However, the
acid in tomatoes reacts so strongly with aluminum
that foods containing tomato sauce should not be
stored in aluminum foil. The acid in tomatoes can
actually burn holes in the foil.
Acids can also damage the environment.
Burning coal produces nitric and sulfuric acids
that combine with the water vapor in the air to
create acid rain. Acid rain burns trees and plants.
It can cause lakes and rivers to become so acidic
that fish and plants can no longer survive there.
Many cleaning products are bases, including
soaps, drain cleaners, and ammonia. Basic substances, too, can damage the skin and eyes. For example, some people who breathe ammonia fumes get
nosebleeds as the fumes react with the sensitive
tissues in their noses.
What happens during a chemical
reaction? In a chemical reaction, the substances
you begin with are called reactants. The new
substances that are formed are called products.
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Chemical Properties

The explosion of fireworks


produces heat, light, and sound
energy in an exothermic
reaction. PHO TO R ES EA RCH ER S I NC.

For example, when the acetic acid in vinegar and baking soda (reactants)
are combined, the products are bubbles of carbon dioxide gas, water, and
sodium acetate.
The chemical properties of the reactants determine what happens
during the reactionand how quickly it happens. For example, one
chemical property of magnesium is that it reacts strongly with hydrochloric
acid to produce bubbles of hydrogen gas. Not all metals have this property.
Dipping a strip of copper into hydrochloric acid produces no hydrogen
bubbles. Dipping zinc into the acid results in some bubbles, but fewer than
for the magnesium.
In the same way, iron reacts strongly with oxygen to produce rust.
However, other metals, such as silver and gold, do not react with oxygen (do
not have this chemical property) and so do not rust when exposed to the air.
Many chemical reactions produce energy. For example, when something burns, it produces heat energy. Thus, smoke is one sign of a chemical
reaction. Other signs of chemical reactions include foaming, a smell, a
sound, and a change in color. A chemical reaction that releases heat or light
energy is called an exothermic reaction. Examples include fireworks explosions, luminescent light sticks, and the digestive process in your body.
Some chemical reactions absorb heat or light energy and are called
endothermic reactions. One example is the way green plants absorb
sunlight and change it into the chemical energy in sugar and in oxygen.
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Chemical Properties

WORDS TO KNOW
Acid: Substance that when dissolved in water is
capable of reacting with a base to form salts and
release hydrogen ions.

Exothermic reaction: A chemical reaction that


releases heat or light energy, such as the
burning of fuel.

Base: Substance that when dissolved in water is


capable of reacting with an acid to form salts and
release hydrogen ions.

Hypothesis: An idea phrased in the form of a


statement that can be tested by observation
and/or experiment.

Chemical change: The change of one or more


substances into other substances.
Chemical property: A characteristic of a substance
that allows it to undergo a chemical change.
Chemical properties include flammability and
sensitivity to light.
Chemical reaction: Any chemical change in which
at least one new substance is formed.
Control experiment: A set-up that is identical to the
experiment but is not affected by the variable
that affects the experimental group.
Decompose: To break down into two or more
simpler substances.
Decomposition reaction: A chemical reaction in
which one substance is broken down into two or
more substances.
Endothermic reaction: A chemical reaction that
absorbs heat or light energy, such as photosynthesis, the production of food by plant cells.

Luminescent: Producing light through a chemical


process.
Physical change: A change in which the substance
keeps its molecular identity, such as a piece of
chalk that has been ground up.
Physical property: A characteristic that you can
detect with your senses, such as color and
shape.
Product: A compound that is formed as a result of
a chemical reaction.
Reactant: A compound present at the beginning
of a chemical reaction.
Synthesis reaction: A chemical reaction in which
two or more substances combine to form a new
substance.
Variable: Something that can change the results
of an experiment.

In the two experiments that follow, you will have an opportunity to


produce chemical reactions by using the chemical properties of certain substances. In one experiment, you will combine white glue and borax (a mineral
that acts as a laundry booster) to create an entirely new substance. In the second
experiment, you will combine water, iodine, and oil to see what kind of
chemical reaction occurs. The more you understand about chemical reactions,
the better you will understand the workings of the world aroundand
insideyou.
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EXPERIMENT 1
Slime: What happens when white
glue and borax mix?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the variables
in this experiment:

mix two substances to see if a chemical reaction


occurs. The chemical name of one of the substan the amounts of the substances used in the
ces, white glue, is polyvinylacetate. You will mix
actual experiment and the control
the polyvinylacetate with borax, a laundry booster
experiment
(sodium borate). Borax is a natural mineral, found
the length of time the mixtures are shaken
in the ground. Its made of boron, sodium, oxyIf you change more than one variable between
gen, and water. It is used to strengthen the cleanthe actual experiment and the control experiing power of laundry detergents.
ment, you will not be able to determine which
To begin the experiment, make an educated
variable affected the results.
guess about what will happen when you combine
these two substances. Will there be a chemical
reaction? Will it produce a new substance? If so,
what might the substance look like? This guess, or
prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be
something you can test through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible
hypothesis for this experiment: Mixing polyvinylacetate with borax will
create a chemical reaction and produce a new substance.
In this experiment, the variable you will change is the mixing of the two
substances, and the variable you will measure (or examine) is the product of
this mixture. As a control experiment, you will observe a sample of polyvinylacetate that is not mixed with borax to see if a chemical reaction occurs.
If only the mixture with the borax in it produces a new substance, your
hypothesis will be supported.
Level of Difficulty Easy/moderate.
Materials Needed

white glue
water
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How to Experiment Safely


Wear goggles to protect your eyes from any
splashes. Do NOT taste any mixtures or the
product that results from the chemical reaction.
Avoid getting the product from this experiment
on clothing, carpeting, or furniture, as it might
leave a stain.

food coloring
3 jars with lids
borax
labels
spoons
measuring spoons
sealable plastic bag
goggles

Approximate Budget Up to $5.


Timetable 10 minutes to set up; 1 hour to

observe.
Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 7: Use a spoon to scrape the


wet borax mixture into the
experiment jar. GA LE G RO UP.

168

1. Measure 3 tablespoons (44 milliliters) of water and the same


amount of white glue into one jar.
2. Add several drops of food coloring to the jar.
3. Close the jar and shake the mixture vigorously until the glue
dissolves in the water. Label the jar experiment.
4. Repeat Steps 1 to 3, using another jar, and label this jar control.
5. In the third jar, put 3 tablespoons (44 milliliters) of water. Slowly
pour in 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) of
borax. Allow the mixture to settle for a
minute.
6. Carefully pour the excess water from the
third jar down a sink drain.
7. Use a spoon to scrape the wet borax
mixture into the experiment jar.
8. With the lids closed, shake both the experiment and control jars for at least two
minutes.
9. Record your observations of the experiment jar and the control jar in a table
similar to the one illustrated. Wait half
an hour and record them again. After
another half an hour, record your final
observations.
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Chemical Properties

Step 9: Recording table for


Experiment 1. GA LE G ROU P.

10. Open the experimental jar and remove the product you have
created. Observe and experiment with its new physical properties.
11. Store your slime in the sealable plastic bag to keep it from
spoiling.
Summary of Results Study your observations and

decide whether your hypothesis was correct. Did


the combination of white glue and borax produce
a chemical reaction? How do you know? Did the
same reaction occur in the control jar without the
borax?
What happened here? In a liquid form, the
molecules in polyvinylacetate are separate,
allowing the glue to flow. When you added the
borax, a chemical reaction caused the molecules
in the white glue to wrap around each other,
forming a soft ball. The combination of the
two substances produced an entirely new substance that looks and feels like slime.
Write a paragraph summarizing your findings and explaining whether they support your
hypothesis.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Step 10: Observe and


experiment with the slime
you have created. G ALE
GRO UP .

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Chemical Properties

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the amount of iodine added to the water
in the experiment
the temperature of the ingredients (they
will remain at room temperature to
control this variable)
the kind of oil used (other kinds of oil
may react differently)
If you change more than one variable, you will
not be able to tell which variable had the most
effect on the chemical reaction.

Step 3: Add about five drops of


iodine to the experiment jar.
GA LE G RO UP.

Change the Variables You can vary this experiment by changing the amount of borax you mix
with the white glue solution. Your products will
range from sticky slime, to a bouncy ball, to a
very hard ball.
You might also experiment with other types of
glue, such as gel glue and washable glue, to see if
they form the same kind of product when mixed
with borax.

EXPERIMENT 2
Chemical Reactions: What
happens when mineral oil,
water, and iodine mix?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will

mix water with iodine and then add mineral oil to


see whether a chemical reaction occurs. Remember the possible signs of a chemical reaction: the production or absorption
of heat or light energy, smoke, bubbles of gas, a smell, a sound, and a
change in color.
You know that water and oil do not mix. Instead, they remain as
separate layers. You probably also know that a combination of water and oil
does not produce any sign of a chemical reaction. If such a reaction is to
occur, it must be caused by the iodine. Make an educated guess about the
outcome of this experiment. This guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A
hypothesis should explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and
measurable. It must be something you can test
through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct.
Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: Iodine will cause a chemical reaction
when mixed with mineral oil and water.

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In this case, the variable you will change is the


presence of iodine. The variable you will measure
or observe is evidence of a chemical reaction. As
your control experiment, you will combine mineral oil and water, without adding iodine, and
watch for signs of a chemical reaction. If a change
occurs only in the mixture with the iodine, your
hypothesis will be supported.

How to Experiment Safely


Wear goggles to protect your eyes from
possible splashes of iodine. Avoid getting iodine
or mineral oil on your clothing or furniture, as it
will stain.

Level of Difficulty Easy/moderate.


Materials Needed Note: All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2 jars with lids, such as peanut butter jars


labels
water
a container of iodine with a dropper
mineral oil
measuring cups
goggles

Approximate Budget $5 for iodine and mineral oil; other materials

should be available in the average household.

Step 4: Recording table for


Experiment 2. GA LE G ROU P.
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Chemical Properties

Timetable 30 minutes.

Troubleshooters Guide
Below is a problem that may arise during this
experiment, a possible cause, and a way to
remedy the problem.
Problem: The mixture with iodine did not
change color.
Possible cause: You did not shake it long
enough. Shake it some more and observe what
happens.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Label one jar experiment and one jar


control.
2. Pour 14 cup (60 milliliters) of water into
each jar.
3. Add about five drops of iodine to the
experiment jar.
4. Record your observations on a table similar to the one illustrated.
5. Pour 14 cup (60 milliliters) of mineral oil
into each jar. Record your observations in
the table.

6. Shake both jars, one in each hand, for two minutes. Again, record
any changes you observe.
Summary of Results Study the observations on your table and decide
Step 6: Shake both jars, one in
each hand, for two minutes.
GA LE GRO UP.

whether your hypothesis was correct. Did a chemical reaction take place in
the mixture containing iodine? How can you tell? Did a chemical reaction
occur in the mixture without the iodine? Write a paragraph summarizing
your findings and explaining whether they support your hypothesis.
When you shook the mixture containing
iodine, the iodine moved from the water into
the oil, causing a color change, which is evidence of a chemical reaction. If you shake the
experiment jar long enough, all the iodine will
move into the oil, and the water will become
clear again. The iodine causes the chemical
reaction, so the mixture without iodine did
not change.
Change the Variables Here are some ways you

can vary this experiment:


Use other kinds of oil, such as safflower
or peanut oil, to see if the same color
change results.
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Chemical Properties

Use very hot or icy-cold water to see how a


change in temperature affects this chemical
reaction.

PROJECT 3
Chemical Patination: Producing
chemical reactions on metal

How to Experiment Safely


Work in a well-ventilated area because
ammonia can have an odor that may cause
irritation. Wash your hands after the experiment and dispose of the contents carefully.
Never mix ammonia with a substance without
first asking a knowledgeable adult.

A patina is a change in an objects surface layer,


which can occur from natural weathering or a
controlled reaction. Outdoor copper and bronze
are examples of natural greens and browns that are possible. Patinas form
from a chemical reaction called oxidation. Chemical patination is often
used for decorative effect to produce metals that are black, blues, and
greens.
The color a chemical patination produces depends upon the type of
metal and the chemistry of the solutions applied to the metal. It also
depends upon the way the treatment is applied, such as the length of time
and temperature. In the project, you will experiment with chemical
patination on copper to observe how different solutions react with the
metal. In two of the tests, the metal will react with the vapor of the
solution while also reacting with oxygen. For the third test, you will wipe
the solution onto the metal.
Level of Difficulty Moderate, because of the time involved.
Materials Needed

white vinegar
ammonia
salt
lemon juice
measuring cup
small bowl
3 sheets of thin copper, several inches long, available from craft or
art stores
3 lidded plastic containers that the copper sheet fits into
sandpaper
washers, brass nuts, or other metal objects that fit inside the plastic
containers
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Chemical Properties

aluminum foil
cloth
Approximate Budget $12.
Timetable 30 minutes to set up; at least eight

hours to three days to observe changes.


Step-by-Step Instructions

1. If the copper sheets are not clean, wash


with soap and allow them to dry.
2. Lightly sand the copper sheets and wipe
well.
Test 1
Step 3: Place a metal object,
such as a several washers or a
brass nut, on the bottom of the
container. The copper sheet will
sit on the object.
ILL US TRA TI ON B Y TE MA H
NE LS ON.

Step 4: Pour vinegar slightly


below the top of the object.
I LLU ST RAT IO N BY T EM AH
NEL SO N.

3. Place a metal object, such as a several


washers or a brass nut, on the bottom of
the container. The copper sheet will sit on the object. You will
want the sheet resting slightly above the solution. See illustration.
4. Pour vinegar slightly below the top of the object.
5. Place the copper sheet on the washers (or other object) and loosely
cover (do not seal the cover). Leave overnight or for at least eight
hours.
Test 2
6. Place a metal object, such as a several washers or a brass nut, on the
bottom of the container. Again, you will want the sheet resting
slightly above the solution.
7. Pour ammonia slightly below the top of
the object.
8. Place the copper sheet on the washers (or
other object) and loosely cover. Leave
overnight or for at least eight hours.
Test 3
9. In a small bowl, combine one-quarter cup
lemon juice, one-quarter cup table salt,
one-quarter cup household ammonia,
and one-half cup vinegar.

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Chemical Properties

10. Set the third copper sheet on a piece of


aluminum foil. Use the cloth to wipe the
solution onto the sheet.
11. Wait approximately two hours or until
the copper is dry. Apply another coat
and allow to dry. You will need to apply
the solution at least six times.
Summary of Results Record how each of the
copper sheets appear. Describe the colors and deepness of each chemical patination. Where did the
patination occur on the metal? Try scraping the
color off with your fingernail. If you want to try
and reproduce or produce more of one color, make
sure you check with an adult if you are when
making up your solutions.

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept

Troubleshooters Guide
Here is a common problem that you may
experience during this project and tips to
remedy the problems.
Problem: The copper does not change color in
the first two trials.
Possible causes:
1. The copper may not be getting enough
oxygen. Make sure the copper solution is
not sealed completely, and the metal is
not immersed in the solution. Try the
trial again.
2. There may not be enough vapor for the
chemical patination to occur. The lid
might be too loose. Place the lid so it fits
neatly over the container, but do not
seal, and try the test again.

The worldand your own lifedepend on chemical properties and the chemical reactions that
result from them. Consider what you would like
to know about these properties and reactions. For
example, what chemical reactions occur inside your body? Which ones are
essential in manufacturing? What chemical reactions help shape the
landscape?
Check the Further Readings section and talk
with your science teacher or school or community
media specialist to start gathering information on
questions that interest you. As you consider possible experiments, be sure to discuss them with your
science teacher or another knowledgeable adult
before trying them. Combining certain materials
can be dangerous.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original

Ammonia

Record how each of the copper


sheets appear. IL LUS TR ATI ON
BY T EMA H NE LS ON.

Lemon juice
Vinegar, etc

Vinegar

experiment, you need to plan carefully and


think things through. Otherwise, you might
not be sure which question you are answering,
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Chemical Properties

what you are or should be measuring, or what your findings prove or


disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved, and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to
your question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results In your slime and iodine

experiments, your raw data might include tables, drawings, and photographs
of the changes you observed. If you display your experiment, make clear the
question you are trying to answer, the variable you changed, the variable you
measured, the results, and your conclusions. Explain what materials you
used, how long each step took, and other basic information.
Related Projects You can undertake a variety of projects related to chemical

reactions. For example, a number of chemical reactions occur in the kitchen


as food cooks on the stove or bakes in the oven. Breads and cakes rise because
of a chemical reaction. Some medicines for an upset stomach depend on
chemical reactions to cause fizz in a glass of water. You can even make pennies
turn green because of a chemical reaction!

For More Information


Gardner, Robert. Science Projects about Chemistry. Hillside, NJ: Enslow Publishers,
1994. Focuses on experiments in causing and analyzing chemical reactions.
Mebane, Robert, and Thomas Rybolt. Adventures with Atoms and Molecules.
Hillside, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 1991. Clearly describes 30 doable
experiments in chemistry and chemical reactions.
VanCleave, Janice. A+ Projects in Chemistry. New York: Wiley and Sons, 1993.
Outlines experiments that show chemical reactions relating to the weather,
biochemistry, electricity, and other topics.

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14

Chemosenses

eople depend on taste and smell to recognize a delicious meal, but these
senses also play a key part in helping keep us alive. Both senses can warn
us of trouble and both are linked to what we eat. Pleasant tastes and smells
ensure that a person or animal continues to eat and acquire energy from
foods. Unpleasant tastes and smells are one way to ensure a person does not
eat poisons or other materials that can cause harm.
People get information about the world around them through their
senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell. Each of these five senses is
tuned to a specific sensation. You are always using at least one of your senses.
The senses send messages to the brain, which processes the information.
Taste and smell belong to the chemical-sensing system group, known as
chemosenses, which means that the sense is stimulated by specific chemicals.
These chemicals trigger a nerve signal to the brain that then reads the
signal.
How taste works When people say something tastes good, they are
usually referring to the flavor of the food or drink. Flavor is a combination
of taste, smell, texture, and other characteristics of the food itself, such as
temperature. The sense of taste is complex because it is so intricately linked
with flavor and weaves in many of the other senses, especially the sense of
smell. There are five basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami
(pronounced oo-MAM-ee). Umami was described in the early 1900s, but
only in the late 1990s did food researchers officially recognize it as a distinct
taste. Umami is the taste that occurs when foods with the protein glutamate
are eaten. Glutamate is found in meat, fish, and the flavor-enhancing
chemical monosodium glutamate, or MSG.
Humans get the sensation of taste through their taste cells, which lie
within the taste bud. The average person has about 10,000 taste buds.
People regenerate new taste buds every three to ten days. As people grow
177

Chemosenses

Tongue

Pore
Microvilli

Taste buds are onion-shaped


structures located primarily on
a persons tongue. G AL E
GRO UP.

older their taste buds regenerate at a slower rate,


causing their sense of taste to lessen. An elderly
person may have only 5,000 taste buds.

Taste buds are onion-shaped structures located


primarily on a persons tongue. The majority of
buds on the tongue are scattered on the papillae
Taste
cell
(pronounced pah-PILL-ee), the small projections
that give your tongue its rough appearance. Taste
signal travels
to brain
buds are also located on the throat, roof of the
mouth, and pharynx, but the buds on your tongue
provide most of your taste experience. Each taste
bud is made up of about 50 to 150 taste cells. Every cell has a fingerlike
extension called a microvilli that connects with an opening at the top of the
taste bud, called the taste pore.
For food to have taste, its chemicals need to reach your taste cells. The
instant you take a bite of food, saliva or spit in the mouth starts breaking
down the foods chemical components. These components, or molecules,
travel through the pores in the papillae to bind to specific taste cells. The
chemicals cause a change in the taste cell, sending a signal via nerves to the
brain, which processes the signals.

In order for food to have taste,


its chemical components need to
reach the taste cells in your
mouth. COP YR IG HT # K EL LY
A. Q UI N.

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The chemical reaction in the taste cells varies


depending on the taste group involved. For example, salty foods trigger a change in taste cells when
enough sodium (the main component of salt)
molecules enter the cells through the microvilli.
Odor
Molecules
Each taste cell has the ability to recognize different
taste groups, yet taste cells specialize in processing
one particular group. Researchers have found that
taste buds with common taste perceptions may be
Tongue
bunched together on the papillae. Many of the
taste buds more sensitive to bitterness, for example, are located on the back of the tongue. This can cause an automatic gagreflex to help prevent poisoning if something too bitter is ingested.

Olfactory
Bulb

Olfactory
Epithelium

Food

How tastes and smells are


recognized. Food and odor
molecules attach to olfactory
cells that send signals to the
brain. GAL E GR OUP .

Smells at work: Lime or lemon? It is the olfactory sense, or sense of


smell, that plays a key role in determining your perception of how tasty
something is, or its flavor. Flavor is so strongly linked to the olfactory
sense that researchers estimate 7075% of what humans perceive as taste
actually comes from the sense of smell.
Special olfactory cells, located inside the uppermost part of the nose,
recognize specific odors. These odors, or chemical molecules, enter the nose
and rise upward until they reach the olfactory epithelium, a postage-stampThe olfactory epithelium. Odor
molecules bind to specific
size area that contains olfactory receptor cells. Olfactory receptor cells are
receptors on the cilia, which
nerve cells, and each cell lasts about four to five weeks before it is replaced
triggers a chemical signal in the
with a new one. These cells have hairlike projections called cilia that are
receptor cell. The cell then sends
sensitive to odor molecules. A specific odor molecule dissolves in the mucus
its signal to the olfactory bulb of
of the nose. Mucus is a slippery substance that protects and moistens. The
the brain, and then on to other
odor molecule binds to specific receptors on the cilia, which trigger a
areas of the brain that
chemical signal in the receptor cell. The cell then sends its signal to the
recognize it as a specific odor.
olfactory bulb of the brain, and then on to other areas of the brain that
GAL E GR OU P.
recognize it as a specific odor. There can be hunReceptor
Cell
dreds of receptors that take part in recognizing
one smell.
Olfactory cells can recognize thousands of different odors. The chemical molecules reach the
cells through the air you breathe and the food
you eat. When you put food in your mouth,
Mucus
chemicals are released while you are chewing.
Molecules from the food travel through the passage
between your nose and mouth to the olfactory
Odor Molecules
Cilia
epithelium.
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Chemosenses

If a persons nose is congested,


mucus in the nasal passages can
block the odor molecules from
reaching the olfactory cells;
thus, the brain receives no
signal telling it what the object
smells like. CO PY RI GHT #
K ELL Y A . QU IN.

If a persons nose is congested, mucus in the


nasal passages can block the odor molecules from
reaching the olfactory cells. This will block surrounding smells, and food will lose much of its
flavor.
All senses are not created equal Because the
chemosenses are complex mechanisms, there are
several reasons why people have varying preferences
for smells and tastes. A persons genetics (physiological makeup), upbringing, and familiarity with
specific smells and foods can influence his or her
likes and dislikes. Odor molecules transmit their
signals to areas of the brain that are involved with emotional behavior and
memory. When a person smells something, it often brings back memories
associated with the object, and those memories can help shape a persons
perception of that smell.
Genetics is also a factor in tasting ability. In the early 1930s researchers
discovered an inherited trait that determined peoples sensitivity to a bitter
taste. They classified people as tasters or nontasters based on whether they
were able to detect a specific chemical, which tastes bitter to some people and
tasteless to others. Later research found that some people are especially
sensitive to this bitter taste. These people are born with more than the average
number of taste buds and, as a result, perceive tastes more intensely than the
average person. For these supertasters bitter tastes more bitter, sweet tastes
sweeter, and salt tastes saltier. Researchers theorize that about 25% of the
people in the United States are supertasters, 25% are nontasters, and the
remaining 50% are regular tasters.
In the two experiments that follow, you will use the scientific method to
examine if genetics affects the sense of taste and how closely linked these two
senses are.

EXPERIMENT 1
Supertasters: Is there a correlation between
the number of taste buds and taste
perception?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will test varying concentra-

tions of three tastes on people to predict whether they fall into the category
of nontaster, taster, or supertaster. Then you will test your hypothesis by
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WORDS TO KNOW
Chemosense: A sense stimulated by specific
chemicals that cause the sensory cell to transmit
a signal to the brain.

Olfactory epithelium: The patch of mucous


membrane at the top of the nasal cavity that
contains the olfactory (smell) nerve cells.

Cilia: Hairlike structures on olfactory receptor cells


that sense odor molecules.

Olfactory receptor cells: Nerve cells in the olfactory


epithelium that detect odors and transmit the
information to the brain.

Control experiment: A setup that is identical to the


experiment, but is not affected by the variable
that acts on the experimental group.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement
that can be tested by observation and/or
experiment.
Microvilli: The extension of each taste cell that
pokes through the taste pore and first senses
the chemicals.
Mucus: A thick, slippery substance that serves as a
protective lubricant coating in passages of the
body that communicate with the air.

Papillae: The raised bumps on the tongue that


contain the taste buds.
Saliva: Watery mixture with chemicals that
lubricates chewed food.
Supertaster: A person who is extremely sensitive to
specific tastes due to a greater number of taste
buds.
Taste buds: Groups of taste cells located on the
papillae that recognize the different tastes.

Olfactory: Relating to the sense of smell.

Taste pore: The opening at the top of the taste bud


from which chemicals reach the taste cells.

Olfactory bulb: The part of the brain that processes olfactory (smell) information.

Variable: Something that can affect the results of an


experiment.

counting the number of papillae of each person to estimate the number of


taste buds each person has. If a person has more than twenty-five in a
punch-hole-size area, then he/she is classified as a supertaster, five or less is
considered a nontaster, and anywhere in between is an average taster.
Before you begin, make an educated guess about the outcome of this
experiment based on your knowledge of the sense of taste. This educated guess,
or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
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A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
What Are the Variables?
through further investigation. Your experiment
will prove or disprove your hypothesis. Here is one
Variables are anything that might affect the
possible hypothesis for this experiment: People
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
who are more sensitive to tastes will have a greater
number of taste buds.
The participants in the experiment
Variables are anything you can change in an
The cleanliness of the persons palette
experiment. In this case, the variable you will change
before the experiment
will be the concentration of the solutions. The
The size of the paper hole
variable you will measure will be the number of
The concentration of the taste
taste buds.
The substance people are tasting
Setting up a control experiment will help you
In other words, the variables in this experiment
isolate each variable and measure the changes in
are everything that might affect the relationship
the dependent variable. Only one variable will
between a persons sensitivity to taste and the
change between the control and the experimental
number of his or her taste buds. If you change
setup, and that is the concentration of the solution.
more than one variable at the same time, you
will not be able to tell which variable had the
For the control in this experiment you will use a
most effect on taste.
cup of plain water (tasteless). For your experiment,
you will determine sensitivity to three tastes: bitter,
salty, and sweet.
You will first make a 10% solution for each substance, then dilute the
solutions. Sugar and salt are solids and you will make a 10% weight/weight
(gram/gram) solution. For liquids you will make a 10% volume/volume
(milliliter/milliliter) solution. One gram of water equals 1 ml of water.
You will rate peoples sensitivity to varying concentrations of grapefruit
juice (bitter), sugary water, and salty water. Then you will use blue dye to
color each persons tongues papillae. Because you are relying on human
subjectivity, the more people you test, the more accurate your results.
Level of Difficulty Easy to Moderate.
Materials Needed

182

grapefruit juice
sugar
salt
water
measuring spoons
gram scale
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Chemosenses

3 to 4 helpers
16 small disposable paper cups
light-colored pen
blue food coloring
cotton swabs
piece of paper
hole punch (standard 1/4-inch size)
mirror
magnifying glass

Approximate Budget $5.

How to Experiment Safely


Check with an adult before you or your helpers
taste any of the foods to make sure none of you
has any allergies to the foods, or other dietary
restrictions.
Use each cotton swab only once, one per
person. Tasters should also use a fresh cup for
their water. You might want to wear an old shirt
in case any dye should spill.

Timetable 1 hour.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Measure out 10 tablespoons (150 milliliters of water) and pour into a


cup. Add 4 teaspoons (15 grams) of sugar for a total volume of 150
ml and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Write on the cup: 10%
sugar. Repeat this process for the salt, labeling the cup: 10% salt.
2. Measure out 9 tablespoons (135 ml) water and pour into a cup. Add
1 tablespoon (15 ml) grapefruit juice for a total volume of 150 ml
and stir thoroughly. Label the cup: 10% grapefruit.
3. Dilute each solution by 10%. From the sugar solution measure out
1 tablespoon (15 ml) and pour into a clean cup. Add 9 tablespoons
(135 ml) of water and stir until all sugar is dissolved. Label the cup:
1% sugar.
4. To make a 0.1% solution: From the 1% sugar solution measure out
1 tablespoon (15 ml) and pour into a clean cup. Add 9 tablespoons
(135 ml) of water and stir until all sugar is dissolved. Label the cup:
0.1% sugar.
5. To make a 0.01% solution: From the 0.1% sugar solution measure
out 1 tablespoon (15 ml) and pour into a clean cup. Add 9
tablespoons (135 ml) of water and stir until all sugar is dissolved.
Label the cup: 0.01% sugar.
6. To make a 0.001% solution: From the 0.01% sugar solution measure out 1 tablespoon (15 ml) and pour into a clean cup. Add 9
tablespoons (135 ml) of water and stir until all sugar is dissolved.
Label the cup: 0.001% sugar.
7. Repeat this process for the salt solution and the grapefruit juice.
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# of
Papillae

SweetBitter Salty
10%
1%
.1%
.01%
.001%
Step 9: Data chart for
Experiment 1. GAL E GR OU P.

water

8. Place plain water in a cup for the control solution.


9. Create a chart that lists the concentrations and the control on the
left, and the three tastes across the top.
10. Have the taster rinse out his or her mouth with water and make
sure the mouth is relatively dry before beginning.
11. Start with one taste. Switch the five cups around, including the
cup of water, not allowing the taster to see the labels. Have the
taster dip a clean cotton swab into the solution, smear it over his/
her tongue, and wait a few moments. Ask the taster if he/she can
identify a taste. If the taster can identify a taste, make a checkmark
sign in the box; if not, make a x in the box.

Step 17: Look at each tongue


and count the round structures,
the papillae, that are visible in
the paper hole. GAL E GR OU P.

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Supertaster

Nontaster

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12. Have the taster rinse out his/her mouth


with water and repeat the process for all
the dilutions, including the control. Once
the taster has completed one taste, repeat
the process with another taste.
13. When one taster has finished sampling
the three sets of tastes, repeat the process
with another helper. Have a helper mix
the samples so that you can also sample
the dilutions yourself.
14. Punch a hole in a piece of paper for each
taster.
15. Dip a cotton swab in the blue food coloring and have the tasters wipe the blue
swab on the tip of their tongues.
16. Place the paper hole on the blue area of
each tongue.
17. Using a magnifying glass, look at each
tongue and count the round structures, the
papillae, that are visible in the paper hole.
Look in the mirror to count your own papillae. Write down the results for each taster.
Summary of Results Compare the results of each

Troubleshooters Guide
Below are some problems that may occur
during this experiment, some possible causes,
and some ways to remedy the problems.
Problem: A persons responses were inconsistent, sometimes saying he or she could taste
the higher concentration and lower concentrated solution, but not the in-between
solutions.
Possible causes: The person may have been
mixing up tastes. Try repeating the test with
that person, making sure the taster cleans
his/her mouth with water carefully every
time.
Problem: There was no correlation between
number of taste buds and perceived taste.
Possible causes: Human error. Examine the
tasters reaction to the control solution to
ensure that he/she is not mistakenly identifying tastes where there is none. If the taste
of water has a checkmark then try repeating
the experiment with that person, or with
someone else. The more people you test, the
less chance human error will have a statistical
impact on your results.

persons data chart with the number of his or her


taste buds. Did your results support your hypothesis? Did the people who were more sensitive to
tastes have a greater number of taste buds? Could
the people in the nontaster category only taste the higher concentrations, and
the supertasters taste the lower concentrations? Share your results and discuss
if the tasters with the greater number of taste buds have a higher sensitivity to
tastes in general. If there are any supertasters, do they have a strong dislike for
broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower (bitter tastes) and for strong sweet tastes
such as frosting?
Change the Variables Try repeating the experiment (with new helpers)

using different concentrations of the solutions, both higher and lower, to get
an increased number of data points. You can also change the type of bitter
solution you use (for example, a beverage with caffeine in it or tonic water).
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What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
The participants in the experiment
The cleanliness of the persons palate
before the experiment
The substance people are tasting
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the relationship
between a persons ability to recognize foods by
their smell and taste. If you change more than
one variable at the same time, you will not be
able to tell which variable had the most effect
on identifying the foods.

Another variable you can change is to replace one


of the tastes with the sour taste (lemon juice).
Always check with an adult before you or anyone
else tastes any of the solutions to make sure there
are no dietary restrictions.

EXPERIMENT 2
Smell and Taste: How
does smell affect
the sense of taste?
Purpose/Hypothesis Humans can perceive only

five tastes, but can recognize thousands of smells.


In this experiment you will test how closely the
two chemosenses, the sense of smell and taste, are
related. Blocking each sense independently, you
will test and identify foods to determine which of
the two senses sends the clearer message to the
brain on what you are eating. You will use foods
that have similar textures so that the feel of the food in your mouth is not
a factor.
Before you begin, make an educated guess about the outcome of this
experiment based on your knowledge of the sense of taste. This educated
guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these
things:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through further investigation. Your experiment will
prove or disprove your hypothesis. Here is one possible hypothesis for this
experiment: Humans need both the sense of smell and taste working
together to identify foods.
Variables are anything you can change in an experiment. In this case, the
variable you will change will be which sense or senses you use. The variable
you will measure will be the identification of the food. You will test each sense
separately, then together.
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Level of Difficulty Easy.


Materials Needed

onion
raw potato
roll of flavored candy
chocolate ice cream
strawberry ice cream
knife
four spoons
helper

How to Experiment Safely


Check with an adult before you or your helpers
taste any of the foods to make sure none of you
has any allergies to the foods, or other dietary
restrictions. Use fresh utensils if more than one
person conducts this experiment. Always use
caution when working with any sharp objects,
such as the knife.

Approximate Budget $5.


Timetable About 20 minutes.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Carefully cut off a small piece of the onion and potato and then cut
each into even smaller pieces. Place each on a separate spoon.
2. Ready spoonfuls of the chocolate ice cream and strawberry ice
cream.
3. Set out two different-flavored hard candies; (e.g., one green and
one red).
4. Make a chart listing the foods across the top and writing Smell,
Taste, and Both down the page on the left.
5. Close your eyes and hold your nose tightly. Have your helper hand
you the spoons one by one, in groups of two: onion and potato,
chocolate and strawberry ice creams, and
red and green hard candies. Taste each one
and say what you think it isdont peek.
6. Have your helper write down what you
guessed.
7. Keeping your eyes closed, have your partner refill the spoons and again hand you
the spoons in the same groups of two as
before. This time, only smell what is on
the spoon and say what it is.
8. Have your helper write down what you
guessed.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Step 5: Block your sense of smell


while tasting the food. G AL E
GRO UP .

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Chemosenses

Troubleshooters Guide
Below is a problem that may occur during this
experiment, some possible causes, and some
ways to remedy the problem.
Problem: Results were not as hypothesized.
Possible causes: Make sure you do not have a
cold or are congested during this experiment.
Always make sure the utensils are clean.
Make sure you dice the potato and onion into
small enough pieces so that they have the
same feel on the tongue.

9. Repeat the procedure, keeping your eyes


closed, this time using both your sense of
taste and smell. Have your helper write
down what you guessed.
Summary of Results Examine your results and

determine whether your original hypothesis was


correct. Which sense identified the correct flavor
more often? Did one sense tell your brain the
specific food you were eating? Did you need both
senses working together to identify the flavors?
Summarize the results of your experiment.
Change the Variables You can vary this experi-

ment several ways. For example, why is it that you


are keeping your eyes covered during this experiment? The sense of vision
plays a significant role in identifying foods. People have expectations that
certain colors will relate to specific flavors, such as a green jellybean tasting
like lime, even when the flavor is different than expected. Try putting
different-flavored fruit juices in dark cups and testing how much of an
impact your sense of vision has on your taste perception.
You can also try holding only half your nose, to see how much of an
impact half of your olfactory receptors have on your taste perception.
Modify the Experiment This experiment uses single food tastings to

examine how the sense of smell and taste are used to recognize food.
You can modify this experiment by conducting multiple food tastings to
examine sensory adaptation. Sensory adaptation is when the sensitivity of
the receptors decreases after repeated exposure to the same taste, smell, or
other experience.
For you to explore how sensory adaptation affects your senses, you
will need a glass of strong salt water and sugar water, along with plain
water. You will also need a helper. Ask your helper to take a small sip of
the sugar water and write down the taste. It should taste extremely
sweet. Now ask your helper to gargle with the sugar water for at least
30 seconds. After spitting out the water, have your helper take another
small sip of the sugar water and ask how it tastes? Repeat the gargling
and sip. Again, ask the helper to identify the taste. Is there a difference
in how strong it tastes?
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Repeat the steps, except have your helper drink several large sips of
plain water after gargling. Rinsing the mouth with water should refresh
the receptors. When your helper now takes a sip of the sugar water, can he
or she better recognize the taste? Does is have the strength as the first sip?
Repeat this entire process with the salt water. Compare the taste experiences with and without drinking pure water. Try the experiment on
yourself. You can explore whether you need more or less time to sensitize
your receptors to the taste.

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept If you are interested in the

senses of taste and smell, there are many other possible experiments and
projects. Because taste has a genetic component, you can try repeating
Experiment 1 for groups of families. Compare family members reactions
to different tastes and their number of taste buds to each other. Then
compare that data to a different family. Are members of one family more
likely to all be either tasters, nontasters, or supertasters?
If you are interested in the sense of smell, you can examine the
sensitivity of the olfactory sense by collecting and testing different concentrations of scents. Is there a genetic component to the sense of smell? How
is the sense of smell different in other species from that of humans? What
are some possible explanations for this?
Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science
teacher or librarian to start gathering information on any questions that
interest you.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original experiment, you need to

plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not be
sure what question you are answering, what you are or should be measuring, or what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State your hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to your
question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
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Chemosenses

Recording Data and Summarizing the Results Your data should include
charts, such as the ones you did for these experiments. They should be
clearly labeled and easy to read. You may also want to include photos,
graphs, or drawings of your experimental setup and results. If you have done
a nonexperimental project, explain clearly what your research question was
and illustrate your findings.
Related Projects Besides completing your experiments, you could pre-

pare a model that demonstrates a point that you are interested in with
regard to the chemosenses. For example, you could construct a model of
the brain and illustrate the pathway of the taste and olfactory cells sending
signals as they travel to certain parts of the brain. You could also try a
similar dilution experiment with smell, observing the effect of varying
dilutions of an odor, such as a perfume or a beverage. The effect of
temperature also has an effect on smell, and you could chart peoples
perception of an odor that is cold, room temperature, and warm.

For More Information


Neuroscience for Kids. http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/chsense.html
(accessed March 5, 2008). Clear explanations and activities of the
chemosenses.
Rouhi, Maureen I. Unlocking the Secrets of Taste. Chemical and Engineering
News. September 10, 2001. http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/7937/7937
taste.html (accessed March 5, 2008). Article on recently identified taste
receptors and the molecules that stimulate them.
The Vivid World of Odors. Howard Hughes Medical Institute. http://hhmi.
org/senses/d110.html (accessed March 5, 2008). Report from the Howard
Hughes Medical Institute on odor and taste receptors.
Your Sense of Smell. Your Gross and Cool Body. http://yucky.discovery.com/
flash/body/pg000150.html (accessed March 5, 2008). Introductory
information on smells and how the sense works.

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15

Chlorophyll

hlorophyll is the green pigment that gives leaves their color. Acting as
a solar collector, chlorophyll absorbs light energy from the sun and
traps it. This trapped energy is stored, then used to form sugar and oxygen
out of carbon dioxide from the air and water from the soil. This extraordinary process is called photosynthesis. It is the way a plant makes its
own food. But the key to this process is chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll clusters in
the leaves of this healthy
rhododendron plant trap
solar energy. PH OTO
RE SE AR CHE RS I NC .

Whats this green thing? Pierre Joseph Pelletier and Joseph Biernaime Caventou were French chemists who worked together in the early
nineteenth century in a new field called pharmacology, the science of
preparing medical drugs. These chemists would later discover quinine,
caffeine, and other specialized plant products. In 1817, however, they
isolated an important plant substance they called chlorophyll, from the
Greek words meaning green leaf. Scientists first thought that chlorophyll was distributed throughout plant cells. But
in 1865 the German botanist Julius von Sachs
discovered that this pigment is found within sacs
called chloroplasts. Chlorophyll molecules are
arranged in clusters within these chloroplasts.
One-celled plants, such as algae, contain
chlorophyll. They live in water, growing near the
surface and the light, or on moist surfaces. Multicelled plantsusually land plants such as mosses,
ferns, and seed plantshave chlorophyll-loaded
chloroplasts in their stems and leaves. These plants
all need light to activate the chlorophyll. Plants
such as algae require low light, and certain land
plants, such as philodendron, survive well in low
levels of sunlight also. Some houseplants thrive in
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Chlorophyll

artificial light, while other plants require high


levels of sunlight.

An unhealthy rhododendron
plant. If plants do not get
enough light to activate their
chlorophyll clusters, they
cannot make enough food to
survive. PH OT O
RE SEA RC HE RS I NC.

Why leaves change color Pigments are substances that appear colored to the human eye
because of the wavelengths of light they reflect. A
pigment absorbs all other wavelengths of light and
only reflects the wavelength that we see as a color.
For example, a green pigment, like chlorophyll,
absorbs all wavelengths except green. Many different pigments are present in sacs within the plant
cell. There are two related chlorophyll pigments,
chlorophyll A and chlorophyll B. Both appear
green, with just a slight color variation from each
other. Carotene, a yellowish-orange pigment, and
xanthophyll, a yellow pigment, are also present in
most leaves. Some plants have a red color in their
petals, stems, and leaves called anthocyanin. The
different pigments in a plant allow the plant to
absorb different light wavelengths. Overall, the
greenish chlorophyll pigment is the one that is
most plentiful. It is considered a primary pigment,
and the secondary pigments act as a support team to help the plant absorb
more light energy.
Deciduous trees shed their leaves in the autumn. The joining place
where the leaf meets the twig is called an abscission. The first step in the
process that causes leaves to fall occurs when cork cells develop under the
abscission. This cork layer blocks nutrients that travel to and from the leaf.
Then the leaf begins to die.
Because chlorophyll breaks down faster than the other pigments, the
green leaves begin their gradual color change. As the chlorophyll decomposes, the yellow and orange colors from the carotene and xanthophyll
stand out. Trees with anthocyanin pigments show bright red leaves in the
fall. Anthocyanin pigments need high light intensity and sugar content
for their formation, so fiery red leaves usually emerge after bright autumn
days. Cool nights act as a refrigerator, preserving the sugar in the leaves.
Chlorophyll and other pigments are unique in their function as food
makers. Uncovering their presence in plants through experiments will
help you see them.

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WORDS TO KNOW
Abscission: Barrier of special cells created at the
base of leaves in autumn.

Germination: First stage in development of a plant


seed.

Anthocyanin: Red pigment found in leaves,


petals, stems, and other parts of a plant.

Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that


can be tested by observation and/or experiment.

Carbohydrate: Any of several compounds


composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen,
which are used as food for plants and animals.

Pharmacology: The science dealing with the


properties, reactions, and therapeutic values
of drugs.

Carotene: Yellowish-orange pigment present in


most leaves.

Photosynthesis: Chemical process by which plants


containing chlorophyll use sunlight to manufacture their own food by converting carbon dioxide
and water to carbohydrates, releasing oxygen as
a by-product.

Chlorophyll: A green pigment found in plants that


absorbs sunlight, providing the energy used in
photosynthesis.
Chloroplasts: Small structures in plant cells that
contain chlorophyll and in which the process of
photosynthesis takes place.
Chromatography: A method for identifying the
components of a substance based on their
characteristic colors.
Control experiment: A set-up that is identical to
the experiment but is not affected by the
variable that affects the experimental group.

Pigment: A substance that displays a color because


of the wavelengths of light that it reflects.
Variable: Something that can change the results of
an experiment.
Wavelength: The peak-to-peak distance between
successive waves. Red has the longest
wavelength of all visible light, and violet has
the shortest wavelength.
Xanthophyll: Yellow pigment found in leaves.

EXPERIMENT 1
Plant Pigments: Can pigments be separated?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment you will discover what pigments
are present in various plants using chromatography, an identification
technique based on color. You will cut up various plants and boil them
in water, then add a small amount of alcohol to help release the pigments
from the plants.
To begin the experiment, use what you know about chlorophyll and
other pigments found in plants to make an educated guess about what colors
you will find. This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A
hypothesis should explain these things:
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What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the type and part of the plant being used
(Example: carrot roots contain mainly
carotene; carrot leaves contain mainly
chlorophyll.)
the season in which the plant was harvested (Example: if the plant was harvested in the spring, the leaves contain
abundant chlorophyll; in the fall, the
leaves have more carotene, xanthophyll,
and anthocyanin.)
the maturity of the specimen (Example:
leaves from the heart of a celery plant are
yellow from xanthophyll; as leaves
mature, chlorophyll builds up.)
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the colors you
find. If you change more than one variable, you
will not be able to tell which variable had the
most effect on the color.
Note: Do not use flowers, fruit, or roots for this
experiment. They do not contain the pigments
being studied.

How to Experiment Safely


This experiment requires the use of a stove or
bunsen burner to boil the solutions. Use caution
when cooking the solution and ask an adult for
assistance. When handling alcohol, wear
goggles and be careful not to spill it on your skin
or in your eyes. Keep alcohol away from the
stove or open flame.

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the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct.
Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: Primary pigments, such as blue-green
chlorophyll, and secondary pigments, such as yellow-orange carotene, yellow xanthophyll, and red
anthocyanin, are all present in leaves.
In this case, the variable you will change is the
type and part of the plant being tested, and the
variable you will measure is the resulting mix of
colors. A bowl filled with various food colorings
will serve as a control experiment to allow you
measure the effectiveness of the color separation
method. If you find many different colors present
in your experimental solutions, you will know
your hypothesis is correct.
Level of Difficulty Moderate.
Materials Needed

1 cup (236 milliliters) of spinach leaves,


cut up
1 cup (236 milliliters) of parsley leaves,
cut up
1 cup (236 milliliters) of coleus leaves
(houseplant with variegated leaves), cut
up
food coloring (red, blue, and yellow)
filter paper (strong paper towels also will
work)
rubbing alcohol 70%
4 bowls
4 glass cups or beakers
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Chlorophyll

Step 6: Four cups with pigment


solutions (control, spinach,
parsley, and coleus). G AL E
GR OU P.

cooking pot
labels
4 paper clips
measuring spoons and cups
water
goggles

Approximate Budget $10 for the fresh parsley, spinach, and a coleus

plant.
Timetable Approximately 2 hours.

Step 7: Filter paper strip in cup,


held in place with a paper clip.

Step-by-Step Instructions

GAL E GR OU P.

1. Place one cup of water in a pot and bring


it to a boil. Add 20 drops of each color of
food coloring and boil for 10 minutes
more. Remove the pot from stove and
allow to cool. Pour the solution into a
bowl and add 4 tablespoons of alcohol.
Label the bowl #1. This will be your
control solution.
2. Wash the pot and add one cup of water
and bring it to a boil. Add the cut-up
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Troubleshooters Guide
Here are some problems that may occur in this
experiment, some possible causes, and ways to
remedy the problems.
Problem: The pigment does not go up the paper.
Possible cause: The paper is wet. Make sure the
paper is thoroughly dry before inserting it in the
solution. Also make sure the paper is touching
the solution.
Problem: The control experiment worked well,
but the spinach, parsley, and coleus solutions are
very light.
Possible cause: The solutions are too weak.
Place more leaves into the pot and boil the solution longer. Use a low flame, and be cautious
when reheating as the mixture contains alcohol.

spinach leaves. Boil for 10 minutes more.


Remove the pot from stove and allow to
cool. Pour the solution into another bowl
and add 4 tablespoons of alcohol. Label
the bowl #2.
3. Repeat Step 2, substituting parsley for
spinach. Label bowl #3.
4. Repeat Step 2 again, substituting coleus
leaves. Label bowl #4.
5. Cut the filter paper into 1-inch-wide
(2.5-centimeter) strips. These will be
your chromatography papers.
6. Label the cups #1, #2, #3, and #4. Now
pour 0.25 inch (0.6 centimeter) of the
liquid solution from each bowl into the
appropriate numbered cup.
7. Place a filter paper strip into each cup
as illustrated. Use a paper clip to hold
the paper to the cup. Make sure only the
bottom of the filter paper touches the
solution.

8. Leave the experiment undisturbed for 30 to 60 minutes. Notice


how the solution creeps up the filter paper.
9. Stop the experiment when a pigment reaches the top of the filter
paper. Place the pieces of paper on a clean, flat surface to dry.

Sample diagram of
chromatography paper from
one of the solutions. GA LE
GR OU P.

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Summary of Results Make a diagram recording

what colors appeared on your chromatography


papers (see sample diagram). The pigments may
fade over time, so record the results the same
day.
Reflect on your original hypothesis.
Were you able to detect the primary and
secondary pigments present in all the leaves?
Were pigments present in your control
experiment? Which plant(s) contained the
most secondary pigments? Which contained
the most primary pigments?

EXPERIMENT 2
Response to Light: Do
plants grow differently in
different colors of light?

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the type of seedlings being used
the strength of light (wattage)
the wavelengths (colors) of light being
tested
the amount of water given to the
seedlings
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the growth of
the seedlings. If you change more than one
variable, you will not be able to tell which variable most affected the seedlings growth.

Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment you will

test the growth of plant seedlings under different colors of light. Within
the cells of a plants leaves and stems, there are various pigments that react
to light to perform photosynthesis. The pigments vary in color and

Step 1: Set-up of boxes with


aluminum foil and black
plastic. GAL E GR OU P.
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Chlorophyll

concentration. Each pigment absorbs all colors


of light except the color of the pigment itself,
How to Experiment Safely
which is reflected. For example, if a plant contains mostly green pigments such as chlorophyll,
Incandescent light fixtures and bulbs can get
the plant should grow well under all colors of
hot. Do not handle or leave the lights on for
more than 10 hours at a time. Never leave them
light except green because it reflects most of the
on overnight. Keep them a safe distance from
green light without absorbing it. As a result, the
the cellophane filters at all times.
plant is starved for light and cannot perform
the photosynthesis process needed to produce
food and grow.
To begin this experiment, use what you know about chlorophyll and
the pigment colors found in plants to make an educated guess about how
plants will grow under various colors of light. This educated guess, or
prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these things:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through observation. Your experiment will prove or
disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible hypothesis
for this experiment: Seedlings will grow best under white light, because
they can absorb more energy from the wide range of wavelengths present.
They will grow worst under green light, because that is the color of the
dominant pigment contained in their leaves and stems, and most of that
light will be reflected instead of absorbed.
In this case, the variable you will change is the color of the light, and
the variable you will measure is the amount of growth of the seedlings
over a period of several weeks. If the seedlings grow best under white light
and worst under green light, you will know your hypothesis is correct.
Level of Difficulty Moderate. (However, great care of the seedlings must

be taken to ensure their growth.)


Materials Needed

4 boxes, 24 inches (60 centimeters) square in size, open on one


side
aluminum foil
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4 light fixtures with 40-watt white incandescent bulbs, such as


small desk lamps
4 plastic filters about 12 inches (30 centimeters) square, such as
cellophane in clear, green, blue, and red
black plastic cut from a garbage bag
4 shallow trays filled with potting soil
40 bean seeds, such as lima, kidney, or others (Use all of one type.)
water
Note: If you are unable to get light fixtures to use, use natural sunlight
and modify the setup described in the following procedure.
Approximate Budget $30$35 for light fixtures, if necessary, and $5 for

seeds and cellophane.


Timetable Approximately two monthsabout 20 days for the seeds to
germinate, and two to three weeks before the first true leaves appear.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Set up four identical boxes. Line the inside of each box with
aluminum foil. Cover the front opening with black plastic. Cut
a hole in the top, about 10 x 10 inches, (25 x 25 centimeters), to
allow light to enter.
2. Tape a different color plastic filter over
the hole on each box.
3. Position a light fixture approximately 12
inches (30 centimeters) above the opening on each box and aim the light inside
the box.
4. Place a tray of soil into each box and plant
10 seeds slightly below the surface of the
soil. Water gently.
5. Turn the lights on for eight to 10 hours a
day. Monitor the soil moisture and water
gently when needed.
6. Record the seed growth in each box.
Record which seedling is the tallest daily
for one month after the seeds sprout or
until the seedlings reaches the filter.
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Step 3: Light fixture over


opening of box. GA LE G RO UP.

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Summary of Results Make a chart to track the

Troubleshooters Guide
Here is a problem that may arise in this experiment, a possible cause, and a way to remedy it.
Problem: The seeds did not grow.
Possible Cause: The seeds might be too old. You
can try again with new seeds or accept the results
if you think it was the lighting. If they died from
not getting enough water, then try again.

growth of the seedlings. Reflect on your hypothesis.


Were the seedlings more responsive to one color of
light? What color stimulated growth the least? Is
that color the seedlings most dominant pigment?
Summarize your results in writing.

Design Your Own


Experiment
How to Select a Topic Relating to this
Concept All the colors in plants and animals

are due to pigments, which have many functions.


Chlorophylls function is producing energy for photosynthesis. Melanin
is a skin pigment that protects people and animals from harmful solar
radiation.
Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science
teacher or school or community media specialist to start gathering
information on questions that interest you about chlorophyll and other
pigments. As you consider possible experiments, be sure to discuss them
with your science teacher or another knowledgeable adult before trying
them. Some pigments might be dangerous.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original experiment, you need to

plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not be sure

Step 6: Sample seed growth


recording chart. GAL E GR OU P.

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Chlorophyll

what questions youre answering, what you are or


should be measuring, or what your findings prove
or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an
experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying
question behindthe experiment you
propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved, and
select one that will help you answer the
question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to
your question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results Think of how you can

share your results with others. Charts, graphs, and diagrams of the progress
and results of the experiments are very helpful in informing others about
an experiment.

When cool weather comes in


autumn, chlorophyll breaks
down more rapidly than
carotene and xanthophyll,
making leaves such as these look
yellow and orange before they
fall from the tree. P HOT O
RES EA RC HER S I NC.

Related Projects You can create an experiment on pigments by discover-

ing how to extract pigments from their source in nature. Or you could
take an extracted pigment and find a use for it. For example, purple grape
juice can be used as an acid/base indicator.

For More Information


Andrew Rader Studios. Photosynthesis. Raders Biology4kids.com. http://www.
biology4kids.com/files/plants photosynthesis.html (accessed on January 19,
2008). Provides information on plants and photosynthesis.
Halpern, Robert. Green Planet Rescue. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.
Discusses the importance of plants and what can be done to protect plants
that face extinction.
Kalman, Bobbie. How A Plant Grows. New York: Crabtree Publishing, 1997.
Examines the stages of a seed plants development and includes activities on
how to grow plants.
Missouri Botanical Garden. Biology of Plants. www.mbgnet.net/bioplants
(accessed January 19, 2008). Providing information on the growth and life of
plants

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

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16

Color

hen we look at white light, we are seeing all the colors of the rainbow
combined. Our world is filled with color. For humans, colors can
add beauty, convey information, and prompt emotions. For many animals
and plants, color is an essential part of their survival. What color is and how
we perceive it is behind the science of color.

Newton conducted many other


experiments with light and
color. C OR BI S-B ETT MA NN.
RE PR ODU CE D BY
PE RM IS SIO N.

What is color? Color is light energy, which is a series of electromagnetic waves. The waves in visible light are a sliver of the electromagnetic
spectrum. Microwaves, radio waves, and X rays are other types of waves in
the electromagnetic spectrum, but the human eye cannot detect them.
White light is a combination of the colors on the electromagnetic
spectrum. Each color has its own frequency and
wavelength. Frequency is the number of waves
that pass a point every second. The wavelength is
the distance between similar points on the
wave. Red light has the longest wavelength
and violet light the shortest. All the other colors
fall in between.
Experiments with bending light It was the
English scientist Isaac Newton (16421727), who
first proved in 1666 that white light could be
separated into colors. In one now-famous experiment, Newton darkened his room and made a
small slit in the shutters. He placed a glass prism
in front of the thin beam of light and saw a rainbow of colors. This band of colors is called a
spectrum.
Newton conducted many other experiments
with light and color. He demonstrated how the
colors in sunlight could be separated, then
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Color

A rainbow appears because the


moisture in the air or raindrops
are acting as prisms. AP
P HOT O/ WAL LA W AL LA
U NIO N-B UL LET IN , JE FF
HOR NE R.

joined again to form white light. He found that when light hits a prism, it
is bent, or refracted. The wavelength of red light bends the least and the
wavelength of violet light bends the most. The wavelengths cause the
colors to bend and separate from one another in a certain order: red,

Visible Light

Radio Waves

Microwaves

Infared

Ultra Violet

X-rays

wavelength

length of
wavelength
Each color has its own
frequency and wavelength.
I LLU ST RAT IO N BY TEM AH
NEL SO N.

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orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.


Light Refraction
The separation of visible light into its different
colors is called dispersion. The order of light
dispersion is commonly referred to by the more
easily remembered name: ROY G. BIV.
When we see a rainbow it is because the
moisture in the air or raindrops is acting as a
prism
prism. The white light from the sun hits the drop
and bends, dispersing into distinct colors.
In the 1800s, scientists learned that white
light is actually made up of three colors: red,
Isaac Newton first proved in
green and blue. These colors are referred to as primary colors. Primary
1666 that white light could be
colors cannot be separated into other colors. When red, green, and blue
separated into colors.
lightwaves are combined evenly they take the appearance of white light.
ILL US TRA TI ON B Y TE MA H
All the other colors we perceive are mixtures of the three primary colors.
NEL SO N.
What color we see is the color that is least absorbed. An object appears
blue when it absorbs all wavelengths of visible light except blue. When an
object absorbs all the light wavelengths, there is no color for us to see and
the object appears black. Technically, the black of night is not a color, it is
the absence of us seeing any color light at all. (Pigment colors, such as
paints, work by different rules than light. Mixing red, green, and blue light
will produce white; blending red, green and blue paints will form a muddy
black-brown.)
Rods and Cones There are two types of cells in the eye that allow us
to see light: rods and cones. The rods and cones lie in the retina, a layer in
the back of the eye. The cells send nerve impulses to the brain, which the
brain interprets as color and images.
Rods can detect gradations of light, movements, and shapes. In a room that is dimly lit,
rods are what help us see what is in the room.
People have about 120 million rods. Overall, its
the cones that allow us to see color. The eye has
only about six million cones. The cones can perRod
Cone
ceive green, red, or blue but cones do not detect
light that well. Thats why when the room is dark
we cannot see colors as well as a well-lit room.
Iris
Retina
When a persons cones do not work properly the person may be color-blind. There are
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Rods and cones allow us to see


light. I LL UST RA TI ON BY
TEM AH N EL SON .

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Color

WORDS TO KNOW
Cones: Cells in the retina that can perceive color.
Electromagnetic spectrum: The complete array of
electromagnetic radiation, including radio waves
(at the longest-wavelength end), microwaves,
infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X rays, and gamma rays (at the shortestwavelength end).
Electromagnetic waves: Waves of energy that are
part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Hue: The color or shade.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that
can be tested by observation and/or experiment.
Lens: A piece of transparent material with two
curved surfaces that bend rays of light passing
through it.
Nanometer: A unit of length; this measurement is
equal to one-billionth of a meter.
Optics: The study of the nature of light and its
properties.

Primary colors: The three colors red, green, and


blue; when combined evenly they produce
white light and by combining varying amounts
can produce the range of colors.
Prism: A piece of transparent material with a
triangular cross-section. When light passes
through it, it causes different colors to bend
different amounts, thus separating them into
a rainbow of colors.
Refraction: The bending of light rays as they
pass at an angle from one transparent or clear
medium into a second one of different
density.
Retina: The light-sensitive part of the eyeball
that receives images and transmits visual
impulses through the optic nerve to
the brain.
Rods: Cells in the retina that are sensitive to
degrees of light and movement.
Saturation: The intensity of a color.

different degrees and types of color-blindness, but in general, people who


are color-blind can still see some color.
The most common type of color-blindness is in problems with the
red/green cones. When one or more of the cones is not functioning, the
brain cannot distinguish certain colors from one another. Color-blindness
is an inherited trait, which means it is in the genes. It is far more common
in males, affecting an estimated one out of 12 men.
How deep and how bright A red rose, apple, and sunset all may
appear red, but the color of each is slightly different. A colors hue,
saturation, and brightness are all aspects of color that distinguish them
from one another. The hue is the color. Saturation is the intensity of the
color. If grey or black is added to a red than it is less saturated and appears
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more mauve. A pure red is fully saturated.


Brightness is the amount of light in the color.
In the following two experiment you will
explore two aspects of color: how color affects
perception and how heat energy relates to
color.
As you conduct the following two experiments on color, consider what aspects of color
you are curious about and would like to investigate further.

EXPERIMENT 1
Color and Flavor: How much
does color affect flavor
perception?
Purpose/Hypothesis People are used to specific

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of the experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the flavor of the juice
the ingredients in the recipe
the temperature of the food
the way the food is served
information the test subjects are told
about the experiment
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are anything that might affect the flavor perception. If you change more than one variable, you
will not be able to tell which variable had the most
effect on how people perceived the flavor.

colors relating to certain foods or flavors. A


lemon is expected to be yellow, a lime green,
and a strawberry red. Seeing a certain color
sends signals to the brain about what the food will taste like.
In this experiment, you will investigate how color relates to the
perception of flavor. If the color is different than expected, will test
subjects identify the actual flavor? You can manipulate the flavor of a
gelatin by using uncolored fruit juice. By adding food coloring, you
can turn each gelatin a color that is different than its recognizable
color.
The next step is to ask at least three people to taste the gelatin.
In order to keep the experiment unbiased, do not tell the test subjects
what you are testing. You will make up a series of questions, with the
taste or flavor being among them. After hearing the results from
the test subjects, you can observe how color affects the perception
of taste.
To begin your experiment, make an educated guess about color and
flavor perception. This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis.
A hypothesis should explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
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Color

How to Experiment Safely

the variable you will measure


what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct.
Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: Test subjects will not identify the actual
flavor of the colored gelatin.
In this case, the variable you will change is the flavor and the variable
you will measure is peoples perception of the flavor.

Use caution when handling the hot juice. You


may want to ask an adult to help you heating
the juice on the stove.

Level of Difficulty Moderate, due to the time involved in making the

recipe and testing the subjects.


Materials Needed

Step 1: Measure out 1 cup of the


juice, then pour into the
saucepan and bring to a boil.
I LLU ST RAT IO N BY T EM AH
NEL SO N.

6 envelopes of unflavored gelatin


3 different flavors of clear juice, all the same brand (2 cups
of each juice). Apple, grape, pear, lemon, orange, and berry are
some options. Clear juice is sold in some supermarkets
and health food stores. It is also available from companies
online.
food coloring, colors to match the flavors
3 small rectangle or square pans (bread pans or 8-inch square pans
work well)
small saucepan
glass bowl
measuring cup
spoons
knife
stove or microwave
Approximate Budget $10 to $20, depending

upon the available juice.


Timetable Approximately four to five hours total

time making and chilling the gelatin; 30 minutes


testing subjects.
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Step-By-Step Instructions

1. For juice 1: Pour 1 cup of the juice in the


Troubleshooters Guide
saucepan and bring to a boil.
When conducting experiments with food and
2. While the juice heats, pour 1 cup of cold
people, several problems can occur. Here are
juice in a bowl and add the gelatin. As
two problems you may encounter, possible
soon as the cup of juice has boiled pour it
cause, and ways to fix the problem.
into the bowl and stir until all the gelatin
Problem: The gelatin did not taste good.
is dissolved.
Possible cause: Depending upon the juice you
3. Decide what color you want the gelatin.
purchased, you may need to add sugar or
Remember to make it a completely differadd more water. Adapt the recipe until you
ent color than the traditional juice. For
like the way it tastes, and make a new batch.
example, if the juice is strawberry (red)
Problem: Everyone knew immediately the
you could make the color yellow to repgelatins were not natural.
resent lemon. Add the selected food color
Possible cause: You may have added too much
food coloring to make the gelatin look
one drop at a time into the bowl. Stir after
unnatural. You might want to purchase and
each drop until you have a color that
make flavored gelatins and try to match the
appears natural. Write down the color
color.
you selected for the juice.
4. Pour the colored gelatin into the bread
pan.
5. Repeat the process for juice 2 and juice 3, making sure to rinse the
bowl and saucepan before beginning each recipe. Remember to
write down what color you have selected for each flavor juice.
Only you will know!
Step 7: Cut each of the gelatins
6. Place all three pans in the refrigerator and allow to set for two to
into squares and place on a
four hours. It should be firm when you jiggle the pan.
plate. ILL US TRA TI ON B Y
TEM
AH N EL SON .
7. Cut each of the gelatins into squares and
place on a plate.
8. Write down a series of questions: Is the
gelatin too sweet? Is it firm enough? Does
the gelatin have enough flavor? What
flavor does it taste like?
9. Test each subject one at a time, apart
from one another so one does not influence someone else. Tell each test subject
you are testing a recipe and want his or
her opinion. After the subjects taste each
flavor, ask your questions.
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What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the colors along the visible light spectrum
the intensity of the white light being used
the temperature of the room or outside
environment
the surface material the color light
appears
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the temperature of the visible colors visible through the
prism. If you change more than one variable,
you will not be able to tell which variable had the
most effect on the temperature of the colors.

10. Test at least three subjects, or until you


run out of gelatin.
Summary of Results Was there one flavor more

than the others that the test subjects identified


correctly? How sure were the test subjects when
they identified the flavor? Was there one color
more than the others that the subjects could not
identify? Write up a summary of your findings.
Change the Variables You can change other
variables to investigate color and flavor perception. Try the experiment using different foods,
such as colored candies that all actually have the
same flavor. You could also change the color of
the plate and place setting to measure how that
affects food enjoyment or perception.

EXPERIMENT 2
Temperature and Color:
What color has the highest temperature?
Purpose/Hypothesis Light energy also carries heat energy. The different

colors of light energy all have unique wavelengths, and the energy of light
relates to its wavelength. Along the visible spectrum (the range of wavelengths visible to the human eye) the color red has the longest wavelength
and violet has the shortest.
In this experiment you will determine the temperatures of different
colors of light along the visible light spectrum. Using a prism and a white
light, you will separate the white light into the colors of the spectrum,
much like a rainbow. You then will take temperature readings on both
ends of the spectrum: the red and violet ends. The differences in the
temperature readings will allow you to determine how a colors wavelength relates to heat energy. Do you think the color with the longer
wavelength will have lower or higher energy than the color with the
shorter wavelength?
Before you begin the experiment, make an educated guess about the
outcome based on your knowledge of the visible light spectrum and the
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wavelengths of the different colors. This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A
hypothesis should explain these things:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

How to Experiment Safely


There are no safety hazards in this experiment.

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove your hypothesis. Here is one possible hypothesis for this
experiment: The color violet will have the highest temperature reading
because it has the shortest wavelength. Wavelength size decreases as the
energy of the light increases.
In this case, the variable you will change is the color along the
spectrum whose temperature you are measuring. The variable you will
measure is the temperature of the different colors along the spectrum.
Level of Difficulty Moderate.
Materials Needed

large prism or 2 small prisms (approximately 1 inch [2.5 centimeters] thick, available from science stores)
flashlight
digital thermometer
Styrofoam, piece about 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) long, wide
enough to cover the glasses (the Styrofoam holding fruit and vegetables in grocery stores or Styrofoam egg cartons work well)
watch or timer
2 drinking glasses

Steps 1 and 2: Place the


flashlight on the table sideways
and turn on the flashlight.
Position the prism in front of
the flashlight so that it catches
light. I LL UST RA TI ON BY
TEM AH N EL SON .

Approximate Budget $20.


Timetable 1 hour.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Find a table to work on that is steady and


place it against a wall. Place the flashlight
on the table sideways and turn on the
flashlight.
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Color

2. Position the prism in front of the flashlight so that it catches light and produces
a rainbow on the wall behind the table.
(If using two prisms, place one in front of
another at a slight angle.) This can take
some time. Keep moving the prisms until
you get a strong, clear spectrum of color
on the wall.
Step 5: The probe senses the
temperature. I LLU STR AT IO N
BY T EM AH NE LS ON.

3. Set one drinking glass on either side of the


rainbow on the table. One glass should be
in the middle of the red and the other glass should be in the middle
of the violet.
4. Place the Styrofoam on top of the glasses.
5. Note the temperature of the thermometer, which should be at
room temperature. Carefully insert the thermometer through the
Styrofoam so that it is hanging through the Styrofoam. Place its
probe in line with the red color on the spectrum on the wall
behind it. (The probe senses the temperature.)
6. Wait 10 minutes and note the temperature. Remove the Styrofoam with the thermometer still in it and wait for it to return to
room temperature. This may take about 10 minutes.
7. Move the Styrofoam set up so that thermometers probe is in line
with the violet color on the spectrum.
8. After 10 minutes check the temperature and record.
Summary of Results Study the observations of your temperatures and

decide whether your hypothesis was correct. Did you see a slight difference between the temperature of the red and violet colors? Which one had
the higher temperature? What relationship does the temperature have
with the wavelength of the colors? Write up a paragraph of your results.
You may want to include pictures or drawings of your set-up.
Change the Variables You can vary this experiment by measuring the

temperatures of other colors. You can also measure the temperatures of


the non-visible spectrum, just to the left and right of the red and violet
colors. What are these temperatures and how do they relate to what you
know about wavelengths.
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Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept

There are many aspects of the properties of color


you can study. Look at the variety of colors in
your home, foods, artwork, and in nature to
encourage ideas. Consider if you are interested
in exploring color from a physics perspective
and/or from a psychological perspective.
Check the Further Readings section for this
topic, and talk with a science teacher or a knowledgeable adult before finalizing your choice.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original

experiment, you need to plan carefully and think


things through. Otherwise, you might not be sure
what question you are answering, what you are or
should be measuring, or what your findings prove
or disprove. Here are the steps in designing an
experiment:

Troubleshooters Guide
Below are some problems that may occur during
this project, possible causes, and ways to
remedy the problems.
Problem: You could not get the prism to separate the light into a visible spectrum (rainbow).
Possible cause: The light may not be focused
enough. Try to focus the light from the flashlight
by magnifying it with a magnifying lens or shine
the light through a small hole cut out of the
bottom of a soda can. This will help to concentrate the light for the prism. You can also try
using a larger prism.
Problem: There is no temperature difference
between the red and violet colors.
Possible cause: The probe of the thermometer
may not be directly over the light. Make sure
that probe of thermometer is directly in the path
of the red and violet lights as they are shining
against the wall.

State the purpose ofand the underlying


question behindthe experiment you
propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved, and
select one that will help you answer the
question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to
your question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.

Recording Data and Summarizing the Results Your experiment can be

useful to others studying the same topic. When designing your experiment, develop a simple method to record your data. This method should
be simple and clear enough so that others who want to do the experiment
can follow it.
Your final results should be summarized and put into simple graphs,
tables, and charts to display the outcome of your experiment. You might
also want to have color visual displays.
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Related Projects Experiment 1 focused on humans and color perception.


You may want to explore how animals perceive and react to color. An
experiment could focus on what colors different animals can perceive and
how color can affect their lives. Plants also may respond to colors in
different ways. You may want to focus on saturation or hue. How can you
change or measure a colors saturation, for example.
Another aspect you may want to study might be color perception or
color blindness. If you choose either of these topics, experiments might be
how different colors relate to certain emotions or how color-blindness is
inherited. Your project does not have to be an experiment that investigates or
answers a question. It can also be a model, such as Newtons original
experiment with window shutters and a prism.

For More Information


Color and Light. Patterns in Nature. http://acept.asu.edu/PiN/rdg/color/
color.shtml (accessed on April 26, 2008). Detailed information on color and
how we see.
Color Vision and Art. WebExhibits. http://webexhibits.org/colorart (accessed
on April 26, 2008). Information and interactives on color.
Cobb, Vicki and Josh Cobb. Light Action! Amazing Experiments with Optics.
New York: HarperCollins, 1993. Experiments with light and color.
Davidson, Michael W. et al. Light and Color. Molecular Expressions. http://
micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/lightandcolor/index.html (accessed on April
18, 2008).
Farndon, John. Color. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 2001. Experiments
in color.
Hamilton, Gina L. Light: Prisms, Rainbows, and Colors. Chicago: Raintree, 2004.
Seckel, Al. Optical Illusions: The Science of Visual Perception. Buffalo, NY: Firefly
Books, 2006. Collection of optical illusions, with information on the science
of visual perception.

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17

Comets and Meteors

arth is part of a solar system that is filled with celestial objects moving
about. Scientists theorize that many of these objects are materials left over
from when the solar system formedabout 4.6 billion years ago. Comets
and meteors are two such chunks of materials in the solar system. Every so
often these objects are visible to the naked eye as brilliant streaks of light
across the sky. Meteors appear regularly and are sometimes called shooting
stars; comets show themselves with far less frequency. Astronomers look to
these objects to learn more about the universe around Earth and the early
history of the solar system.
Hot snowballs Comets are often referred to as dirty snowballs because
of their makeup: a mixture of ice and dust. They typically move through the
solar system in orbits or revolutions around the Sun ranging from a few years
to several hundred thousand years.
Astronomers theorize there may be more than one trillion comets
zipping about the solar system, yet spotting a comet is rare. Most comets
are located on the outskirts of the solar system in a giant sphere called the
Oort cloud, which surrounds the solar system. The comets in the Oort
cloud can take over a million years to make a single revolution around the
Sun. Occasionally one of these comets is pulled by a nearby star and gets
pushed closer to the Sun. When it approaches the Sun it becomes visible to
astronomers. About a dozen of these new comets are discovered every year.

A few comets have a relatively short orbit. For example Halleys Comet
orbits the Sun about every 76 years. This comet is named after English
astronomer Edmond Halley (16561742), who was the first person to work
out the elliptical orbits of comets. After Halley spotted a comet in 1682, he
started reading through historical records. He found that two previous
comets, in 1531 and 1607, had orbital paths similar to the one he had
witnessed. These three comet sightings, he concluded, were actually the
same object making three appearances. Halley predicted this comet would
215

Comets and Meteors

pass through again in 1758 and, although he did


not live to see it, the comet appeared as predicted.
A tails story For a short time during each
coma
orbit around the Sun, comets can become visible
from Earth. When a comet approaches the Sun,
it develops three basic parts: a nucleus, a coma,
and a tail.
nucleus
The nucleus is the dirty snowball part of the
comet, made of ice and a small amount of
dust and other solids. It ranges from about 1 to
10 miles (1.616 kilometers) across and is at the
Components of a comet. G AL E
center of the comet. The nucleus and the coma make up the comet head of
GRO UP.
the comet. The coma is the blob of gas that roughly encircles the nucleus. It
is the brightest part of the comet. This region is formed as the comet
approaches the Sun and becomes warmer. The coma is made up of water
vapor, carbon dioxide, and other gases that have sublimed from the solid
nucleus. Subliming is when a material goes directly from being a solid to
being a gas without becoming a liquid.
One of the most impressive sights of a comet is its tail, a long extension
from the head that always points away from the Sun. Even though it does not
have much mass, a comets tail can stretch into space several million miles.
Comets often have two tails. One type of tail is a dust tail. This is made
of dust leaving the nucleus. Gas and heat from the Sun push the tail
backward into its long streak. The dust tail is often curved or spread out,
and yellowish in appearance. Another type of tail is an ion tail. An ion tail
forms when the gas particles become ionized or charged by the Sun. The
molecules are pushed away from the nucleus by charged particles streaming
Halleys Comet orbits the Sun
out of the Sun. An ion tail is usually very straight and bluish.
about every 76 years. AP /W ID E
WO RLD PHO TO S
A meteors story As a comet hurls close to the
Sun and its ice melts, pieces of rock sometimes
loosen. These tiny solid remnants traveling through
space are called meteoroids. While the majority of
meteoroids come from comets, some are fragments
of planets or other celestial bodies. They are chunks
of stone, metal, or a combination of the two.
Wherever they originate, all meteoroids are small.
Most range in size from a grain of sand to a pebble.
They are the smallest known particle to orbit the
Sun. They are also fast. Meteoroids are usually
dust tail

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traveling at speeds ranging from 25,000 miles per


hour (40,000 kilometers per hour) to 160,000
miles per hour (256,000 kilometers per hour).

meteor

When a speedy meteoroid tears into Earths


atmosphere, the layer of air encircling our
planet, it produces a streak of light known as a
shooting star, or meteor. The blaze occurs as the
meteors intense speed heats up the air around it
to more than 3,000F (1,650C). This in turn
heats up the meteor and creates a flash of light
visible from the ground below. Some large
meteors can produce a brilliant flash. These
meteors are called fireballs and they can create
an explosion that can be heard up to 30 miles
(48 kilometers) away.
While the intense heat burns up the vast
majority of meteors, a small percentage make it through Earths atmosphere. These are called meteorites. Because of their high speeds, meteorites
can sometimes make huge craters when they hit the ground. A crater is a
circular pit created when a celestial object crashes into a planet or other
orbiting mass.
These craters are found almost everywhere in the solar system and they
pocket the surface of the Moon. Scientists have found about 150 craters on
Earth. One of the largest and best preserved craters on Earth is the
Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona. The Barringer formed about
50,000 years ago. It stretches nearly 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) wide and is
570 feet (174 meters) deep.
The size, speed, and angle of impact of the
meteor all determine whether the crater will be
simple or complex. Simple craters have a
smooth, bowl shape and a raised outer rim.
Complex craters have a central peak, or peaks,
and a relatively shallower depth. These large
craters form this shape when their initial steep
wall collapses downward and inward. The
explosion of the impact causes the fallen crater
floor to rebound. Rock fragments blast outward, creating the central peak or peaks.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

meteoroid
crater
caused by
meteorite

Earth's
atmosphere

The progression of particles that


break away from a comet: They
first become meteoroids, then
meteors, and, finally,
meteorites. G AL E GR OUP .

A fragment of a meteorite
found in 1891 in Arizona, on
display at the Monnig Meteor
Gallery in Fort Worth, Texas.
AP/ WI DE W OR LD

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Comets and Meteors

Showering shooting stars On any clear


night, a person can probably spot some meteors.
Several times every year, though, storms of meteors
will fill the night sky in what is called a meteor
shower.

simple crater

Because of their high rates of


speed, meteorites can sometimes
make huge craters when they
hit the ground. GA LE GRO UP.

complex crater

Meteor showers occur when Earth moves


through a stream of particles produced by comet
leftovers. Since the orbits of comets are known, it
is possible to predict many meteor showers. These
showers can create a brilliant light show as they
enter the atmosphere.

PROJECT 1
Comet Nucleus: Linking a Comets
Composition to its Properties.
Purpose/Hypothesis In this project, you will construct a comet* using

either the same or similar ingredients that make up a real comet. Comets
are composed of bits of dirt or dust, held in place by ice. The ice is a
combination of water and carbon dioxide ice. Comets contain carbonbased or organic molecules and ammonia. Sodium or salt was found to be

A meteor streaks through the sky


over Joshua Tree National Park
in California. Stars moving
through the sky are seen as a
series of short lines across this
30-minute time exposure
frame. AP /WI DE W OR LD

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WORDS TO KNOW
Coma: Glowing cloud of gas surrounding the
nucleus of a comet.

Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that


can be tested by observation and/or experiment.

Comet: An icy body orbiting in the solar system,


which partially vaporizes when it nears the Sun
and develops a diffuse envelope of dust and gas
as well as one or more tails.

Ion tail: One of two types of tails a comet may have,


it is composed mainly of charged particles and it
points away from the Sun.

Comet head: The nucleus and the coma of a


comet.
Comet nucleus: The core or center of a comet.
(Plural: Comet nuclei.)
Comet tail: The most distinctive feature of
comets; comets can display two basic types of
tails: one gaseous and the other largely composed of dust.

Meteor: An object from space that becomes


glowing hot when it passes into Earths
atmosphere; also called shooting star.
Meteor shower: A group of meteors that occurs
when Earths orbit intersects the orbit of a meteor
stream.
Meteorites: A meteor that is large enough to
survive its passage through the atmosphere and
hit the ground.

Control experiment: A setup that is identical to the


experiment, but is not affected by the variable
that acts on the experimental group.

Meteoroid: A piece of debris that is traveling in


space.

Crater: An indentation caused by an object hitting


the surface of a planet or moon.

Oort cloud: Region of space beyond our solar


system that theoretically contains about
one trillion inactive comets.

Dust tail: One of two types of tails a comet may


have, it is composed mainly of dust and it points
away from the Sun.

Sublime: The process of changing a solid into a


vapor without passing through the liquid phase.

Fireball: Meteors that create an intense, bright


light and, sometimes, an explosion.

Variable: Something that can affect the results of an


experiment.

in the comet Hale-Bopp. Trapped gas and an uneven surface are other
features of a comet.
It is these materials in the nucleus that form the brilliant head and tail
when they come close to the Sun. Once you have constructed the comet,
you can then observe its behavior.
*Adapted from Making A Comet in the Classroom by Dennis
Schatz, Pacific Science Center, 1985.
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Level of Difficulty Moderate (because of the

number of trials and careful measurements


needed).

How to Work Safely


Dry ice is carbon dioxide frozen at110F
(79C). If you touch a piece of dry ice too long,
it will freeze your skin and feel like a burn. Wear
gloves when working with dry ice and do not
place dry ice in your mouth. Also be careful
when you pour the ammonia into the spoon to
prevent it from splashing into your eyes.

Step 7: Wearing gloves, pat the


meteor into a snowball shape.
Keep the comet in the plastic
bag when shaping. GA LE
GR OU P.

Approximate Budget $15.


Timetable 45 minutes for initial setup; several

hours observation time.


Materials Needed

2 cups (500 milliliters) of water


2 cups (500 milliliters) of dry ice, broken
into pieces if possible (dry ice is available at ice companies and
some butcher shops)
2 to 3 spoonfuls of dirt (a small dinner spoon is fine; the exact size is not
important)
1 spoonful of ammonia
1 spoonful of organic material (dark or light corn syrup works, or
Worcester sauce works well)
thick gloves
large plastic bowl
2 heavy-duty garbage bags
self-sealing plastic bag
hammer or mallet
mixing spoon
salt
paper towels
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Cut open one garbage bag and use it to


line your mixing bowl.
2. Add the water and dirt in the mixing
bowl. Stir well.
3. Add a dash of ammonia
4. Add a sprinkle of salt and a spoonful of
the organic material. Stir well.
5. Put on gloves and place the dry ice in the
self-sealing plastic bag. Zip the bag closed
and place the bag inside the second
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6.

7.

8.
9.

garbage bag. Pound the dry ice with a


hammer until it is crushed.
Add the dry ice to the ingredients in the
mixing bowl and stir rapidly. Continue
stirring until the mixture is slushy and
almost totally frozen.
Lift the garbage bag with the comet out of
the bowl and shape it like a snowball.
Shape the plastic bag and not the snowball. Wear gloves.
Unwrap the comet and place it on the
bag.
After you have observed the comet for
several hours, break it apart and look at
the inside.

Troubleshooters Guide
Below is a problem that may arise during this
project, a possible cause, and a way to remedy
the problem.
Problem: The comet fell apart during the snowball formation.
Possible cause: You may not have broken up
the dry ice into small enough bits. Try the
experiment again, pounding the dry ice
thoroughly.

Summary of Results Draw a picture of the comet and note how it appears.

Gently blow on the comet and note your observation. After two hours have
passed, note your observations of the comet and compare it to your first
description. What has happened to the carbon molecules in the organic
substance? Write a brief explanation of how this miniature comet relates to
what occurs during a comets orbit.

EXPERIMENT 2
Meteor Impact: How do the characteristics
of a meteorite and its impact affect the shape
of the crater?
Purpose/Hypothesis It was in the early 1900s that scientists first concluded
a meteorite caused the formation of a crater. (Most astronomers before
that time had assumed that craters were formed by volcanoes.) The first
crater that scientists proved had come from a meteorite was the Barringer
Meteor Crater in the Arizona desert. This gigantic depression is nearly
1 mile (1.6 kilometers) wide and 570 feet (174 meters) deep. Since that
time, scientists have studied both the many craters on the Moon and the
ones on Earth to study meteorite impact.
In this experiment you will investigate the factors that affect the
formation of simple meteor craters. You will examine how a meteors size,
angle of impact, and speed of impact affect the crater shape. Speed in this
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What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the shape of the object
the weight of the object
the angle of impact
the speed of the object
the substance the object impacts
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the shape of
the crater. If you change more than one variable
at a time, you will not be able to tell which
variable changed the crater formation.

experiment is determined by the drop height. The


higher the drop height, the faster the simulated
meteor hits the surface.
Before you begin, make an educated guess
about the outcome of this experiment based on
your knowledge of meteors and craters. This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A
hypothesis should explain these things:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
through further investigation. Your experiment
will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is
correct. Here is one possible hypothesis for this
experiment: The faster and heavier the simulated meteor, the deeper and
wider the crater; a meteor coming in at an angle will form an elongated crater.
In this case, the variables you will change, one at a time, are the weight of
the meteor, the speed of the meteor, and the angle of impact. The variable you
will measure is the depth and diameter of the crater.
Conducting a standard experiment will help you isolate each variable
and measure the changes in the dependent variable. Only one variable will
change between the standard experiment and each of your trials. To change
only one variable at a time, it is important to always use a simulated meteor
of standard weight and use a standard drop height. Then you will change
one variable at a time. Your control will be a medium-weight meteor, at a
vertical, 180-degree drop, and a drop height of 39 inches (1 meter).
You will complete three tests in this experiment. You will measure how
the weight of a simulated meteor, the speed of the simulated meteor, and the
angle of impact of the simulated meteor affect the craters physical characteristics. For each variable you will measure the craters depth and diameter.
The diameter is the measurement across a circle. In this case, it is a point on
the peak of the rim to a point on the rim on the opposite side. In actuality
there are many factors affecting a meteors crater.
For increased accuracy, you will conduct three trials of each test, then
average the measurements.

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Level of Difficulty Moderate (because of the


number of trials and careful measurements
needed).
Materials Needed

How to Experiment Safely


There are no safety hazards in this experiment.

shallow rectangle pan or plastic container,


about 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 centimeters)
long and 2 inches (5 centimeters) deep
fine, dry sand (available at hardware stores or greenhouses)
powder of contrasting color to sand, such as cinnamon, cocoa, or
paprika
empty shaker, such as a saltshaker
nine small round objects of similar shape to simulate meteors: three
of the same light weight, three of the same medium weight, and three
of the same heavy weight (marbles, candies, or pebbles work well)
ruler
protractor
string, about 4 feet (30 centimeters)
tape
newspapers (optional)
cardstock, cut into thin strips about 0.125 (1=8) inches
(3 millimeters) wide
Approximate Budget $10.
Timetable 1 hour.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Weigh each of the simulated meteors and note on a chart. Create a


separate chart for mass, speed, and angle of impact. Each chart
should have separate rows for the diameter and depth measurements. Make a note of the standard meteor on the chart.
2. Place newspapers under the pan or conduct the experiment outside to avoid a sandy cleanup.
3. Fill the pan about three-quarters full with sand. Shake until the
sand is level.
4. With the shaker, sprinkle a light layer of the contrasting colored
powder over the sand. This will help you measure the craters
shape.
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Mass

Light

Step 1: Example of the Mass


data chart; one of the three
charts to be created for
Experiment 2. GAL E GR OU P.

Step 6: One at a time, drop the


three lightest-weight simulated
meteors vertically from a height
of 39 inches (1 meter) onto the
surface. GA LE GRO UP.

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average

(weight)

Medium

Heavy

(weight)

(weight)

diameter

Standard

depth

Standard

5. Make sure the sand is level and the outer layer is even before you
continue.
6. To test for the effect of size: One at a time, drop the three lightestweight simulated meteors vertically from a height of 39 inches (1
meter) onto the surface (you may have to stand on a chair). Do not
throw the object. Drop the objects so that the craters are several inches
apart.
7. Measure the diameter of the resulting craters. Average the three
measurements and record on a chart.
8. Measure the depth of the craters by carefully placing one of the
narrow strips of paper at the bottom of the crater and marking on
the paper where the paper meets the rim of the crater. Average the
three measurements and record on chart.
9. Level out the sand and the contrasting-color layer.
10. To test for speed: Increase the drop heights
to 79 inches (2 meters) and drop the three
medium-weight simulated meteors. Again,
drop them so the craters are several inches
apart. Record the results. Level the sand
and contrasting-color layer.
11. Using the same three medium-weight
simulated meteors, decrease the drop
height to 20 inches (0.5 meters). Average
the measurement results and note in a
chart. Level the sand and contrastingcolor layer as before.
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Comets and Meteors

12. To test for angle impact: Tie the piece of


string to the midpoint of the protractor
and tape the protractor to the bottom of
the container. Use the string as a guide for
the angle of impact.
13. Hold the string at a 75-degree angle and
drop the three medium-weight meteors
into the box at that angle, at the height
of 39 inches (1 meter). Measure the diameter and depth of the resulting craters and
record the averages on a chart. Level
again.
14. Drop the three medium-weight meteors
into the box at a 45-degree angle. Record
the results.

Troubleshooters Guide
Below is a problem that may arise during this
experiment, a possible cause, and a way to
remedy the problem.
Problem: The crater depth was too shallow to
measure in some craters.
Possible cause: You may have chosen projectiles that were too light. Set aside the small
and medium projectiles, and select two new
sets that are heavier than whatever was the
heaviest object used before. Repeat the
experiment.

Summary of Results Create a graph illustrating


the data in each chart. Make sure you use different colors or symbols for each of the variables in the chart and label each
chart carefully.
Compare each of the variables to the standard projectile. How did the
weight of the projectile affect the size of the crater? How did the angle of
impact affect crater formation? For years astronomers hypothesized that
objects that landed at an angle would produce an elongated-shape crater.
Through experimentation scientists discovered that projectiles create round
craters, independent of the angle of impact. Do your results match these
findings?
Change the Variables You can vary this experiment several ways:

Try different angles of impact


Alter the shape of the projectiles
Change the surface the projectile impacts
Change the consistency of the surface

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept Meteors and comets are

amazing sights that can provide useful information about the universe. As
both celestial bodies are visible to the naked eye, although comet sightings
are quite rare, it may be possible to gather data on these objects through
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Comets and Meteors

observation. Find an amateur astronomer who has observation equipment, and discuss a possible project with him or her. You may also want
to investigate whether any science centers in your area have meteorite
fragments that you can study.
Check the Further Readings section for predicted comet and meteor
sightings, along with information gathered from previous sightings. Talk
with your science teacher, along with any professional or amateur astronomers, to learn more about comets and meteors. If you do choose to
observe meteors or comets during the daylight, remember to never look
directly at the Sun, as it can damage your eyes.
Steps in the Scientific Method To conduct an original experiment, you

need to plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not
be sure what question you are answering, what you are or should be
measuring, or what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State your hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to your
question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results In any experiment you
conduct, you should look for ways to clearly convey your data. You can
do this by including charts and graphs for the experiments. They should
be clearly labeled and easy to read. You may also want to include photographs and drawings of your experimental setup and results, which will
help others visualize the steps in the experiment. You might decide to
conduct an experiment that lasts several months. In this case, include
pictures or drawings of the results taken at regular intervals.
If you are preparing an exhibit, you may want to display your results,
such as any experimental setup you designed. If you have completed a
nonexperimental project, explain clearly what your research question was
and illustrate your findings.
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Related Projects There are many related projects you can undertake to
learn more about comets and meteors. Meteor showers occur throughout
the year. Gathering data from observing meteors is one possible project.
Because comet sightings are far more rare, you can create a model of an
active comet orbiting the Sun, using household items to represent the
objects in the solar system. Research the spatial relationships of celestial
bodies in the solar system as you work on your project to ensure you have
the model to scale.
You could also investigate if any craters are located in your surrounding
area and, if so, set out on a field trip to examine the formation. If there are no
craters in your area or you cannot visit one, you can use reference materials.
You can compare how the sizes and shapes of craters relate to the meteors
composition. Why would one meteorite form a crater and another simply
land on Earth? You can also conduct a research project to examine the data
and theoretical information that astronomers have learned about the universe from their studies of comets and meteors.

For More Information


The Barringer Meteorite Crater. http://www.barringercrater.com (accessed on
January 17, 2008). Story of the famous crater and the persistent scientist who
proved a crater was caused by a meteorite, not a volcano.
Bonar, Samantha. Comets. New York: Franklin Watts, 1998. The makeup,
orbits, and other information on comets, with illustrations.
Britt, Robert Roy. Meteors and Meteor Showers: The Science. Space.com.
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/meteors ez.html
(accessed on January 18, 2008). Information on meteors and meteor showers,
includes animation and meteor composition.
Freudenrich, Craig C. How Comets Work. How Stuff Works. http://science.
howstuffworks.com/comet3.htm (accessed on January 17, 2008). Clear
explanation of how comets work.
Kronk, Gary W. Comets & Meteor Showers. http://meteorshowersonline.com
(accessed on January 18, 2008). Site on comets and meteors includes clear
explanations and a calendar of times for future sightings.
Orbits. Near Earth Object Program. http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/orbits (accessed on
January 18, 2008). Enter any asteroid or comet and see its orbit.
World Books Young Scientist: Volume 1. Chicago: World Book, Inc., 1995. Well
illustrated reference with basics of space and space study.

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Composting/Landfills

omposting is the process in which organic wastes are broken down


biologically and become dark, fertile soil called humus. An ancient
practice, composting probably began when the original hunter-gatherers
began cultivating food and saw that crops grew better in areas where the soil
contained manure, the waste matter of animals.
Agricultural composting with manure was being used in the Mesopotamia Valley in Asia as early as 13 B . C . E . Not surprisingly, Native American
tribes practiced composting long ago, as did the first colonists who arrived
in North America.
A smelly solution French chemist Jean Baptiste Boussingault
(18021887) made significant contributions to agricultural chemistry by
suggesting that good soil was made by the action of microorganisms,
bacteria, and fungi that break down waste. Working on his farm, he applied
and studied the results of organic methods of farming from 1834 to 1876.
At that time, composting used mostly animal manure or dead fish, as
well as nutrient-rich muck from swampy areas. By the twentieth century,
large animals such as the buffalo, whose droppings fertilized the prairie soil,
were disappearing as were many of the farming communities that contributed barnyard manure to compost piles.
In 1934, Sir Albert Howard, an Englishman, developed the modern
organic concept of farming. Through several years of research in Indore,
India, he formulated the Indore method, a process that used three times
more plant waste than manure in sandwich-like layers of green or wet
material. Howard also pointed out the importance of microorganisms in
the process. In 1942, J.I. Rodale began publishing Organic Farming and
Gardening. Rodale used Howards techniques and experimented with his
own. He is considered the pioneer of organic methods of farming in the
United States.
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Composting/Landfills

Chomping microbes How does composting


work? Let us begin with the basics, the organic
waste. That would be vegetable scraps such as carrot
tops and peelings, plus leaves, paper bags, grass
clippings, tea bags, and coffee grounds. Carbon in
these organic waste materials provides food for the
microorganisms, starting the composting process.
When these microbes chomp away and begin
digesting, the carbon is burned off or oxidized,
causing the composting pile to heat up. The heat
kills any harmful organisms. Macroorganisms
such as earthworms, insects, mites, and grubs
continue the composting process by chewing the
organic matter into smaller pieces. Through digestion and excretion, both types of organisms release
important chemicals into the compost mass, which
then becomes humus, a nutrient-rich soil.

Backyard compost bins are


simple to use. PET ER ARN OL D
I NC.

The transformation is speeded up by a balanced supply of carbon and nitrogen, the oxygen
required by the microorganisms, enough moisture
to allow biological activity, and suitable temperatures. But it is really the diverse microorganisms
that chomp away and activate the process. Without
them, we would be buried in wastes.
In the United States, more garbage is generated than in any other
country in the world. Materials that could be used in composting make
up 2030% of the waste streamthe waste output of any area or facility.
This figure doubles in the autumn when leaves and garden clippings are
added. All this waste winds up in landfills.
Landfills that raised the roof Landfills are huge depressions in the
ground or equally huge mounds above ground where garbage is dumped.
Like compost piles, landfills also have centuries-old beginnings. The
ancient cities of the Middle East were built up over time on mounds
that contained the remains of everyday life. In excavations of the ancient
city of Troy, in what is now Greece, building floors were found to have
layers of animal bones and artifacts that had been alternated with layers of
clay. These layers piled up until it was necessary to raise roofs and rebuild
doorways.

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During the Bronze Age (30001000 B . C . E .),


the city of Troy rose about 4.7 feet (1.4 meters)
each century (100 years) because of these accumulations. Landfilling has also been used to extend
shorelines. In New York City during the eighteenth
century, shorefront roads were extended into the
water by landfill that included broken dishes, old
shoes, and even the rotted hulls of boats.
Sanitary landfills In the 1930s, solid waste
materials covered with soil became known as sanitary landfill. As with composting, a decomposition process takes place in landfills. The process has an aerobic and an
anaerobic phase. Aerobic means requiring oxygen. Anaerobic means functioning without oxygen. In the aerobic phase, biodegradable solid wastes
react with the landfills oxygen to form carbon dioxide and water. The
landfill temperature rises and a weak acid forms within the water, dissolving
some of the minerals. Microorganisms that do not need oxygen break down
wastes into hydrogen, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and inorganic acids during
the anaerobic stage. Gas in the form of carbon monoxide and methane is
produced in the third stage of decomposition.

Macroorganisms, such as
earthworms, chew organic
matter into smaller pieces.
PHO TO R ES EAR CH ER S IN C.

In a landfill, many of the materials, such as plastic, glass, and aluminum cans, containers, and bottles, can take up to forty years or more to
decompose. As a result, these materials are quickly filling the space available
in landfills. That is why recycling is encouraged in most communities. In
recycling, waste materials are used to produce new materials.
Americans dump slightly over half of our
garbage into landfills, according to the U.S.
Energy Information Administration. The remaining garbage is either recycled or burned. Landfills
are not bottomless pits. Thousands of landfills
have become full and closed. For example, one
of the largest landfills in the world was the Fresh
Kills landfill in New York State. Covering 2,200
acres, the Fresh Kills landfill officially closed in
2001. Understanding how composting and landfills work helps everyone become more aware of
what happens to the garbage that is thrown away.
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Dumping garbage in a landfill.


COR BI S.

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Composting/Landfills

WORDS TO KNOW
Aerobic: A process that requires oxygen.
Anaerobic: A process that does not require oxygen.
Biodegradable: Materials that can undergo
decomposition by biological variables.
Biological variables: Living factors such as bacteria,
fungi, and animals that can affect the processes
that occur in nature and in an experiment.

Landfill: A method of disposing of waste materials


by placing them in a depression in the ground or
piling them in a mound. In a sanitary landfill, the
daily deposits of waste materials are covered
with a layer of soil.
Macroorganisms: Visible organisms that aid in
breaking down organic matter.
Manure: The waste matter of animals.

Composting: The process in which organic compounds break down and become dark, fertile soil
called humus.

Microorganisms: Living organisms so small that


they can be seen only with the aid of a
microscope.

Control experiment: A set-up that is identical to the


experiment but is not affected by the variable
that will be changed during the experiment.

Organic: Any material containing carbon atoms.

Decomposition: The breakdown of complex molecules of dead organisms into simple nutrients that
can be reutilized by living organisms.
Environmental variables: Nonliving factors such as
air temperature, water, pollution, and pH that can
affect processes that occur in nature and in an
experiment.
Humus: Fragrant, spongy, nutrient-rich decayed
plant or animal matter.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that
can be tested by observation and/or experiment.

pH scale: Abbreviation for potential hydrogen. The


scale ranges from 0 to 14. Neutral pH is 7, such
as distilled water. Acids have pH values lower
than 7, such as vinegar, which has a pH of 3.3.
Alkalines or bases have pH values higher than 7,
such as baking soda, which has a pH of 8.2.
Recycling: The use of waste materials, also known
as secondary materials or recyclables, to
produce new products.
Variable: Something that can affect the results of
an experiment.
Waste stream: The waste materials generated
by the population of an area, or by a specific
industrial process, and removed for disposal.

EXPERIMENT 1
Living Landfill: What effect do the microorganisms
in soil have on the decomposition process?
Purpose/Hypothesis The purpose of this experiment is to determine what

happens to common household items that are discarded and placed in a


landfill. In nature, physical, chemical, and biological factors act upon our
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waste and work together in the process of decomposition. This experiment will determine what
action organisms in the soil have on garbage.
Before you begin, make an educated guess about
the outcome of this experiment based on your
knowledge of composting and decomposition.
This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and
measurable. It must be something you can test
through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct.
Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: Household garbage covered with soil will
decay faster than garbage not covered with soil.
In this case, the variable you will change is the
presence or absence of soil, and the variable you
will measure is the differences in condition between
the garbage in the two bags after two to three
months. If the garbage in the bag with soil has
decayed more than the garbage in the bag without
soil, you will know your hypothesis is correct.
Level of Difficulty Easy/Moderate, because of

the time involved.


Materials Needed

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the results
of an experiment. This experiment involves both
environmental variables and biological variables.
Here are the main variables in this experiment:
the presence of airneeded for living
things, bacteria, fungi, etc.
the presence and amount of wateralso
needed for living things, bacteria, fungi, etc.
the temperaturewarm temperatures
promote biological decomposition; cold
temperatures (especially freezing
temperatures) can cause physical breakdown when water freezes and expands.
the pHextreme pH levels can stop
biological activity and cause chemical
breakdown. For example, strong acids
and bases are corrosive and can chemically break down debris.
the amount and types of bacteria
presentthese microscopic organisms in
the soil consume organic matter
the amount and types of fungithese
microscopic and macroscopic organisms
also consume organic matter
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the amount of
decomposition of the garbage. If you change
more than one variable, you will not be able to
tell which variable had the most effect on the
decomposition.

two 1-gallon plastic bags with holes.


Each bag should have approximately 20 randomly placed holes.
The holes should be about 0.5 inch (1.25 centimeters) in diameter. A hole puncher or pencil can accomplish this task.
2 twist ties to seal bags
5 pairs of household garbage items (for example, 2 food containers,
2 glass bottles, 2 pieces of leftover food or bones, 2 small sticks or
leaves, and 2 metal cans)
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How to Experiment Safely


Always wear gloves when handling garbage.
Use caution when handling sharp objects, glass,
or metal.

permanent marker
3 to 5 cups of soil
plastic gloves
Approximate Budget $5 for the materials that

cannot be found in your household or at school.


Timetable Three to four months for decomposi-

tion to take place.


Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 4: Completed control and


test bags. GA LE GRO UP.

1. Prepare a sketch and written description of the materials being placed into
each bag.
2. Prepare the control experiment. The
control for this experiment will remove
as many variables as possible from the
test in order to see the results from a
single variable. In one bag place one of
each item and sprinkle a little water
over them. Do not add soil to the control bag. Seal the bag with a twist tie.
3. Prepare the test bag. In the other bag,
place one of each item. Add to the bag 3 to 5 cups of soil to cover
the garbage. Sprinkle the mixture with water and seal the bag with
a twist tie.

Materials needed for


Experiment 1. GAL E GR OU P.

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4. Label each bag (control or test) and


place both of them outside in a shady spot.
5. Open the bags every two to three weeks,
sprinkle more water over the contents,
and reseal the bags.
6. After three months, open the bags and
pour out the contents of each onto separate pieces of newspaper. Remember to
wear gloves. Record what changes have
occurred to each item. Compare the differences in breakdown between the control
and test bags.
Summary of Results When analyzing the contents

Troubleshooters Guide
Because this experiment requires living organisms to act upon waste, it is essential that the
conditions in the landfill be correct. Factors such
as extreme weather conditions or excessive
temperatures could cause undesirable results in
your experiment. If you should have problems,
try the following tips: Always keep soil moist,
not wet. Make sure the soil does not get too hot
or cold. Temperatures between 40F and 100F
(4C and 38C) are ideal. If you use black
garbage bags, keep them out of the sun,
because the dark color absorbs light and can
overheat the soil easily.

of each bag, sketch the objects and write a brief


description of their conditions. Look for any activity of organisms like worms or insects. If anything
is smelly, slimy, or has a black stain due to bacterial action, record it in the
result chart (see sample chart). Note the difference in decay between the
organic waste (food) and the inorganic waste (containers).

Sample landfills results chart


for Experiment 1. G ALE
GR OU P.

Change the Variables You can vary this experi-

ment by changing the variables. For example, you


can place one bag in a chilly basement or the
freezer and the other bag in a warm spot outside
to determine the effect of temperature. You could
also add water to one bag, but not to the other, to
determine the effect of water. To determine the
effect of pH on decomposition, you could add an
acidic material like vinegar to one bag, and add
water to the other bag.

EXPERIMENT 2
Composting: Using organic
material to grow plants
Purpose/Hypothesis This experiment will exam-

ine the principle of composting, the process of


converting complex organic matter into the
basic nutrients needed by living organisms. This
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235

Composting/Landfills

experiment will utilize organic waste (household and yard waste) as


nutrients for plants. It will allow you to investigate which waste products
can be composted and best utilized by plants. Before you begin, make an
educated guess about the outcome of the experiment based on your
knowledge of composting and decomposition. This educated guess, or
prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

Step 2: How to fill pot #1.


GA LE G RO UP.

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible
hypothesis for this experiment: Yard waste will break down faster than
household waste and will provide more nutrients for plants.
In this case, the variable you will change is the type of waste used to
make compost, either yard waste or household waste, and the variable you
will measure is the amount of decomposition of the waste and the growth
of the plants. You expect the yard waste to break down faster and produce
taller plants. As a control experiment, you will grow one plant without
any waste to judge the growth without compost. If the plant with yard
waste compost grows taller than either of the
other two plants, and the yard waste has decomposed more than the household waste, your
hypothesis will be supported.
Level of Difficulty Moderate, because of the time

involved.
Materials Needed

three 2-gallon (7.5-liter) potting containers (terra cotta, ceramic, or plastic) with
one or more holes in the bottom for
drainage
3 pounds (1.3 kilograms) topsoil
3 to 5 pounds (1.3 to 2.3 kilograms) sand
3 to 5 pounds. (1.3 to 2.3 kilograms) organic
waste (use two types: householdtable
scraps, rotten vegetables, coffee grounds,
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Composting/Landfills

etc.and yard wasteleaves, twigs, grass


clippings, weeds, etc.)
3 small identical living plants (annual
flowers or vegetable plants), such as
sunflowers, beans, or tomatoes
3 stakes for markers (Popsicle sticks will
work)
plastic or rubber gloves
Approximate Budget $5 (use topsoil from your

yard if available).
Timetable Two to four months.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Mix the topsoil and sand together to


create the soil base.
2. Prepare the control experiment. Fill pot
#1 with the soil base, leaving 2 inches
(5 centimeters) at the top of the pot.
Place one plant into the soil, covering all
the roots. Water generously.
3. Prepare pot #2. Add to the soil base the
household waste you collected (scraps, rotten
vegetables, etc.). Mix the soil thoroughly.
Place a plant into the soil, covering all the
roots. Water generously.
4. Prepare pot #3. Follow the directions for
pot #2 but substitute the yard waste (grass
clippings, leaves, etc.) instead of household waste.
5. Put markers in the pots identifying them as
control, household, or yard. Place the
pots in a sunny location and monitor the
growth of the plants. If possible, take photographs of them at the beginning of the
experiment. Water the plants when the soil
feels dry. Do not allow them to dry out
completely.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the presence of airneeded for living
things, bacteria, fungi, etc.
the presence and amount of wateralso
needed for living things, bacteria, fungi,
etc.
the temperaturewarm temperatures
promote biological decomposition; cold
temperatures (especially freezing temperatures) can cause physical breakdown
when water freezes and expands.
the pHextreme pH levels can stop
biological activity and cause chemical
breakdown. For example, strong acids
and bases are corrosive and can chemically break down debris.
the amount and types of bacteria
presentthese microscopic organisms in
the soil consume organic matter
the amount and types of fungithese
microscopic and macroscopic organisms
also consume organic matter
the type of plantroots of plants aid in
the physical breakdown of material by
helping to separate materials as the roots
grow through the waste
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the degree of
decomposition and the growth rate of the
plants. If you change more than one variable,
you will not be able to tell which variable had
the most effect on the decomposition and plant
growth.

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Composting/Landfills

How to Experiment Safely

6. Graph the weekly growth of the plants,


recording the plant height, number of
leaves, and root development, if visible.

Wear gloves when handling waste and mixing


soil.

7. After two to four months record the final


heights and differences in the plant growth
between each pot. Empty the pots and
evaluate the amount of composting that
occurred in the soil. Look for recognizable waste materials, record
results.

Summary of Results During the experiment you will be recording the plant
growth in the three pots. Ideally, the pot that is composting fastest will
provide the most nutrients for its plant. It is essential to measure the height
of each plant. You may also want to record which plant flowered first, how
often it bloomed, and whether it produced fruit.
Change the Variables Try varying the experiment by changing the

Step 3: How to fill pot #2. G AL E

variables. You can make two identical pots with the same soil, garbage,
and plants. Give one pot half as much water as the other and compare
the differences in growth. You can also experiment with the pH of
the waste materials. Most leaves are acidic when composted and have a
low pH. Try adding 1 cup (about 0.25 liter) of garden lime (calcium
carbonate) to the soil to neutralize the acidic leaves.

GRO UP.

Modify the Experiment You can simplify this

experiment by focusing only on the soil


composting and controlling which living
organisms are in the soil. Worms break
down organic matter. Before you add the
topsoil into the pots, make sure it contains
worms. If needed, add the worms carefully
and divide them evenly among the three pots.
Worms need moisture, air, food (organic
matter), and warmth (room temperature).
First, note the condition of the waste
matter before you place it in each pot. Add
the topsoil (with worms). After three weeks,
pour out the contents of each pot and measure the decomposition of the waste.
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Composting/Landfills

You can also use worms to make this experiment more challenging. Add two more pots to
the experiment, so that you have five pots in
total. In pots #4 and #5, duplicate the waste
and process as in pots #2 and #3, except with
the addition of worms. Add the same number of
worms to pot #4 and pot #4. Make sure to keep
all the plants moist. After several months, note
the results. After the experiment is complete,
carefully release the worms into a yard or other
safe environment.

Troubleshooters Guide
Because of infinite variables, such as the different kinds of organic waste that you can use in
this experiment, the result can vary greatly. For
instance, if you use oak leaves, which are
resistant to decay and highly acidic, your
experiments results may be different than
expected. If one plant dies, the experiment
should be restarted from the beginning. If you
notice the leaves are being eaten, try to remove
the pests, but first ask for help from an adult.

Design Your Own


Experiment
How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept To create your own

experiment, consider your available resources. Decide what interests you.


You may want to create a compost pile of household waste and create soil
for a herb garden, or find ways to reduce your consumption of nonbiodegradable waste such as plastics. Although the choice is yours, you
need a clear goal that will keep you motivated and interested.

Step 7: Sample plant height


data sheet. GA LE GRO UP.
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239

Composting/Landfills

Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science teacher
or school or community media specialist to start gathering information on
composting questions that interest you.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original experiment, you need to

plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not be sure
what question you are answering, what you are or should be measuring, or
what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved, and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to
your question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results It is important that your

experiments results are saved for other scientists to examine and compare.
You should keep a journal and record notes and measurements in it. Your
experiment can then be utilized by others to answer their questions about
your topic.
Related Projects When thinking about doing a project related to waste

management, you need to limit your focus to one aspect of the field. For
example, if you decide that recycling is your interest, choose what type of
material you wish to work with. Since organic waste is smelly and metal and
glass are dangerous, a good choice may be plastics. You can now begin to
research ideas on how to recycle plastics. Recycling, composting, waste
reduction, incineration, and conservation are all topics that can be explored
and narrowed down to a concept that can lead to an interesting project.

For More Information


Appelhof, Mary. Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up & Maintain a Worm
Composting System. Kalamazoo, MI: Flower Press, 1997.
Franke, Irene, and David Brownstone.The Green Encyclopedia. New York:
Prentice Hall, 1992. Good general reference book on environmental
practices, including composting.
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Composting/Landfills

Leuzzi, Linda. To the Young Environmentalist. Stamford, CT: Franklin Watts,


1997. Interviews with respected environmentalists, including a biologist of a
waste management facility.
Saunders, Tedd. The Bottom Line of Green is Black: Strategies for Creating
Profitable and Environmentally Sound Businesses. New York: Harper and Row,
1992. Profiles of companies, such as Readers Digest, that address landfill
waste in their business practices.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Composting. http://www.epa.gov/
compost/ (accessed on January 17, 2008). Explains basic composting
information, regional programs, and the environmental benefits.

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19

Crystals

rystals affect your life in countless ways, from what you eat to how
your computer works. Any solid matter whose particles are arranged
in a regular and repeated pattern is called a crystal. The type of particle and
its geometric pattern determine the properties of the crystal. Salt, sugar,
and rubies are all crystals, along with many metallic elements, such as iron.
Both natural rock and artificial materials are often crystalline. Our bones
even contain tiny crystals of a mineral called apatite.
All crystals have flat, smooth surfaces, called faces. Some crystals, such
as diamonds, are formed over millions of years, while others, such as
snowflakes, are formed in a matter of hours. Crystals of the same substance
have the same geometric pattern between its particles. This pattern is called
a crystal lattice. In crystals the smallest possible repeating structural unit is
called a unit cell. The unit cell is repeated in exactly the same neat arrangement over and over throughout the entire material.

Symbols and surgery Crystals have been a part of cultures throughout history, from ancient Egyptians to modern days. Topaz, emeralds,
rubies, sapphires, and diamonds are examples of crystals long prized as
gems. Their brilliance, durability, and rarity have caused people to attach
superstitions and symbolism to them. Emeralds were once thought to
blind snakes; amethysts to cure drunkenness; diamonds to make a soldier
undefeatable; and rubies were a symbol of power.
In the 1900s, researchers began to use crystals to improve many areas
of peoples lives, from technology to medicine. The properties of crystals,
such as hardness, conductivity, insulation, and durability, make them
valuable. In modern day crystals are used in electric fuses, control circuits,
industrial tools, and communication equipment. Diamonds are used in
drill bits, surgery scalpels, and saw blades. The television, radio, and camera
all work because of crystals. Some laser beams used in surgery and welding
243

Crystals

are made using crystals. Crystals are also found in


watches, flat panels for computer displays, and
solar-powered calculators.

Molecule
Atoms

Unit Cell

Shapes and structures Crystals are made of


either atoms or molecules. An atom is the smallest
piece of an element that keeps the elements chemical properties. A molecule is composed of two or
more atoms. It is the smallest particle of a substance that still has the properties of that substance.
Inside the core of an atom are positive and negative
charges.

The majority of crystals are made of ions, a


charged atom or molecule. Inside the core of an
atom are both positive and negative electrical
charges. Atoms can either lose or gain negative
charges. The charge of an atom is neutral when it has equal positive and
negative charges. When an atom loses an electron it is called a positive ion
and when it gains a negative charge it is called a negative ion. Most
minerals and rocks are formed from ions.

Group of Unit Cells

Crystal

From an atom to a crystal: The


smallest repeating unit in a
crystal is the unit cell. G AL E
GRO UP.

From televisions to
wristwatches, crystals are a part
of everyday life. C OPY RI GH T
# K ELL Y A . QU IN.

The inner arrangement of the atoms or molecules, the unit cell,


determines the outward shape of the crystal. Because of a crystals geometric nature, many have strange and interesting shapes. There are seven
basic crystal systems, categorized by their geometric shapes.
It is the internal structure of the crystal that determines its properties.
Each atom has specific properties, yet crystals made of the same atoms can
have unique properties. In graphite, the material
in a pencil, carbon atoms are spaced far apart in
layers. The layers are held together by weak bonds
and can shift over one another. This makes graphite one of the softest minerals. On the other hand,
the carbon atoms in diamond are bonded tightly
to one another in closer layers. This makes a
diamond a rigid and hard substance.
How a crystal reacts to electrical forces and
light, its shape, hardness, color, and the rate at
which it conducts heat all depend on a crystals
internal structure. Some crystals will split light,

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for example, causing a double image. Other


crystals will bend a beam of light.
Crystal formation The size and shape of a
crystal depends on how it is formed. Impurities,
temperature, pressure, and the amount of space
will affect what a crystal looks like. In snowflakes,
for example, colder temperatures produce crystal
snowflakes with sharper tips on the sides. Snowflakes that grow under warmer conditions grow
more slowly, resulting in smoother shapes.

Atom

Crystals only grow large and perfect under


specific conditions. Most crystals grow irregularly
and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish their faces. It is rare to find a
flawless crystal, which is why such perfect crystals are worth great amounts of
money. While one crystal is growing it may enclose crystals of other minerals.
These enclosures will appear as a visible mark in the crystal. A crystal pushed
upon by some outside force can develop a twisted or bent shape.

Positive Ion

The majority of crystals are


made of ions, a charged atom or
molecule. GA LE G RO UP.

While natural crystals can often contain flaws, artificial or synthetic


crystals can be made flawless. One reason why crystals are widely used in
industry and technology is that scientists learned how to synthesize artificial
crystals in the laboratory, making them flawless and relatively inexpensive.

cubic

tetragonal

hexagonal

triclinic

monoclinic

orthombic

trigonal

There are seven basic crystal


systems, categorized by their
geometric shapes. G ALE
GR OU P.

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245

Crystals

Crystals start growing by a process called


nucleation. Nucleation can start through the molecules themselves or through the help of solid
matter already present. The nucleation process
begins when the molecules in a solution, the solute
molecules, have an attractive force to one another
that pulls the molecules together. The more solute
molecules in a solution, the greater the chance the
molecules will come into contact with each other
and form bonds.

Though diamonds and graphite


are comprised of carbon atoms,
diamonds are rigid and hard,
while the graphite used in lead
pencils is soft. C OPY RI GH T
# K ELL Y A . QU IN.

When a solution contains as much dissolved


solute molecules as it can hold at that temperature,
it is saturated. The temperature of a solution will affect its saturation. A
solution at higher temperatures will be able to dissolve more molecules than
a solution at lower temperatures. If a solution is saturated at a high temperature and then cooled, it has a concentration above the saturation point.
This solution is called a supersaturated solution. The molecules in a supersaturated solution are so crammed together they readily move together and
can form a crystal.
The more molecules that are joined together, the stronger their
attractive force. They continue to pull other molecules towards them. A
small crystal that provides the attractive force to begin forming larger
crystals is called a seed crystal.

A solution at higher
temperatures can dissolve more
molecules than a solution at
lower temperatures. G AL E
GRO UP.

EXPERIMENT 1
Crystal Structure: Will varying shape crystals form
from varying substances?

room temperature

heated

room temperature

Saturated

Saturated

Supersaturated

solute molecules

246

Purpose/Hypothesis Crystals come in many


shapes and sizes. The substance used to make a
crystal and how this substance bonds together
dictates the crystals unit cell and, thus, its shape.

In this experiment you will compare the


unique crystal formations that grow from four
different substances. The four crystal substances
you will use are alum, Epsom salt, sugar, and salt.
You will create supersaturated solutions out of the
four substances and examine the crystals that form.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Crystals

WORDS TO KNOW
Atom: A unit of matter, the smallest unit of an
element, having all the characteristics of that
element.

Molecule: The smallest particle of a substance that


retains all the properties of the substance and is
composed of one or more atoms.

Control experiment: A setup that is identical to


the experiment, but is not affected by the
variable that acts on the experimental
group.

Nucleation: The process by which crystals start


growing.

Crystal: Naturally occurring solid composed of


atoms or molecules arranged in an orderly
pattern that repeats at regular intervals.
Crystal faces: The flat, smooth surfaces of a
crystal.
Crystal lattice: The regular and repeating pattern
of the atoms in a crystal.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement
that can be tested by observation and/or
experiment.
Ion: An atom or groups of atoms that carry an
electrical chargeeither positive or negative
as a result of losing or gaining one or more
electrons.

Saturated: In referring to solutions, a solution that


contains the maximum amount of solute for a
given amount of solvent at a given temperature.
Seed crystal: Small form of a crystalline structure
that has all the facets of a complete new crystal
contained in it.
Solute molecules: The substance that is dissolved to
make a solution and exists in the least amount in a
solution; for example, sugar in sugar water.
Supersaturated: Solution that is more highly concentrated than is normally possible under given
conditions of temperature and pressure.
Synthetic crystals: Artificial or manmade crystals.
Unit cell: The basic unit of the crystalline structure.
Variable: Something that can affect the results of an
experiment.

To begin this experiment, make an educated guess about the outcome of the experiment based on your knowledge of crystals. This
educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should
explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be
something you can test through further investigation. Your experiment will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

247

Crystals

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the substances that make up the
crystal
the temperature of the beginning
solution
the temperature of the water

is one possible hypothesis for this experiment:


Crystals formed from different substances will
develop unique shapes.
In this experiment the variable you will
change will be the substance that will make up
the crystal, and the variable you will measure
will be the appearance of the crystal.
Level of Difficulty Moderate.
Materials Needed

the environment the crystal is grown in


In other words, the variables in this experiment are everything that might affect the
growth of the crystals. If you change more
than one variable at the same time, you will
not be able to tell which variable had the most
effect on the crystals structure.

alum (small jar, found in the spice section


of the grocery store)
Epsom salt
sugar
salt
water
black saucers (or any color saucers, black
construction paper, and scissors)
hot plate or stove

saucepan
4 stirring spoons
measuring cup
measuring spoons
glass cup or jars
magnifying glass (optional)
masking tape
marking pen

Approximate Budget $5 (most materials are common household items).


Timetable 45 minutes initial time; 30 minutes over the next week.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. If you do not have black saucers, cut the black construction paper
to fit tightly in the bottom of each saucer and place inside.
2. Make a supersaturated solution with the Epsom salt by bringing half a
cup of water to the almost-boiling point, then transferring the hot
water to a glass. Add 5 tablespoons Epsom salt and stir. Keep adding
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Crystals

3.
4.

5.

6.

Epsom salt until no more salt can be absorbed


by the water. You will know this when the salt
How to Experiment Safely
begins to fall to the bottom no matter how
hard you stir.
This experiment requires using very hot water
to make a supersaturated solution. Ask an
Pour the solution into a saucer and label the
adult to help you when using the stove or hot
saucer accordingly on masking tape.
plate. Do not put anything in your mouth,
Repeat this process with each of the other
such as a sugar crystal, before checking with
substances. Make sure to rinse the pot and
an adult.
use a clean spoon. For the alum, begin with
3 tablespoons; for the salt begin with 1
tablespoon, and for the sugar begin with 4
tablespoons. The sugar solution should be thick.
Set the saucers in a quiet place and observe them over the next week
until all the liquid evaporates. When all the liquid is gone you
should see crystals coating the sides and bottoms of the saucers.
Examine the crystals with the magnifying glass.

Summary of Results Draw the results of each of the crystals and write a

written description. Was your hypothesis correct? How does the Epsom
salt differ from the salt? How does the salt differ from the sugar? Compare
the crystal formations with the physical shape of the substance they were
made from. Can you identify to which of the seven basic crystal structures
the four crystals belong?
Change the Variables You can produce a variety of crystal colors and
shapes by altering the substance used to form the crystal. Some substances
you may have to order from a lab supply house or ask your science teacher
where to get them: Potassium ferricyanide (red crystals); borax; copper
acetate monohydrate (blue-green crystals); and calcium copper acetate
hexahydrate (blue crystals). You can also vary
the temperature of the water when making the
saturated solutions and compare crystal growth.
Modify the Experiment You can modify this

experiment to see a crystal form under a


microscope. You will first need to prepare a
supersaturated solution from a crystal, such as
salt. Stir several teaspoons of salt into about a
half a cup of warm water until the crystals no
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Step 5: Set the four bowls aside


in a quiet place until the liquid
evaporates. GA LE G RO UP.

Sa t

Su g a r

A lu m

Ep s o m

249

Crystals

Troubleshooters Guide
Below is a problem that may arise during this
experiment, some possible causes, and some
ways to remedy the problem.
Problem: No crystals grew in one or more of the
solutions.
Possible cause: The solution may not have been
saturated when the water was hot. You may
not have stirred enough to dissolve the solids.
Pour the solution back in the saucepan. Reheat
the solution, adding more of the substance and
stirring well after each addition until you see
bits of the substance fall to the bottom.
Possible cause: The water may not have been
hot enough. It should not be at the boiling
point but it does need to be very hot. Pour the
solution back in the saucepan. Reheat the solution, adding more of the substance and stirring well after each addition until it is saturated.

longer dissolve. Allow the mixture to sit for


several hours.
Place a drop of the solution onto a microscope
slide. Set the slide under a heat lamp or in the hot
sun for a few minutes so that much of the water
quickly evaporates. Now place the slide under the
microscope and focus. Keep observing the crystal
shapes under the microscope. Can you see crystals
growing? Try to observe different types of crystals
and compare the shapes.

EXPERIMENT 2
Cool Crystals: How does the effect
of cooling impact crystal growth?
Purpose/Hypothesis Temperature is one of the

key environmental factors that affect crystal


growth. This experiment examines the outcome
of the same crystal-growing solution cooling at
three different temperatures. You will place one
jar in a cold environment while the crystals grow,
the other jar will cool under room temperature
conditions, and you will enclose the third jar and store it in a warm area so
that it cools the slowest of the three. If the cooling is faster, the particles do
not have time to form a large-scale orderly arrangement and a mass of little
crystals will form instead. The size of each crystal will demonstrate how
temperature impacts the growth of a crystal.
To begin this experiment, make an educated guess about the outcome
of the experiment based on your knowledge of crystals, temperature, and
solutions. This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis
should explain these things:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through further investigation. Your experiment will
prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible
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Crystals

hypothesis for this experiment: The slower a


supersaturated solution cools, the larger the size
of the crystal.
In this experiment the variable you will
change will be the cooling rate of the solution,
and the variable you will measure will be the size
of the crystal. If the solution that cools the quickest forms the largest crystal, you will know the
above hypothesis is incorrect and you will have to
reevaluate your hypothesis.
Having a control or standard crystal will help
you measure the changes in the dependent variable. Only one variable will change between the
control and the experimental crystals, and that is
the size of the crystal. For the standard crystal, you
will soak a seed crystal in plain water, which will
not react with the seed crystal. At the end of the
experiment you will compare the size and shape of
the seed crystal with each of the other crystals.

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the solutions rate of cooling
the crystal-growing substance
the surrounding air temperature
the container the crystals are grown in
the string the crystals are grown on
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the growth of
the crystals. If you change more than one variable, you will not be able to tell which variable
impacted crystal growth.

Level of Difficulty Moderate.


Materials Needed

Epsom salt
dental floss
glass saucepan
hot plate or stove
saucer
measuring cup
measuring spoons
4 small glass jars
small piece of cloth to cover glass container
warm towel
cold-water bath (pan with ice in cold water)
stirring spoon
4 pencils (long enough to lay across the tops of the four small glass
containers)
marking pen
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251

Crystals

Approximate Budget $2 (most materials are


common household items).

How to Experiment Safely


You are using very hot water in this experiment.
Ask an adult to help you when using the stove
or hot plate.

Timetable 20 minutes initial time; 30 minutes

after several days; 20 minutes over the next two


weeks.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. To grow a seed crystal, heat a half a cup of water until it is almost at


the boiling point and carefully pour it into a glass. Add 5 tablespoons
of Epsom salt and stir mixture until all the salt dissolves. Continue
adding Epsom salt, stirring after each addition, until the solution is
completely saturated. You will know you are at the saturation point
when a small amount of Epsom salt sinks to the bottom no matter
how hard you stir.
2. Pour the solution into a saucer and wait at least 24 hours until small
crystals have grown in the saucer. This could take two or three days.
Pour out any remaining liquid and choose the four largest crystals
that are roughly the same size. These are your seed crystals.
3. Cut four pieces of dental floss about 6 inches (10 centimeters) long.
Take each piece and tie one end around a pencil. Cut the piece of
dental floss so the other end hangs slightly above the bottom of each jar.
4. Carefully tie a seed crystal to the loose end of each piece of dental
floss.
5. Heat 2 cups of water in the saucepan until it is almost boiling.
Remove from heat and add 3/4 cup of Epsom salt and stir. Continue

Step 6: Hang a seed crystal in


each solution by laying the
pencil across the jars. GA LE

1
4
2
3

GR OU P.

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to stir while you add as much Epsom salt as


you canuntil no more will dissolve.
When the solution is saturated, set the
saucepan aside to cool for two minutes.
Pour equal amounts of the solution into
three glass jars.
6. In the fourth glass jar pour a roughly equal
amount of plain warm water. Hang a seed
crystal in each solution by laying the pencil
across the jars.
7. Let Jar 1 completely cool and then place it
in a cold-water bath. Leave Jar 2 at room
temperature. Warm a towel in a clothes
dryer, wrap it around Jar 3, and drape the
piece of cloth over the top of the jar before
placing the jar in a warm area, like a
cupboard near the stove. Leave Jar 4 at
room temperature.
8. Every day place fresh ice in the cold-water
bath for Jar 1, and reheat the towel for Jar
3. After about a week, compare the
crystals.

Troubleshooters Guide
Below are some problems that may arise, some
possible causes, and some ways to remedy the
problems.
Problem: No crystals grew in one or more of the
solutions.
Possible cause: The solution may not have been
saturated when the water was hot. You may
not have stirred enough to dissolve the
Epsom salt. Take out the seed crystal and
pour the solution back into the saucepan.
Reheat the solution, adding more of the
Epsom salt and stirring well after each addition until you see bits of the Epsom salt fall to
the bottom.
Possible cause: The water may not have been
hot enough to become completely saturated.
It should not be at the boiling point, but it
does need to be hot. Take out the seed crystal
and pour the solution back into the saucepan.
Reheat the solution, adding more of the
Epsom salt and stirring well after each addition until it is saturated.
Problem: The crystals are cloudy.

Summary of Results Compare the rate of crystal

growth, using the control crystal in Jar 4 as your


standard. Examine if there are small crystals on
the side or the bottom of the jars. Estimate the
size of each crystal on the string compared to the
standard, or control crystal, that was sitting in
the water. Graph your results, using the percentage of growth on the y-axis and the rate of
cooling on the x-axis.

Possible cause: There may be impurities in the


water or the jar. Examine the jar and, if it is
dirty, try the experiment again with a clean jar.
If the glass is clean, try repeating the
experiment using distilled or purified water.

Change the Variables You can change the variables in the experiment

several ways. You can alter the crystal-growing substance and repeat the
experiment. You can also change the temperature of the water to make the
saturated solutions. Does anything happen if the crystals are grown on a
piece of yarn as opposed to dental floss?
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Crystals

Design Your Own


Experiment
How to Select a Topic Relating to this
Concept Crystals have a range of diverse physical

Sugar and salt are examples of


crystals that vary in size and
shape. COP YR IG HT # K ELL Y A.
QU IN.

and mechanical properties that you can explore in


experiments. Explore your surroundings and
make a list of all the materials made of crystals.
An experiment with crystals could include exploring some of the traits crystallographers use to
identify them, such as how a crystal reacts to
light or its hardness.
Check the Further Readings section and talk
with your science teacher or librarian to learn more about crystals. As you
consider possible experiments, make sure to discuss them with your science
teacher or other adult before conducting them.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original experiment, you need to

plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not be sure
what question you are answering, what you are or should be measuring, or
what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State your hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to your
question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results Your data should include
charts and graphs such as the one you did for these experiments. They
should be clearly labeled and easy to read. You may also want to include
photographs and drawings of your experimental setup and results, which
will help others visualize the steps in the experiment.
If you are preparing an exhibit, you may want to display your results,
such as any experimental setup you designed. If you have completed a
nonexperimental project, explain clearly what your research question was
and illustrate your findings.
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Crystals

Related Projects Some experiments with crystals will depend on having


crystals with different properties. You can examine the crystalline structures
of everyday substances around you. Many rocks are crystals. You could
identify the unique properties of crystalline rocks and group them according to their common properties. You could also take on a research project.
You could examine what crystals are used in appliances, electronic devices,
and tools, as well as what properties these crystals supply. Through interviews with professionals or library research, you could examine the work of
cystallographers and determine the instruments and properties they use to
identify crystals.

For More Information


Libbrecht, Kenneth G. SnowCrystals.com. http://www.its.caltech.edu/atomic/
snowcrystals/class/class.htm (accessed February 20, 2008). A guide to the
many different crystal shapes of snowflakes.
Math Forum. http://mathforum.org/alejandre/workshops/chart.html (accessed
February 20, 2008). Descriptions and links to pictures of the basic crystal
systems.
Shedenhelm, W. R., and Joel E. Arem. Discover Rocks & Minerals. Lincolnwood,
IL: Publications International, 1991. Basic facts on rocks and minerals with
plenty of photographs.
Stangl, Jean. Crystal and Crystal Gardens You Can Grow. New York: Franklin
Watts, 1990. Simple explanation of crystals with directions for growing
different crystals.
Symes, R. F., and R. R. Harding. Crystal & Gem. New York: Alfred A. Knopf,
1991. Clear book with loads of illustrations on identifying and using various
types of crystals.

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Density and Buoyancy

A ship floats in water because of


the effects of density and
buoyancy. P HOT O
RE SE AR CHE RS I NC .

hat does it mean when it is said that one type of matter is more dense
than another? What does density tell us about the nature and
behavior of a substance? How does density affect the tendency of an object
to float or sink in a liquid?
The density of matter is determined by the mass of a given volume of
that matter. Any object at a given temperature and pressure will have a
fixed volume, determined by the quantity of space it occupies and
measured in cubic inches (cubic centimeters or milliliters). It also will
have a fixed mass, determined by the quantity of matter contained in the
substance. Mass is measured in pounds (kilograms). Density equals mass
divided by volume.
The mass of different substances can vary greatly. The atoms that
make up lead are tightly packed (at room temperature and pressure) and
possess a large number of subatomic particlesprotons, neutrons, and
electrons. In contrast, the atoms that make up hydrogen gas are very
loosely packed at the same temperature and pressure and possess a very
small number of subatomic particles. More atoms with more subatomic
particles in a given volume means higher density. Fewer atoms with fewer
subatomic particles in a given volume means
lower density.
Imagine a lifesize sculpture of a goldfish
molded in solid clay. Now imagine an identical
statue cast in solid lead. Both sculptures occupy the
same volume, but the lead has a greater mass and is
therefore denser. A third identical sculpture, this
time carved from balsa wood, also occupies the
same volume but contains less mass than either
the clay or the lead. Balsa wood is less dense than
both clay and lead.
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Density is measured on a relative


scale Notice that in comparing the densities of
lead, clay, and balsa wood, we have not used any
units of measurement. We simply stated that balsa
wood is less dense and lead is more dense compared to clay. This is called relative density.
To measure density, scientists often use a
relative scale. Water is assigned a value of 1.0,
and other materials are assigned numerical values
greater or less than 1.0 based on their density
relative to water. For example, lead has a relative
density of 11.3 and balsa wood has a relative
density of 0.2. Relative density compared to
water is also called specific gravity.
Materials placed together in a
container will float or sink
according to their relative
density. PH OT O
RE SEA RC HE RS I NC.

Relative density can be observed The relative density of certain materials is easy to determine by observing the
behavior of the materials when gravity acts upon them in a liquid.
Substances of greater density will sink in liquids of lesser density due to
the greater gravitational pull on the mass they contain. Conversely,
substances of lesser density will rise. Thus, the lead goldfish will sink
through water, while the balsawood goldfish will float. What about the

Three statues of identical


shape and size have different
densities depending on their
mass. GAL E GR OU P.

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clay goldfish? To predict its behavior, we would


need to know its relative density.
When two immiscible liquids, such as oil
and vinegar, are poured into a container, the
less-dense liquid will float on top of the moredense liquid. If a third liquid whose density falls
between the first and second is poured into the
container, it will form a layer between the other
two liquids. A solid dropped into the container
will sink through the liquids of lesser density
than itself, but it will float on the layer of the
liquid whose density is greater than the solids
density.
Look! It floats The relationship between
density and buoyancy was studied in the third
century B . C . E . by Archimedes, a Greek philosopher and inventor. The Archimedes Principle
states that the lifting effect of a liquid on an
object is equal to the weight of the liquid displaced by the object. Thus, if the object contains
less mass than the mass of the displaced liquid,
the object will float.
The Archimedes Principle is what makes steel ships float. If the mass of
the displaced waterthat is, the mass of the volume of water pushed aside
by the hollow hull of the ship below the waterlineis greater than the mass
of the entire ship, then the ship will float, even though steel has a relative
density greater than 1.

Archimedes studied the


relationship between density
and buoyancy. P HOT O
RES EA RC HER S, INC .

The behavior of various materials under the effect of gravity can be


observed and used to estimate their relative densities. In the first experiment, you will use such observations to create a relative density scale of
your own. The experiment should ultimately help you predict the behavior of various materials, like the clay goldfish, according to their assigned
density values.
The second experiment will examine the effect of increased pressure
on a buoyant object containing a gas to see how changing the volume can
change the buoyancy.
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WORDS TO KNOW
Buoyancy: The tendency of a fluid to exert a lifting
force on a body immersed in it.

Relative density: The density of one material


compared to another.

Density: The mass of a substance divided by its


volume.

Specific gravity: The density of a material compared to water.

Hypothesis: An idea phrased in the form of a


statement that can be tested by observation and/
or experiment.

Subatomic: Smaller than an atom. It usually refers


to particles that make up an atom, such as
protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Immiscible: Incapable of being mixed.

Variable: Something that can affect the results of


an experiment.

Mass: Measure of the total amount of matter in an


object. Also, an objects quantity of matter as
shown by its gravitational pull on another object.

Volume: The amount of space occupied by a


three-dimensional object.

Matter: Anything that has mass and takes up


space.

Waterline: The highest point to which water rises


on the hull of a ship. The portion of the hull
below the waterline is under water.

EXPERIMENT 1
Density: Can a scale of relative density predict
whether one material floats on another?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will first create a relative

density scale for eight materials. Then you will use that information to
predict whether one material will float on the other when any two of the
materials are placed together in a container.
To begin the experiment, use what you know about relative density to
make an educated guess about whether one material will float on the other.
This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should
explain these things:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through observation. Your experiment will prove
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or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct.


Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: A relative density scale based on the
behavior of eight materials in one container will
accurately predict that a material with a lower
relative density will float on one with a higher
relative density when the two are placed in
another container.
In this case, the variables you will change are
the two materials, and the variable you will
measure is which material floats on the other. If
the material with the lower relative density floats
on the one with a higher relative density, you will
know your hypothesis is correct.
Level of Difficulty Moderate.
Materials Needed

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that could affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the type and purity of the materials
the method by which the materials are
added to the container
the order in which materials are added to
the container
the temperature at which the materials
are kept
the pressure at which the materials are
kept
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the ability of
one material to float on another. If you change
more than one variable, you will not be able to
tell which variable had the most effect.

3 clear, narrow, glass jars with wide


mouths (such as beakers or pickle jars)
1 probe (a knitting needle or drink stirrer
will do)
9 disposable plastic knives
corn oil
motor oil (10W-30)
maple syrup
water, colored blue with food coloring
lemon juice
one 0.5-inch-diameter (1.2 centimeters) ball of clay
one 0.5-inch-diameter (1.2 centimeters) ball of candle wax
1 small cork

Approximate Budget Less than $10. (Most, if not all, materials may be
found in the average household.)
Timetable To be performed properly, allowing time for materials to settle

and for careful observing and note taking, this experiment should take 45
to 60 minutes.
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Step-by-Step Instructions

How to Experiment Safely

1. Divide your materials into liquids and solids.


Examine the liquids first and try to predict
Before substituting other substances for those
which are the most dense. Pour the five
on the materials list, check with your science
liquids into one container, beginning with
teacher to make sure you are not combining
the one you predict to be the most dense.
chemicals that will create a hazard, such as toxic
Pour each liquid slowly, using a plastic knife
fumes. Some combinations of household substances mix together easily or are the same color
as a guide, as illustrated. Liquids that norand therefore are not useful for this experiment.
mally do not mix may accidentally mix if
Throw away the knives and glass jars after finthey are shaken or stirred. Use a new knife
ishing the experiment because they may be
for each liquid.
contaminated with motor oil.
2. After all the liquids have been added to the
container, wait for one minute to allow them
to settle. Make a note of the order in which
the liquids have settled, but do not assign relative density values yet.
You have not yet added the solid materials, and the behavior of the
solids may surprise you!
3. One by one, gently add the three solids to the container. Allow
more time for them to settle. If a solid becomes coated with a
liquid, its behavior may change temporarily. For example, a solid
Step 1: Pouring liquid using a
may float higher than normal if it is coated with vegetable oil. If
knife as a guide. GA LE G RO UP.
you suspect that a solid is not behaving
normally, gently poke it with the probe.
4. After you are confident that all the materials
have settled to their natural levels, begin
assigning relative density values. Start by
identifying the layer of blue water and label
that 1.0 on your relative density scale (see
illustration). Then identify each material
above and below the water, record it on
your scale, and assign a relative density value
for each. Your numerical values do not need
to be exact as long as their relative values show
which material is denser. For example, you
could assign 0.9 to the material just above the
water and 0.8 to the material just above that.
Likewise you could assign 1.1 to the material
just below the water, and so on.
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5. Select two different materials and carefully


pour or place them in the second glass jar,
using a new plastic knife for each liquid.
(Do not pair a solid with another solid.)
Record the order in which you add each
material. Observe the behavior of the materials in the jar. Did your relative density
scale accurately predict what would happen? If so, your hypothesis has proven correct so far.
6. Determine whether the behavior of the
materials used in the previous step changes
when the order of putting the materials
into the jar is changed. For example, if
you previously added motor oil to a jar
already holding water, now reverse the
order, pouring the oil in first. Use the
third jar and clean knives for this test.
Summary of Results Examine your results and

determine whether your hypothesis is correct. Did


the observed behavior of the eight materials
combined make it possible to create a useful
relative scale? If any of the behaviors disagree
with the scales prediction, try to find a possible

Troubleshooters Guide
Here are some problems that may arise during
the experiment, some possible causes, and
ways to remedy the problems.
Problem: Two liquids appear to mix.
Possible causes:
1. Agitation when pouring the liquid into
the container may cause temporary mixing. Wait for the mixture to settle out.
2. Two of your substances are too similar in
appearance, such as vegetable oil and
motor oil. Replace one substance with
something that is similar but provides
more contrast. For example, you could
use canola oil in place of vegetable oil.
Problem: The behavior of a solid in liquids is
erratic: sometimes it floats, sometimes it sinks.
Possible cause: Surface tension can sometimes
cause an object of greater density to float on
top of a liquid of lesser density. To counteract
this tension, poke the solid with the probe.

Step 4: Sample relative density


scale. G AL E GR OUP .

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What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the rigidity or flexibility of the walls of the
object
the gas present inside the objects
the liquid in which the objects are placed
the pressure applied to the objects
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the buoyancy
of the objects. If you change more than one
variable, you will not be able to tell which variable had the most effect on the buoyancy.

explanation for this difference. Did you misread


the layers in the first step of your experiment? Go
back and double check. Write a summary of your
findings.
Change the Variables You can vary this experi-

ment in several ways. Try different liquids and


solids. Compare the densities of two solids, such
as clay and a piece of pencil eraser. Then create and
test a combination of solids by wrapping the eraser
inside a layer of clay. Be sure to check with your
teacher before trying new materials to make sure
they are safe when mixed!
You can also see if you get the same results
when the liquids in your experiment are chilled.
(Do not heat your materials.) Freeze a liquid
material and see if its relative density is the same
whether in liquid or solid form.

EXPERIMENT 2
Buoyancy: Does water pressure affect buoyancy?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will observe the effect of

increased water pressure on two buoyant objects floating in a closed bottle


of water. The first is a flexible drinking straw filled with air and open at one
end. The second is a flexible drinking straw filled with air and sealed at both
ends. Because the first straw is open at one end, an increase in pressure allows
water to easily force its way into the straw. This decreases the volume of water
the straw displaces and it will eventually sink. Because the second straw is
sealed at both ends, the water cannot force its way inside and must actually
collapse the straw to decrease the displaced volume.
To begin the experiment, use what you know about buoyancy to make
an educated guess about how the straws will behave when the pressure is
increased. This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these things:

264

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
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Density and Buoyancy

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and


measurable. It must be something you can test
How to Experiment Safely
through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct.
Make sure the bottles cap is secured tightly
Here is one possible hypothesis for this experibefore applying pressure.
ment: A flexible drinking straw, filled with air
and sealed at one end, will lose its buoyancy and
sink at a lower pressure than one sealed at both ends.
In this case, the variable you will change is the amount of pressure
applied, and the variable you will measure is whether the straws sink. If the
straw sealed at one end sinks at a lower pressure than the one sealed at both
ends, you will know your hypothesis is correct.
Level of Difficulty Moderate.
Materials Needed

one 1-liter transparent plastic bottle filled with water (the bottle
must have flexible sides and a cap that seals)
2 transparent drinking straws
modeling clay
1 tall drinking glass
water
Approximate Budget Less than $5. (Most, if not all, materials may be found in

the average household.)


Timetable Approximately 10 to 20 minutes.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Cut a 4-inch (10-centimeter) length of


straw and seal one end with a lump of
clay. This will be the top end of the
straw. Attach a ring of clay to the straw
near the open bottom end to serve as
ballast to keep it upright in the water as
illustrated. Fill the drinking glass with
water and test the buoyancy of the first
straw. Add or remove clay from the ballast until the straw floats upright in a
stable manner.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Steps 1 and 2: Set-up of straw 1


and straw 2. GAL E GR OU P.

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Density and Buoyancy

2. Repeat this process with the second straw, but seal this one with clay
at both ends. Check the seals by submerging the top of the straw in
the drinking cup. Look for bubbles coming from the top seal. Then
invert the straw and check the bottom seal.
3. Fill the bottle with water to within 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.0
centimeters) of the neck. Carefully lower the two straws into the
bottle with the bottom end of the straws down. Close the bottle
and make sure it is sealed tightly.
4. Position the bottle on a table or counter so that one person can
squeeze the bottle while another takes measurements with the ruler
of the change in the bottles width where it is squeezed. This
measurement will serve as a rough gauge of the pressure applied to
the water and objects inside the bottle.
5. Measure and record the approximate diameter of the bottle. Gently
squeeze the bottle until its width has decreased by 0.5 inch (1.25
centimeters). Record any change that occurs in the straws (sinking,
taking on water, deforming) in the appropriate column on your data
chart. Repeat this process for each 0.5-inch (1.25-centimeter) change
in the bottles width. As increasing pressure is applied, the straw with
the open end should sink.

Step 5: Sample recording chart.


GAL E GR OU P.

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6. Continue squeezing until the second


straw sinks or until no more pressure
can safely be applied to the bottle.
7. When pressure is released, the straw or
straws should regain their buoyancy and
return to the surface. Repeat the experiment, this time noting any changes you
observe in the two straws as pressure is
applied to the bottle. Watch for water rising
in the unsealed straw. This is similar to a
submarine flooding its ballast tanks to
decrease its buoyancy and dive under
water. Watch for deformation of the second straw, which should flatten as the pressure is increased.
8. Examine your results and determine
whether your hypothesis is true. Repeat
the experiment to double check your
results. Write a summary of your findings.
Summary of Results Record your data on a chart.

This chart should be as clear as possible. It will


contain the information that will show whether
your hypothesis is correct.
Change the Variables You can vary this experi-

ment. Here are some possibilities. Try different


numbers and lengths of straw. Compare the
behavior of short straws and long straws. See if
you get the same results with different liquids. Try
salt water and carbonated water.

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this
Concept Demonstrations of the properties of

density and buoyancy exist in our environment


in numerous forms. Everyday sights such as
helium balloons floating away or a thin slick of
oil on a roadside puddle show the principles we
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

Troubleshooters Guide
Here are some problems that may arise during
the experiment, some possible causes, and
ways to solve the problem.
Problem: Neither straw sinks, even when
maximum pressure is applied.
Possible causes:
1. The bottle may not be properly sealed.
Check the seal. If necessary, place a small
amount of clay on the threads of the
bottle top to help keep a seal.
2. There is too much air in the bottle. Add
water.
Problem: The first straw sinks, but the second
does not.
Possible causes:
1. You are not applying enough pressure.
Try having two people press on the bottle
(carefully!) from either side.
2. The straws are too rigid. Use straws of
less rigid plastic.
3. Your hypothesis is incorrect.
Problem: Once the straw or straws have sunk,
they do not return to the surface when pressure
is released.
Possible cause: The straw or straws are leaking.
Check the clay seals.
Problem: The straw or straws are unstable and
tend to flip over.
Possible cause: The ballast weight is not heavy
enough or is not placed properly. Increase the
weight or move the ballast weight farther down
the straw.

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Density and Buoyancy

have investigated in our experiments. Think of ways to vary the conditions you observe that will answer questions you have about buoyancy.
Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science
teacher or school or community media specialist to start gathering
information on density and buoyancy questions that may interest
you. As you consider possible experiments, be sure to discuss them
with your science teacher or another knowledgeable adult before trying
them. Some materials or procedures might be dangerous.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original experiment, you need to

plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not be sure
which question you are answering, what you are or should be measuring, or
what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved, and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to
your question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results In the experiments

included here and in any experiments you develop, you can look for better
ways to display your data in more accurate and interesting ways. For
example, in the buoyancy experiment, try to find a better way to measure
the pressure inside the bottle. Could a pressure gauge be built into the
bottles cap without altering the results?
Remember that those who view your results may not have seen the
experiment performed, so you must present the information you have
gathered in as clear a way as possible. Including photographs or illustrations
of the steps in the experiment is a good way to show a viewer how you got
from your hypothesis to your conclusion.
Related Projects Although experiments in density and buoyancy can be

challenging and fun, simple demonstrations of the principles involved can


also be highly informative and often can reveal surprising facts. Many aspects
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of density and buoyancy, such as the effect of salinity, could yield interesting
experimental results.

For More Information


Gillett, Kate, ed. The Knowledge Factory. Brookfield, CT: Copper Beech Books,
1996. Provides some fun and enlightening observations on questions
relevant to this topic, along with good ideas for projects and demonstrations.
Ray, C. Claibourne. The New York Times Book of Science Questions and Answers.
New York: Doubleday, 1997. Addresses both everyday observations and
advanced scientific concepts on a wide variety of subjects.
Wolke, Robert L. What Einstein Didnt Know: Scientific Answers to Everyday
Questions. Secaucus, NJ: Birch Lane Press, 1997. Contains a number of
interesting entries on the nature of water.

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Dissolved Oxygen

hat turns a body of water into a dead zone where nothing can live?
One condition that can wipe out most living things in a stream, river,
or lake is a low level of dissolved oxygen. The term dissolved oxygen refers to
molecules of oxygen that have been dissolved in water. Some of these
molecules enter the water from the surrounding air, especially if the water
tumbles over falls and rapids. Other dissolved oxygen in the water is a byproduct of photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, green plants, including
those that live in the water, use the energy in sunlight to combine carbon
dioxide and water to produce carbohydrates and oxygen. The oxygen is
expelled by the plant and enters the water.
The level of dissolved oxygen in water can reach as high as 8 or 9 parts
per million. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
considers water to be healthy if it contains at least 5 parts per million of
dissolved oxygen. When the level falls below 4 parts per million, the water
quality is considered to be poor. At 2 parts per million, fish become stressed
and grow more slowly, and some die.

What affects the level of dissolved oxygen in water? The level of


dissolved oxygen in a body of water can vary from hour to hour. The level
falls as fish remove oxygen molecules from the water with their gills. The
more fish in the water, the more dissolved oxygen they remove. Fish are
cold-blooded, so their body systems work more slowly in cold water and
speed up in warm water. The warmer the water, the more oxygen their body
systems require. Plants in the water, including the tiny floating phytoplankton, also use small amounts of the dissolved oxygen for respiration
(breathing).
Photosynthesis requires sunlight, so plants do not produce oxygen at
night. During these dark hours, plants actually use more oxygen for
respiration than they produce. Thats why the level of dissolved oxygen
in a body of water is lowest just before dawn, just before the Sun rises and
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Dissolved Oxygen

photosynthesis begins again. If you visit a pond


or river at dawn, you might see birds picking fish
out of the water. The fish are easy to catch then
because they are at the surface, gulping for oxygen because the water does not provide enough
for them.
Other factors also influence the level of dissolved oxygen, including the waters temperature,
its salinity (salt level), and its elevation above sea
level. As the water temperature decreases, the
amount of dissolved oxygen increases, because
gases, including oxygen, dissolve more easily in
cooler water. As the level of salinity increases, the
amount of dissolved oxygen decreases. Finally,
bodies of water at higher elevations, such as
mountain lakes, contain less dissolved oxygen
than bodies of water at lower elevations. This
makes sense when you remember that much of
the dissolved oxygen comes from the air. The
amount of oxygen in the air decreases the higher
you climb on a mountain. If the air has less
dissolved oxygen, the water will, too.
As more water surface is
exposed to the air, more oxygen
molecules enter the water.
FI EL DM ARK PUB LI CAT IO NS.

During hot, dry summer months, the water level in streams tends to
be low, and the water often becomes stagnant. The heat and the lack of
movement combine to lower dissolved oxygen levels. On the other hand,
during the early spring, melting snow and cool rain keep the water
temperatures low, increasing the dissolved oxygen levels. The rains lead
to rushing, tumbling streams that gain more oxygen from the atmosphere. The rains also contribute the oxygen they absorbed from the
atmosphere.
Another major effect on the level of dissolved oxygen in a body of water
is the amount of pollutants in the water. Many pollutants, including the
fertilizers that run off farm fields and home lawns, contain nutrients that
help plants grow, including plants in the water. This may seem like a
benefit of pollution. However, after the plants use up the nutrients in the
water, they die and start to decay. The bacteria involved in the decay
process use the dissolved oxygen in the water, reducing the amount of

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oxygen available to the fish. This process is called


eutrophication. As eutrophication continues to
use up the dissolved oxygen, the water can turn
into a dead zone.
Scientists have measured the biochemical oxygen demand, the amount of oxygen required by
bacteria to decay waste material. BOD5 means the
amount of oxygen that microorganisms use to
decay organic matter over a five-day period in
68F (20C) water. The more waste in the
water, the more decay that occurs, and the higher
the BOD5the need for dissolved oxygen. For
example, wastewater that has been treated has a
BOD5 of less than 30 parts per million. However,
waste from a meat packing plant has a BOD5 of
5,000 parts per million. If this meat packing waste
were released into a body of water, the dissolved
oxygen level in that water would drop dramatically
within a few days.
How does a low level of dissolved oxygen
affect the ecosystem in the water? If the level of
dissolved oxygen drops for any length of time,
fish that need large amounts of oxygen, such as
trout and bass, go elsewhere if they can. Carp, catfish, worms, and fly
larvae (the immature, wormlike stage in a flys life cycle) can handle low
oxygen levels, so they thrive. The ecosystem begins to include more
organisms that can live with little or no oxygen. If the level of dissolved
oxygen continues to drop, even the carp and catfish end up gasping for
oxygen. The water is on its way to becoming a dead zone.

At high altitudes, cold


temperatures raise the level of
dissolved oxygen, but the higher
elevation lowers it. The level of
dissolved oxygen in any body of
water is a complex, changing
condition. PHO TO
RES EA RC HER S I NC.

In the following two experiments, you will use a kit to measure the
level of dissolved oxygen in water under several conditions. In one experiment, you will determine how the level changes as the amount of decaying matter in the water changes. In the second experiment, you will
measure how the breathing rate of goldfish changes as the amount of
dissolved oxygen in the water changes. Both experiments will help you
better understand the concept ofand the importance ofdissolved
oxygen.
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A pond overrun with algae is


usually not a healthy place.
PHO TO R ES EAR CH ER S IN C.

EXPERIMENT 1
Decay and Dissolved Oxygen: How does the amount
of decaying matter affect the level of dissolved oxygen
in water?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will allow different amounts

of food to decay in water and measure any changes that occur in the level
of dissolved oxygen.
To begin the experiment, use what you have learned about dissolved
oxygen to make a guess about what will happen when the food starts to
decay in the water. Will the level of dissolved oxygen in the water decrease
or increase? Will the amount of change depend on the amount of decaying food? This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis.
A hypothesis should explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be
something you can test through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible
hypothesis for this experiment: The more decaying matter in the
water, the lower the level of dissolved oxygen.
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WORDS TO KNOW
Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5): The
amount of oxygen microorganisms use over a
five-day period in 68F (20C) water to decay
organic matter.
By-product: A secondary substance produced as
the result of a physical or chemical process, in
addition to the main product.
Control experiment: A set-up that is identical to
the experiment but is not affected by the variable that will be changed during the
experiment.
Dissolved oxygen: Oxygen molecules that have
dissolved in water.

Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement


that can be tested by observation and/or
experiment.
Photosynthesis: Chemical process by which plants
containing chlorophyll use sunlight to manufacture their own food by converting carbon dioxide
and water into carbohydrates, releasing oxygen
as a by-product.
Phytoplankton: Microscopic aquatic plants that live
suspended in the water.
Respiration: The physical process that supplies
oxygen to living cells and the chemical reactions
that take place inside the cells.

Elevation: Height above sea level.


Salinity: The amount of salts dissolved in water.
Eutrophication: Natural process by which a lake or
other body of water becomes enriched in dissolved nutrients, spurring aquatic plant growth.

Variable: Something that can change the results of


an experiment.

In this case, the variable you will change is the presence and amount
of decaying food, and the variable you will measure is the level of
dissolved oxygen. As a control experiment, you will set up one container
of water with no decaying food in it. That way, you can determine
whether the level of dissolved oxygen changes even with no decaying
food in the water. If the level of dissolved oxygen decreases with an
increase in decaying food and does not change in the control container,
your hypothesis is correct.
Level of Difficulty Easy/moderate.
Materials Needed

3 clear 0.5-gallon (1.9-liter) containers


about 3 ounces (85 grams) of rotting fruit, such as brown apple
slices or an overripe banana
scale capable of weighing 2 ounces (57 grams)
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What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the beginning levels of dissolved oxygen
in each container
the amount of decaying food in each
container of water
how much the food is decayed
the temperature of the water in all
containers

dissolved oxygen test kit (kits are available


from biological supply houses; one popular brand is LaMotte; see the Further
Readings section for sources)
5 gallons (5.6 liters) water (try to obtain
water that has not been treated, such as
well, stream, or pond water; many water
treatment plants try to reduce the level of
dissolved oxygen in their water because high
levels speed up corrosion in water pipes)
wax paper
goggles
rubber gloves

the amount of any mixing, pouring, or


splashing of the water in the containers
(which would raise the dissolved oxygen
level)

and $5 for a small food scale; other materials


should be available in the average household.

the length of time the containers are


allowed to sit

Timetable 15 minutes to set up; one week to

In other words, the variables in this experiment


are everything that might affect the level of
dissolved oxygen. If you change more than one
variable at a time, you will not be able to
determine which variable affected the results.

Approximate Budget $15$20 for the test kit

observe.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Label the containers 1 oz., 2 oz., and


Control.
2. Mix your water supply thoroughly; stir
the water vigorously for 5 minutes or

Step 4: Dissolved Oxygen Levels


recording chart. GAL E GR OU P.

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3.
4.

5.
6.

7.
8.

more if you used tap water, which tends


to have a low dissolved oxygen level.
How to Experiment Safely
Nearly fill the three containers with the
water.
Wear goggles and gloves to protect your eyes
and skin while you test the water because you
Follow the directions on the water testing
will be using chemicals that can be dangerous.
kit to measure the beginning level of disYou are strongly urged to have an adult help
solved oxygen in each container. Record
you complete the tests.
the levels in a chart similar to the one
illustrated. (The water in all three containers should have the same dissolved oxygen
level at this point.)
Put wax paper on the scale and measure 1 ounce (28 grams) of
rotting fruit; dump the fruit into the container marked 1 oz.
Measure 2 ounces (57 grams) of the same rotting fruit and dump it
into the container marked 2 oz. Put no fruit in the control
container.
Place all three containers in an area where the air temperature will
remain at 70 to 72F (21 to 22C).
Every day at the same time for the next four days, use the kit to test
the dissolved oxygen level in each container. Record your findings on
your chart. Also note the condition of the water. Are any of the
containers becoming cloudy?

Summary of Results Study the data from your observations and decide

whether your hypothesis was correct. How did the dissolved oxygen levels

Steps 5 and 6: Set-up of control,


1 oz., and 2 oz. containers.
GA LE G RO UP.

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Troubleshooters Guide
Below are some problems that may arise during
this experiment, some possible causes, and
ways to remedy the problems.
Problem: The level of dissolved oxygen was
really low in all three containers in the
beginning.
Possible cause: Your water came from a
source with little dissolved oxygen. Try the
experiment again, but increase the beginning
level of dissolved oxygen by running a tube
from an aquarium pump into the water.
Send bubbles of air through the water for at
least 8 to 12 hours. Treat all the water so the
beginning levels will be identical in all
containers.
Problem: The level of dissolved oxygen
dropped in all containers, including the control.
Possible cause: The water already had some
decaying matter in it, especially if it was pond
water. Focus on the differences in the levels of
dissolved oxygen for all three containers.
Problem: The level of dissolved oxygen rose in
the control container.
Possible cause: The room temperature cooled
enough so that oxygen from the air entered
the water. Make sure the temperature
around all three containers stays at 70 to
72F (21 to 22C).

change in the three containers? Which container


had the highest level at the end of the experiment? The lowest level? Did the level change in
the control container? If so, why do you think
this happened? Write a paragraph summarizing
your findings and explaining whether they support your hypothesis.
Change the Variables You can vary this experi-

ment in several ways. For example, you might try a


different kind of decaying matter, such as another
kind of fruit, raw meat, moldy bread, or rotting
leaves. You could also increase or decrease the air
temperature around all three containers to see how
that affects the rate of decay and the levels of
dissolved oxygen. At the end of the experiment,
use aquarium pumps and tubing to bubble the
same amount of air into all three containers to
try to raise the level of dissolved oxygen. To change
the salinity of the water, you could add different
amounts of salt to two containers instead of decaying food and measure any changes in the levels of
dissolved oxygen.
Modify the Experiment For a moderate to

advanced version of this experiment you could


measure the effect of eutrophication on both
dissolved oxygen level and water life. To avoid
possible harm to fish, you can use aquatic plants,
which you can purchase at an aquarium or grow
from seed. (Elodea and Cabomba are two popular types of aquatic plants because they are easy to
grow and hearty.)

In each of the containers, you will need to first set up the proper
environment for the water plants. Add the same number of plants to each
container and give them several days to adjust to the new environment.
Follow the experiment, adding the decaying foods to the two containers
and stirring the water gently after each addition. Every day at the same
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time for the next several weeks note the level of


dissolved oxygen and the condition of the plants.
Instead of rotting fruit, you could also add a
small amount of fertilizer to each container. In
this case, you can collect or purchase live plankton. Place the same amount of plankton and the
same number of plants. in each of the three
containers. Add different amounts of the fertilizer to container 2 and container 3. Again, measure the level of dissolved oxygen over the next
several weeks and note the condition of the
plants.

EXPERIMENT 2
Goldfish Breath: How does a
decrease in the dissolved oxygen
level affect the breathing rate of
goldfish?

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the health and size of all the goldfish
the temperature and cleanliness of all the
water
the level of dissolved oxygen in the different containers of water
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the breathing
rate of the fish. If you change more than one
variable at a time, you will not be able to
determine which change had more effect on
your results.

Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will observe the breath-

ing rate of goldfish as they swim in water with different levels of


dissolved oxygen. [Note: It is recommended that you perform this
experiment only if you already have access to an aquarium with four
to six goldfish and only with the permission of a responsible adult.
This experiment will not harm the fish as long as you limit the
duration of the experiment and return the fish to the main aquarium
afterwards.]
To begin the experiment, use what you know about dissolved oxygen
and its effect on fish to make an educated guess about how the fishes
breathing rate will change as the level of dissolved oxygen drops. This
educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should
explain these things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be
something you can test through observation. Your experiment will prove or
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disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here


is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: As
How to Experiment Safely
the dissolved oxygen level drops, the breathing
rate of the goldfish will increase.
Treat the goldfish gently; avoid putting them
In this experiment the variable you will
into water that is warmer or cooler than they
are used to. Limit the duration of the test to no
change is the level of dissolved oxygen, and the
more than 8 to 10 hours. Wear goggles and
variable you will measure is the breathing rate of
gloves to protect your eyes and skin while you
the goldfish. As a control experiment, you will
test the water because you will be using
observe the breathing rate of goldfish in an aquarchemicals that can be dangerous. You are
ium that has been set up for some time and in
strongly urged to have an adult help you
which the dissolved oxygen remains relatively
complete the tests.
constant. If the breathing rate of the control goldfish does not change, but the breathing rate of the
other goldfish increases as the dissolved oxygen level drops, your hypothesis
is correct.
Level of Difficulty Easy/moderate.
Materials Needed

one 10-gallon (38-liter) or larger aquarium that has been set up


for a month or longer and uses an air pump to constantly bubble
air through the water (the aquarium may also include live
plants, which add more dissolved oxygen to the water; other
fish living in the aquarium will not affect the experiment, as
long as they have been there for several weeks)
one half-gallon (1.9-liter) container
4 to 6 small goldfish
dissolved oxygen test kit (see the Further Readings section for
sources)
stopwatch
fish net
red and blue colored pencils
goggles
rubber gloves
Approximate Budget $15 to $20 for the test kit. (Ideally, you will be able
to use an aquarium that is already set up at school or at home.)
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Timetable 15 minutes to set up the small con-

tainer; 20 minutes to check the dissolved oxygen levels and breathing rates every two hours
for six hours.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. If you have to purchase additional goldfish to conduct the experiment, place


them in the aquarium and allow 24
hours for them to get used to the
water. During this period, if the aquarium has a heater, turn it off and allow
the water to reach air temperature.
Make sure the air pump continues to
work.
2. Using water from the aquarium, fill the
half-gallon container.
3. Use the kit to test the dissolved oxygen level in the aquarium and in
the half-gallon container. They should be the same at this point. On a
graph similar to that illustrated, record the level from the aquarium in
red and the level from the small container in blue.
4. Use the net to catch half of the goldfish (two or three); put them in
the smaller container.
5. Use the stopwatch to measure how many times each goldfish breathes
in 30 seconds. Each outward push of the gills is one breath. Average
the breathing rates for the goldfish in the aquarium. Use the red

Step 3: Sample graph of


dissolved oxygen levels. GA LE
GRO UP.

Step 4: Put 2 to 3 goldfish into


smaller container. GAL E
GR OU P.

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pencil to record the average on a graph


similar to that illustrated. Then average
the breathing rates for the goldfish in the
small container, and use the blue pencil to
record that average on the graph.
6. Wait two hours and retest the dissolved
oxygen levels in both containers. Then
average the breathing rates of the fish in
each container. Record your findings.
7. Repeat Step 6 after four hours and after 6
hours.
8. At the end of the experiment, gently
put the goldfish from the small container back into the aquarium. If you
disconnected the aquarium heater, plug
it back in.
Step 5: Sample graph of
goldfish breathing rates. G AL E
GRO UP.

Summary of Results Study the dissolved oxygen levels on the first graph.

What do you notice? Did the levels change in the aquarium? Did they
change in the small container? If so, why?
Now compare the breathing rates of the two groups of fish, shown on
the second graph. Notice whether the breathing rates changed as the levels
of dissolved oxygen changed. How did the goldfish respond to any changes
in the levels of dissolved oxygen? Was your hypothesis correct? Write a
paragraph summarizing your findings and explaining whether they support
your hypothesis.
Change the Variables You can vary this experiment in several ways.

Measure and compare any change in the breathing rates of goldfish swimming in water with and without live plants. (Disconnect any air pump so
the plants are the only source of added dissolved oxygen.) Or you can
bubble air through the water in the small container and measure the
breathing rate of the goldfish as the level of dissolved oxygen rises.

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept Measuring the amount of

dissolved oxygen in a body of water is one of the best ways to determine


the health of that water system and the environment around it. Consider
the water sources near your home or school. Which ones might have high
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or low levels of dissolved oxygen? What might


cause the high or low levels? What approaches
might raise a low level? What other factors affect
the health of a water system? (Examples include
the pH level and the levels of ammonia, nitrates,
and nitrites.)
Check the Further Readings section and talk
with your science teacher or school or community
media specialist to gather information on dissolved
oxygen questions that interest you. As you consider
possible experiments, be sure to discuss them with
a knowledgeable adult before trying them. Some of
the materials or procedures may be harmful to
yourself or to the environment.
Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original

experiment, you need to plan carefully and think


things through. Otherwise, you might not be
sure which question you are answering, what
you are or should be measuring, or what your
findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:

Troubleshooters Guide
Below are some problems that may arise during
this experiment, some possible causes, and
ways to remedy the problems.
Problem: The dissolved oxygen level in the
small container remained the same.
Possible cause: The fish were too small to affect
the level during this time period. Try the
experiment again, using bigger or more fish,
putting them in a smaller container of water, or
extending the time period for the testing to
eight or 10 hours.
Problem: The breathing rate of the fish in the
aquarium and the container dropped.
Possible cause: The water temperature might
have fallen enough to slow the body processes
of the goldfish. If possible, move the aquarium
and small container to a warmer spot. Or leave
the aquarium heater plugged in and put a
heater in the small container to keep the water
at the same temperature as the aquariuma
difficult feat to accomplish.

State the purpose ofand the underlying


question behindthe experiment you
propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved, and select
one that will help you answer the question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to
your question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.

Recording Data and Summarizing the Results In your decaying food and

goldfish experiments, your raw data might include charts, graphs, drawings,
and photographs of the changes you observed. If you display your experiment, make clear the question you are trying to answer, the variable you
changed, the variable you measured, the results, and your conclusions.
Explain what materials you used, how long each step took, and other
basic information.
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Related Projects You can undertake a variety of projects related to dissolved


oxygen and water quality in general. For example, if you have access to salt
water from the ocean, you might compare its level of dissolved oxygen with
that of fresh water. Or compare the level at the surface of a pond with the
level at the bottom. Or compare the level of dissolved oxygen in a body of
water during cool weather with the level during a heat wave. Try to
determine the factors that influence these levels and whether the levels
indicate pollution that is potentially harmful to the health of the organisms
living in the water and the people using and drinking it.

For More Information


Carolina Biological Supply Company, 2700 York Road, Burlington, NC
27215, 1 800 334 5551. http://www.carolina.com/.
Fitzgerald, Karen. The Story of Oxygen. Danbury, CT: Franklin Watts, 1996.
Covers the history of oxygen, its chemistry, how it works in our bodies, and
its importance in our lives.
Frey Scientific, 100 Paragon Parkway, Mansfield, OH 44903, 1 800 225 FREY.
http://www.freyscientific.com.
LaMotte water test kits. http://www.lamotte.com/.
Wards Natural Science Establishment, Inc., 5100 West Henrietta Road, PO Box
92912, Rochester, NY 14692, 1 800 962 2660. http://www.wardsci.com/.

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DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid)

our hair color, a leafs shape, a birds wing: These diverse features all
share one key inherited trait known as deoxyribonucleic acid or
DNA. DNA is commonly called the building block of life, for it is the
inherited substance that all characteristics build from. Passed down from
generation to generation, DNA directs how an organism functions,
develops, and appears. Every life form on Earth carries DNA. And unless
you are an identical twin, your DNA is completely unique to you.
The findings of DNA have led to awesome advances in a wide range
of fields, from medicine to crime solving. Researchers have used their
knowledge of DNA to examine inherited diseases, produce medicines,
study the relationships between species, and develop foods with desired
characteristics. As the work to understand DNA continues, researchers
hope that gaining knowledge about the molecule will help improve
peoples lives all over the world.

The transforming factor DNA is a large molecule inside almost


every cell in the body. In humans, DNA is found in the nucleus, the
brain-center of the cell. Much like a cell, a nucleus is held together by a
membrane or nuclear envelope. The DNA molecule coils in the nucleus
so tightly that if all of the DNA in your body were unraveled and laid end
to end, it would stretch from Earth to the Moon about 6,000 times!
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, scientists were working to discover
what substance played a role in heredity. From early experiments and
observations researchers knew parents passed their characteristics onto
their offspring. Then a 1928 experiment showed that there was some
substance that transmitted infectiousness to noninfectious bacteria. This
was called the transforming factor, because it transformed the bacteria.
Scientists narrowed the possibilities of the transforming factor down
to two substances: proteins or DNA. At this time, researchers knew that
an organisms cells contained DNA. DNA is a simple molecule with
285

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid)

relatively few chemical parts to it. They also


knew each cell contained proteins, large molecules made of chemicals called amino acids.
There are twenty amino acids that make up the
hundreds of thousands of proteins in the human
body. Lots of researchers argued that DNA was
too simple a molecule to account for the vast
diversity of lifefrom a weed to a human.

American scientist Oswald


Avery. L IBR AR Y O F
C ONG RE SS.

In 1943, American scientist Oswald Avery


(18771955) and his colleagues conducted a
groundbreaking experiment. First they took
DNA from a disease-causing strain of a bacterium.
Then they placed this DNA into a strain of the
bacterium that did not cause disease, an inactive
bacterium. They found the inactive bacterium
turned into a disease-causing bacterium. Avery
concluded that it was the DNA from the diseasecausing strain that transformed the inactive
form of the bacterium. Many in the scientific
community were skeptical of this conclusion
because they still believed DNA was too simple a
substance. Then in 1952 biologists Alfred Hershey
and Martha Chase conducted an experiment that
conclusively proved DNA was the transforming factor, the molecule responsible for heredity.
Solving the structure The 1950s were a big decade for DNA. While
many researchers were working to prove exactly what DNA did, other
scientists were racing to figure out how DNA was structured. In 1953
molecular biologists James D. Watson (1928) and Francis Crick
(19162004) solved the puzzle of DNAs double-helix molecular structure. Their discovery is recognized as one of the most important scientific
findings of the twentieth century.
Prior to Watson and Cricks discovery, researchers knew that DNA
was made up of units called nucleotides. There are four types of nucleotides found in DNA, differing only in their nitrogen-containing bases:
adenine (A), guanine (G), thymine (T), and cytosine (C). Each nucleotide consists of three components: a sugar deoxyribose, a phosphate
group, and a nitrogen-containing base.

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Watson and Crick used a type of X-ray


image produced by British scientist Rosalind
Franklin (192058) to develop their model of
DNAs structure. They determined that DNA
consists of long chains of repeating nucleotides,
joined together and twisted around each other
into a spiral shape known as a double helix. It has
the appearance of a twisted ladder. The backbone of the ladder is made up of the nucleotides
sugar and phosphate molecules. The rungs of the
two strands are formed by attached bases that are
always complementary, A pairs with T (A-T)
and G pairs C (G-C). These base pairs are held
together with hydrogen bonds.

G
A

Thymine

C
A

T
A

Sugar
Phosphate
Backbone

Adenine

Cytosine

G
A

Base
Pair

Since each nucleotide always pairs with the


A
same complementary nucleotide, this explains
G
how DNA replicates itself. During DNA replication, the DNA helix unzips. The exposed bases match up with complementary bases of nucleotides. The nucleotides bind together to form two
new strands that are identical to the strand that separated.
Sequencing the alphabet Everyone has the same four nucleotides,
but it is the order of the nucleotides, the sequence, that determines
DNAs instructions. Reading the sequence of
the four bases, A, G, C, and T, is similar to
reading the order of letters in words. Different
combinations create different meanings. In some
cases, just one letter out of place in a sequence can
cause a person to have a completely distinct characteristic. In the disease sickle cell anemia, for
example, a single base change from an A to a T
changes the shape and function of red blood cells,
causing blood to clog and anemia (a condition in
which the blood cannot carry enough oxygen to
body tissues).

A
C

Guanine
T
C

Components of a DNA strand.


GA LE G RO UP.

Molecular biologists Francis


Crick and James D. Watson
were the first to map the
structure of DNA.
GAL E GR OU P.

Different species have varying amounts and


sequences of DNA. Humans have about three
billion base pairs in our DNA. Researchers have
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DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid)

WORDS TO KNOW
Amino acids: The building blocks of proteins.
Base: Substance that when dissolved in water is
capable of reacting with an acid to form salts and
release hydrogen ions; has a pH of more than 7.
Base pairs: In DNA, the pairing of two nucleotides
with each other: adenine (A) with thymine (T),
and guanine (G) with cytosine (C).
Control experiment: A setup that is identical to the
experiment, but is not affected by the variable
that acts on the experimental group.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): Large, complex
molecules found in the nuclei of cells that carry
genetic information for an organisms development; double helix. (Pronounced DEE-ox-seerye-bo-noo-klay-ick acid)
DNA replication: The process by which one DNA
strand unwinds and duplicates all its information,
creating two new DNA strands that are identical
to each other and to the original strand.

Double helix: The shape taken by DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecules in a nucleus.
Enzyme: Any of numerous complex proteins produced by living cells that act as catalysts,
speeding up the rate of chemical reactions in
living organisms.
Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement
that can be tested by observation and/or
experiment.
Nucleotide: The basic unit of a nucleic acid. It
consists of a simple sugar, a phosphate group,
and a nitrogen-containing base. (Pronounced
noo-KLEE-uh-tide.)
Protein: A complex chemical compound consisting of many amino acids attached to each other
that are essential to the structure and functioning of all living cells.
Variable: Something that can affect the results of
an experiment.

found no correlation between DNA length and the complexity of an


organism. A species of wheat, for example, has roughly 16 billion base
pairs, the fruit fly has an estimated 180 million,
and a species of corn checks in at only slightly
less than that of humans, at 2.5 billion.

A
G

T
A

A
T

288

Original Strand

C
T

C
G

DNA replication: The DNA


strand unwinds and
complementary nucleotides
bind together. GAL E GR OU P.

As a general rule, the greater the similarity


between DNA sequences, the more similar the
organisms. In the human species, your DNA
sequence is about 99.9% identical to every
other persons. Your DNA sequence is even
more similar to your family members. In 2003,
researchers completed sequencing the entire
human DNA.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid)

PROJECT 1

DNA

The Stuff of Life: Isolating


DNA
Purpose/Hypothesis DNA is present in all life.

In this project, you will extract DNA to see what


this molecule looks like.
DNA is twisted inside the cell nucleus. A
cells nucleus also contains proteins and other
substances. To see the DNA, you will have to
separate out the DNA from all the cells other
molecules. (Refer to illustration.) You will first
liquefy the substance and separate the cells by blending it. Detergent or
soap will break apart the cells outer and inner membrane, in much the
same way that soap loosens dirt and grease. The cells membranes are
made of a fatty substance that contain proteins. Detergent contains a
substance that pulls apart the fats and proteins, freeing the DNA.
The DNA in the nucleus is wound up with proteins. To isolate
the DNA from these proteins, you will use an enzyme, a protein that
quickens a chemical reaction. Meat tenderizer contains enzymes that
cut away the proteins. Adding alcohol will then allow you to see the
DNA. DNA is not soluble in alcohol. DNA precipitates, or separates
out of the solution, in alcohol, moving away
from the watery part of the solution and rising
towards the alcohol. Proteins and other parts
DNA
1
of the cell will remain in the bottom watery
layer.

All living organisms carry DNA;


its unique sequence determines
individual characteristics. G ALE
GRO UP .

Figure A. Process of DNA


isolation: (1) Detergent breaks
up the cells membranes; (2)
enzymes cut away the protein to
(3) isolate the DNA. GA LE
GR OU P.

Level of Difficulty Moderate.


Materials Needed

spinach
knife
salt
coldwater
blender
refrigerator
liquid soap with no conditioner
chopstick or toothpick

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membranes
Proteins

2
DNA
289

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid)

How to Work Safely


Be sure to handle the knife carefully when
cutting. If you get any alcohol on your hands,
wash your hands immediately and make sure to
keep them away from your eyes. Keep the
container of alcohol away from open flames.
Thoroughly wash the cup, jar, strainer, and
chopstick after the experiment. Discard the
mixture after you have studied and documented the results.

strainer or cheesecloth
cup
small glass jar
meat tenderizer
91% isopropyl alcohol (available in drug
stores) or 95% ethyl alcohol (slightly
preferred; available from science supply
companies)

Approximate Budget $10.


Timetable 1 hour.
Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 6: Slowly pour the alcohol


down the side of the glass jar
(jar should be at a slight tilt)
until the jar is almost full.

Alcoh

ol

GA LE GRO UP.

1. Take cup of the spinach and place it in the blender. Add a large
pinch of table salt and about 1=3 cup of cold water. Blend together
for 10 seconds and pour the mixture into the cup.
2. Slowly pour the liquid out of the cup and into the glass jar through
the cheesecloth or strainer. Fill the jar about one-quarter to onehalf full.
3. Add about 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) of
liquid soap to the jar and stir slowly for
five seconds.
4. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
5. Add a pinch of the meat tenderizer and
stir the mixture gently. Do not stir too
hard.
6. Slowly pour the alcohol down the side of
the glass jar (jar should be at a slight tilt)
until the jar is almost full.
7. Place the jar in the refrigerator for five
minutes, then remove and wait another
five minutes. The DNA should have risen
to the top of the glass. Use a chopstick or
toothpick to extract the spinach DNA.
Summary of Results Write down what the DNA

looks like. Your toothpickfull of DNA contains


millions of DNA strands clumped together.
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Since you were not using chemicals to extract a


highly purified DNA, it also contains some proteins and other nucleic acids (ribonucleic acid or
RNA) that were not separated. With the right
equipment and materials in a laboratory, it is
possible to extract pure DNA.

EXPERIMENT 2
Comparing DNA: Does the
DNA from different species
have the same appearance?
Purpose/Hypothesis The DNA molecule produ-

Troubleshooters Guide
Below are some problems that may arise during
this experiment, some possible causes, and
some ways to remedy the problems.
Problem: The DNA is broken into small bits.
(DNA should be a long, white strand.)
Possible cause: You could have stirred too
harshly when you added the enzymes or at
different points throughout the experiment
and broken the DNA strands. Try repeating
the experiment, stirring gently every time.
Problem: You do not see any DNA. (DNA looks

ces the unique characteristics for all life forms.


white and stringy.)
DNA is composed of the same biochemical molPossible cause: The cells may not have broken
ecules in all species: four nucleotides and a sugaropen when they were blended. Try repeating
phosphate backbone. Nucleotide sequences,
the experiment, blending the DNA until is
liquidy.
which account for the distinctive characteristics,
Possible
cause: If the soap had conditioner in it,
cannot be seen by the naked eye.
it
would
not have broken open the fatty DNA
In this experiment you will compare if DNA
cell membranes, and the DNA would not
appears the same in four different species. You
have gotten free. Make sure the soap does
will conduct the same DNA extraction process
not have any conditioner.
on each of the species and then examine its
Possible cause: You may not have allowed
physical characteristics.
enough time for each step. Wait another 45
To extract DNA, you will have to separate
minutes for the DNA to rise into the alcohol
out the DNA from all the cells other molecules.
layer. If you still do not see any DNA, try the
experiment again, increasing the time slightly
You will first liquefy the substance and separate
for each step.
the cells by blending it. Detergent or soap will
Possible cause: You may not have had enough
break apart the cells outer and inner membrane,
DNA from the source. Repeat the experiin much the same way that soap loosens dirt and
ment, cutting the amount of water added to
grease. The cells membranes are made of a fatty
the DNA source in half before placing it in the
substance that contain proteins. Detergent conblender.
tains a substance that pulls apart the fats and
proteins, freeing the DNA.
The DNA in the nucleus is wound up with proteins. To isolate the
DNA from these proteins, you will use an enzyme, a protein that quickens
a chemical reaction. Meat tenderizer contains enzymes that cut away the
proteins. Adding alcohol will then allow you to see the DNA. DNA is not
soluble in alcohol. DNA precipitates or separates out of the solution in
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alcohol, moving away from the watery part of the


solution and rising towards the alcohol. Proteins
What Are the Variables?
and other parts of the cell will remain in the
bottom watery layer.
Variables are anything that might affect the
To begin this experiment, make an educated
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
guess about the outcome of the experiment based
on your knowledge of DNA. This educated guess,
the DNA source
or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis
the type of alcohol
should explain these things:
the type of detergent
the topic of the experiment
the temperature of the water
the variable you will change
In other words, the variables in this experiment
the variable you will measure
are everything that might affect the appearance
what you expect to happen
of the DNA. If you change more than one varA hypothesis should be brief, specific, and
iable at the same time, you will not be able to tell
measurable. It must be something you can test
which variable had the most effect on the DNA.
through further investigation. Your experiment
will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is
correct. Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: DNA will
have the same physical characteristics in all the species, with each species
having a unique quantity of DNA.
Variables are anything you can change in an experiment. In this case,
the variable you will change will be the DNA source. The variable you
will measure will be the DNA itself and the quantity of the DNA.
Level of Difficulty Difficult (this experiment is not technically difficult,

but it requires careful attention to timing and each step).


Materials Needed

four DNA sources: possible sources include banana, wheat germ,


onion, kiwi, grapes, peas
salt
cold water
knife
blender
refrigerator
liquid soap or detergent with no conditioner
4 wooden sticks such as chopsticks or toothpicks
strainer
4 small glass jars
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4 cups
marking pen
masking tape
meat tenderizer
91% isopropyl alcohol (available in drug
stores) or 95% ethyl alcohol (slightly
preferred; available from science supply
companies)
filter paper
gram scale (optional)

How to Experiment Safely


Be sure to handle the knife carefully when
cutting. If you get any alcohol on your hands,
wash your hands immediately and make sure to
keep them away from your eyes. Keep the
container of alcohol away from open flames.
Thoroughly wash the cup, jar, strainer, and
chopstick after the experiment. Discard the
mixtures after you have studied and documented the results.

Approximate Budget $15.


Timetable One-and-a-half hours to start; 15
minutes after a three-day waiting period.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Cut about a cup of one DNA source, such as a banana, and


place it in the blender. Add a large pinch of table salt and about
twice as much cold water as the source. Blend together for about
10 seconds and pour into a cup.
2. Repeat the procedure with the other
DNA sources.
3. Label each glass jar. Pour each mixture
from the cup into its marked glass
through the cheesecloth or strainer.
Make sure to wash the strainer and cup
between pours. Fill the jars about onequarter to one-half full.
4. Add 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) of liquid
soap to each jar and stir slowly for five
seconds.
5. Let the mixtures sit for 10 minutes.
6. Add a pinch of the meat tenderizer to
each glass and stir the mixtures gently.
Do not stir too hard.
7. Pour the alcohol down the sides of the
glass jars until they are almost full.
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Step 9: Gently extract the DNA


from each substance using a
toothpick or chopstick.
GA LE G RO UP.

kiwi

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Troubleshooters Guide
Below are some problems that may arise during
this experiment, some possible causes, and
some ways to remedy the problems.
Problem: The DNA is broken.
Possible cause: You could have stirred too
harshly when you added the enzymes or at
different points throughout the protocol and
broken the DNA strands. Try repeating the
experiment, stirring gently every time.
Problem: There was no DNA.
Possible cause: The cells may not have broken
open when they were blended. Try repeating
the experiment, blending the DNA until is
liquidy.
Possible cause: If the soap had conditioner in it,
it would not have broken open the fatty DNA
cell membranes and the DNA would not have
gotten free. Make sure the soap did not have
any conditioner.
Possible cause: You may not have allowed
enough time for each step. Wait another 45
minutes for the DNA to precipitate into the
alcohol layer. If you still do not see any DNA,
try the experiment again, increasing the time
slightly for each step.
Possible cause: You may not have had enough
DNA from the source; some DNA sources
contain more water than others. Repeat the
experiment, cutting the amount of water
added to the DNA source in half before
placing it in the blender.

8. Place the jars in the refrigerator for about


five minutes and then remove them and
wait another five minutes.
9. Use a chopstick or toothpick to gently
extract the DNA from each substance
and observe its characteristics.
10. Gently place the DNA on filter paper. (If
you have a sensitive scale, weigh the filter
paper.)
11. Place the filter paper aside and leave for
three days or until it is completely dry.
Note how much DNA each substance
contained by comparing them to one
another. On the scale, you can weigh the
filter paper with the DNA. Subtract the
weight of the filter paper from the total.
Note how much the DNA from each
source weighs.
Summary of Results Examine your results and

determine whether your original hypothesis was


correct. Did the DNA react the same way in all
the sources? Did the DNA appear the same from
all the species? Draw, describe, or take pictures of
the DNA, both when it is freshly extracted and
when it is dried. (It may be helpful to view the
extracted DNA under a microscope.) Write a
description of each of the species DNA and
your conclusions.
Change the Variables You can vary this experi-

ment several ways:

You can alter the DNA sources and observe


the DNA from other plant and fruit sources. Whatever you choose, make sure the source is not too watery.
Yeast, strawberries, and peas are three other good sources for this
experiment.
Using one DNA source, such as wheat germ, you can alter the type
of soap or detergent.
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You can also change the amount of the


soap used.
You can change the alcohol. What happens to the DNA if you use a lesser concentration of alcohol, such as 70%
rubbing alcohol?

Design Your Own


Experiment
How to Select a Topic Relating to this
Concept The study of DNA is a relatively new

topic of study for researchers. There are many intriguing questions and
unknowns related to the topic that researchers are beginning to understand. How is the DNA of different species related? What are some ways
that DNA sequences are manipulated, and how can this help treat or cure
human disease?
Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science
teacher or librarian to start gathering information on any questions that
interest you. You could also consider visiting companies in your local area
that conduct DNA research.

Rice, yeast, the pufferfish


(pictured), and the rat are
among the organisms whose
DNA sequences are known.
# S TE PHE N F RI NK O F C OR BI S.

Steps in the Scientific Method To do an original experiment, you need to

plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise, you might not be
sure what question you are answering, what you are or should be measuring, or what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State your hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to your
question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results Your data should include

charts and graphs such as the one you did for these experiments. They
should be clearly labeled and easy to read. As DNA is difficult to visualize,
you may also want to include photographs and drawings of your
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experimental setup and results. This will help others visualize the steps in
the experiment.
If you are preparing an exhibit, you may want to display your results,
such as any experimental setup you designed. If you have completed a
nonexperimental project, explain clearly what your research question was
and illustrate your findings.
Related Projects Because the nucleotides or sequences of DNA are

invisible to the naked eye, the majority of experiments with DNA will
need special laboratory equipment. With the right equipment, you can
compare the bands or fingerprints of DNA from different organisms.
Called DNA fingerprinting, this is one technique that forensic scientists
use to compare a suspects DNA with the DNA found at a crime scene.
Check the Resources section for companies that sell kits on DNA
fingerprinting.
Using a DNA technique that combines bits of DNA from two
different organisms is another possible project. Called DNA Transformation, the technique can transfer a desired trait to another organism. To
perform transformation, you will need a kit, along with special equipment and adult supervision. Transformation kits are sold at many biological supply companies.
The topic of DNA also brings with it many ethical dilemmas. Transformation techniques have allowed researchers to cut-and-paste the DNA
of two different species together. Should a person be forced to store his or
her DNA in a computer databank if it will help solve crimes? If a DNA
sequence predicts that a person may get a certain disease, does that
persons insurance company have the right to know this information?
You might focus on one ethical issue from differing viewpoints.

For More Information


DNA From the Beginning. http://www.dnaftb.org/dnaftb/ (accessed on March 1,
2008). An animated introduction on the basics of DNA, heredity, and
genetics.
Genetics Home Reference. What is DNA? http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/
basics/dna (accessed on March 1, 2008). Illustrated handbook on DNA.
Groleau, Rick. Journey into DNA. Nova Online. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/
nova/genome/dna.html (accessed on March 1, 2008). Interactive site on the
basics of DNA and related issues.
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Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The Genes We Share with Yeast, Flies, Worms,
and Mice. http://www.hhmi.org/genesweshare (accessed on March 1, 2008).
Clear report from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Human Genome Project Information. http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/
Human Genome/education/students.shtml (accessed on March 1, 2008).
Information on the background and implications of sequencing human
DNA.
Ridley, Matt. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. New York:
HarperColllins, 2000. Each chapter looks at one gene on a humans
chromosome.
The Tech Museum of Innovation. Understanding Genetics. http://www.thetech.
org/genetics (accessed on March 1, 2008). Online DNA exhibit includes
images of cells and DNA.

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Dyes

f you ever stained your clothing from a spilled drink, you have seen a dye at
work. A dye is any substance that colors another material. Dyes are in inks,
clothing, and furniture. People use them to produce a wide variety of colors
in a range of materials.

The British chemist William


Henry Perkin is credited with
developing the first dye in the
1850s. GE TTY IM AGE S.

A colorful world of nature In the modern day, most dyes are manufactured (synthesized) by a chemical process. But people have been using
natural dyes for thousands of years. Records show that dyes were used in
ancient China about 2600 B . C . E . There is evidence that ancient Egyptians
used dyes for burial cloth. Dyes were used to add color to fibers, skin
decorations, and writings.
Cultures made dyes from the colors in animals, plants, and minerals. Ancient Romans and
Egyptians made a purple dye from a snail. The
dye was so rare and expensive to make that purple
became a symbol of wealth and royalty.
People made a variety of color dyes from
leaves, berries, stems, and roots. Indigo plants produced a blue, tree bark a brown, and the turmeric
plant a yellow dye. The kermes insect could produce a red dye. Minerals were ground to produce
reds and yellows.
Lucky dye accident The first synthetic dyes
were developed in the 1800s. The person credited with developing the first dye was a British
chemist named William Henry Perkin in the
1850s.
Perkin was just 18 years old when he was
conducting an experiment trying to produce a
drug for malaria, a deadly infectious disease. He
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Dyes

In some remote countries, cloth


is occasionally still dyed by
hand. A P PHO TO /R EBE CC A
BL ACK WE LL.

was using a chemical called aniline. The experiment failed but he had produced a deep color,
which he pulled out the color purple. He found
that it was a deep color that did not fade. Perkins
set up a factory in London and began manufacturing the color, which he named mauve. A few years
later he synthesized a deep red dye.
Holding the dyes How a material dyes
depends upon the composition of both the dye
and the material. There are dyes for food, fabric,
wood, and hair. Leather will accept a dye in a
different way than a swatch (piece) of cotton.
All dyes attach to the material being dyed. Dyes for fiber, for example,
form a strong bond with the fiber. Hair dyes attach to the hair strand.
Synthetic dyes have compounds in them that fix the dye to the fabric.
Natural dyes often need a fixative agent, called a mordant. A mordant reacts
with the dye and fiber to bind the dye to the material. Mordants generally
contain metal, such as iron and aluminum.
There are thousands of unique dye colors manufactured today. Dyes
have become a part of everyday life, from the clothes we wear to the paints

dye

mordant
material
A mordant reacts with the dye
and fiber to bind the dye to the
material. IL LU STR AT IO N BY
TE MA H NEL SO N.

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WORDS TO KNOW
Control experiment: A setup that is identical to the
experiment, but is not affected by the variable
that acts on the experimental group.
Colorfast: The ability of a material to keep its dye
and not fade or change color.

Hypothesis: An idea in the form of a statement that


can be tested by observation and/or experiment.
Mordant: A substance that fixes the dye to the
material.

Dye: A colored substance that is used to give color


to a material.

Synthetic: Something that is made artificially, in a


laboratory or chemical plant, but is generally not
found in nature.

Fixative: A substance that mixes with the dye to


hold it to the material.

Variable: Something that can affect the results of an


experiment.

on the walls. They have also become a part of research and technological
developments. In the medical and biological fields, dyes are used to color
pills and identify tissues or other biological structures.
There are many applications for dyes. In the following two experiment, you will investigate how dyes affect different materials and how a
dye stays in the material.

EXPERIMENT 1
Applying Dyes: How does
the fiber affect the dye
color?
Purpose/Hypothesis In this experiment, you will
observe the role of the material in dyeing. How a
dye colors depends upon the fiber it is coloring.
Using a natural dye, you will experiment with
both natural and synthetic (man-made) fibers.
Natural fibers include cotton, wool, and silk.
Natural fibers include fibers from animals, such
as wool, and fibers from plants, such as cotton.
Synthetic fibers include polyester, nylon and
rayon. By making your own natural dye and
applying it to different fabrics, you will be able
to determine how dyes affect each type of fiber.
Experiment Central, 2nd edition

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the cleanliness of the fabric
the type of fabric
the color of the fabric
the type of dye
the time dyed
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are anything that might affect how the fabric
dyes. If you change more than one variable, you
will not be able to tell which variable had the
most effect on the fabric color.

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Dyes

How to Experiment Safely


Be careful and ask an adult for help when
working with boiling water. This can be a messy
experiment. Make sure an adult knows that the
wooden utensil and other materials you work
could be dyed slightly, and wear appropriate
clothing. Carefully dispose of the dye bath
when you are finished.

To begin the experiment, use what you know


about fibers and dyes to make an educated guess
about how the dyes will affect the different fabrics. This educated guess, or prediction, is your
hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these
things:
the topic of the experiment
the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through observation. Your experiment will prove
or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: Natural fibers, such as cotton and wool, will accept
natural dyes the best.
In this case, the variable you will change is the fabric, and the variable
you will measure is the color.
Level of Difficulty Easy/moderate (due to the time involved).
Materials Needed
Step 1: Use the scissors to cut
each piece in a way that will
help you distinguish it from
other pieces. I LL UST RA TI ON BY
T EM AH NE LS ON.

2 to 3 fresh beets for the dye (other dye sources that work well
include purple cabbage, coffee grounds, and onion skins)
metal pot
colander
scissors
wooden stirring stick that can pick up dye
plastic plate, which will pick up dye
knife
paper towels
container or pot that can get slightly
dyed
4 to 5 different types of white fabric pieces,
about 5 x 5 inches, including cotton, wool,
polyester, linen, and silk

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Approximate Budget Less than $5. (The fabric

can be taken from old clothes or fabric stores


may give samples away.)
Timetable Approximately one hour and 30
minutes to prepare dye, eight hours to three
days total time.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Wash all the fabric pieces by machine or by


hand to make sure they are clean. Use the
scissors to cut each piece in a way that will
help you distinguish it from other pieces. You may want to cut the
corner from the polyester, for example, and make the cotton piece a
triangle. One can have nothing cut. Write down the identification
for each type of fabric.
2. Cut up the beets and place them in the pot. Pour enough water in
the pot to cover all the beets and bring to a simmer. Allow the beets
to simmer for about an hour. Use the wooden spoon to stir
occasionally.
3. Set the container under the colander in a sink or outside, and
carefully empty the hot beet-water into the colander. The container holds your dye.
4. Place the fabric swatches into the container. Use the wooden
stirrer to move the pieces around. Set aside overnight.
5. Use the wooden utensil to look at the
fabric. You may want to leave the fabric
in for several more hours or days to absorb
more of the dye. When you are ready to
take the fabric out of the dye, take the
pieces out in a sink or outside. Hold each
piece out under clear water and roll it in
paper towels. Set the material pieces on
the plate and allow to dry.

Step 3: Empty the hot beetwater into the colander.


ILL US TRA TI ON B Y TE MA H
NEL SO N.

Step 5: Use the wooden utensil


to look at the fabric.
ILL US TRA TI ON B Y TE MA H
NEL SO N.

Summary of Results Match the identification


with the type of fabric. How did each fabric dye
compared to one another? Was there one type of
material that dyed the brightest? Write up a
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paragraph of your results; you may want to take


pictures.

Troubleshooters Guide
There should not be any significant problems
with this experiment. If one of the types of
material is clean and does not accept the dye,
that may be the material. You could leave all the
fabrics in the dye for a longer amount of time to
make sure.

Change the Variables You can vary this experi-

ment. Here are some possibilities. Try different


dye sources, such as flowers, onion skins, or bark.
You could use a synthetic, store-bought dye and
compare the color to the natural dye. Try blends
of two types of fiber while also dyeing 100% pieces
of each blend, to determine which of the types of
fibers accepts dye more than the other.

EXPERIMENT 2
Holding the Dye: How do dye fixatives affect
the colorfastness of the dye?
Purpose/Hypothesis Adding a fixative to the dyeing process helps ensure

that the dye color will stay attached to the material. Dyes can fade over time
from washing. Exposure to sunlight and air can also cause a color to fade.
Mordants are used to help fix natural dyes. The mordant, a metal-based
substance, attaches to the fiber and the dye binds to the mordant. Synthetic
dyes can bond directly to the fiber.
In this experiment, you can test the colorfastness of a synthetic dye, a
natural dye without a mordant, and a natural dye with a mordant. The
mordant you will use is alum (aluminum sulfate). After dying the same type
of material in each of the three dye baths, you can test for colorfastness by
repeatedly washing the materials with soap. By comparing each of the
materials against an unwashed piece you can judge how the material held
onto the dye relative to the other washed materials.
To begin the experiment, use what you know about dyes and colorfastness to make an educated guess about how each material will fix the
dye. This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis
should explain these things:

the topic of the experiment


the variable you will change
the variable you will measure
what you expect to happen

A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be


something you can test through observation. Your experiment will prove
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or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct.


Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: The natural dye with the mordant will
retain the dye color more than the synthetic or
natural dye alone.
In this case, the variable you will change will
be the dye fixative. The variable you will measure
will be how much each material retains its color
relative to one another. If the material with the
natural dye and mordant retains its color the
best, you will know your hypothesis is correct.
Setting up a control will help you isolate one
variable. For the control, you will only dye the
material. For the experiment, you will compare
the experimental material against the control to
judge the colorfastness.
Level of Difficulty Moderate, because of the time

What Are the Variables?


Variables are anything that might affect the
results of an experiment. Here are the main
variables in this experiment:
the type of material
the color of the material
the amount of soap
the type of pan used
the amount of times the material is
washed
In other words, the variables in this experiment
are everything that might affect the amount of
dye color the material retains. If you change
more than one variable, you will not be able to
tell which variable had the most effect on the
colorfastness.

and care involved.


Materials Needed

purple cabbage or 3 to 4 fresh red beets


synthetic fabric dye, red dye if you are using beets and purple if
you are using cabbage (available at drug or fabric stores)
stainless steel pot
3 plastic container (which may get dyed)
scissors
6 squares of white wool, about 5 to 6 inches (1315 cm) square
stove
alum (available in grocery stores)
measuring spoons and cup
liquid soap
strainer
plastic plates
2 to 3 wooden sticks or spoons
paper towels
glass jar with cover (a mayonnaise jar works well)
Approximate Budget $8.
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How to Experiment Safely


Be careful and ask an adult for help when
working with boiling water. This can be a messy
experiment. You may want to work outside
whenever possible. Make sure an adult knows
that the wooden utensil and other materials you
work may get dyed, and wear appropriate
clothing. Carefully dispose of the dye bath
when you are finished.

3.

4.
5.
6.
Step 2: Use scissors to cut the pieces
in three ways to help you identify
each pair. I LL UST RA TI ON BY
T EM AH NE LS ON.

306

Timetable Approximately two hours to prepare


dye and carry out experiment, three to four days
total time, depending upon how long the material takes to dry.
Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Wash the pieces of wool by machine or by


hand to make sure they are clean.
2. Use the scissors to cut the pieces in three
ways to help you identify which pair will
be in each dye bath. You can cut a diagonal off the corner off two pieces; cut a
square in the corner of two more pieces, and cut a small triangle in
the middle of one side of two more pieces. It does not matter what
you cut, as long as there are three sets of two pieces that are
identifiable. Assign each identification marking to one of the dye
baths and write it down.
Bring three cups of water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add
about a quarter teaspoon alum and stir. Wet the two pieces assigned
to the mordant/natural dye bath and place in the hot water.
Simmer for about an hour and turn off the stove. Allow the material
to sit overnight in the alum water.
Before you are about to die, remove the two pieces from the alum
water and place on a plate. Wet the remaining four pieces of wool.
For the natural dye: Cut up the beets or cabbage and place them in
the pot. Pour enough water in the pot to cover the food and simmer
for about 30 minutes or until the water is a color you like. Use the
wooden spoon to stir occasionally.
7. While the natural dye is simmering, follow the directions on the package. Make
sure you use a container that does not
matter if it gets dyed.
8. When the cabbage or beets has finished
simmering, place a plastic container
under the strainer in a sink or outside,
and carefully empty the hot beet-water
into the colander. The container holds
your dye.
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Dyes

9. Place the four wet fabric swatches


assigned to the natural dye bath into the
container. Use the wooden stirrer to
move the pieces around. Set aside
overnight.
10. Place the two wet fabric swatches
assigned to the synthetic dye into the
synthetic dye bath. Use a wooden stirrer
to move the pieces around. Set aside as
directed or until you like the color.
11. When all the squares are dyed, set them on
a paper towel and roll the paper towel until the material is damp.
Hang them over a plate in the sink or outside and allow to dry. Set
one of each pair aside.
12. Fill the glass jar with warm water and add a few drops of soap.
Place one of each pair of the dyed wool pieces into the jar. Cover
and shake for at least ten seconds.
13. Rinse the wool squares under running water and allow to dry.
14. Repeat the washing and drying process
two more times.

Step 3: Wet the two pieces


assigned to the mordant/
natural dye bath and place in
the hot water. I LLU ST RAT IO N
BY T EMA H NE LS ON.

Step 12: Cover and shake with


the dyed wool for at least ten
seconds. I LL US TRA TI ON BY
TEM AH N EL SON .

Summary of Results Compare the control wool

pieces to the washed wool. How does each compare


to its non-washed partner? Is there one dye that
washed out completely? Did the mordant help fix
the dye? Match the identification with the assigned
dye bath. Was your hypothesis correct? Write up a
paragraph of your results; you may want to take
pictures or attach swatches.
Change the Variables One variable you can

change to further explore colorfastness is pH.


The pH is a measure of how acidic a solution
is. Depending upon the material, a low or high
pH can affect how the dye bonds and fixes to the
material. You can also change the material or
type of dye. You can compare different brands of
purchased dyes or different types of natural dyes.
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Dyes

Design Your Own Experiment


How to Select a Topic Relating to this Concept Are you interested in

experimenting with how to make dye, change dye colors, or remove dyes?
Perhaps you would like to learn more about the chemistry behind how a
dye attaches to a fabric. Have you ever wondered why some dyes dissolve
in water and others only dissolve in oil?
Check the Further Readings section and talk with your science teacher to
gather information about dye questions that interest you. You may also want
to explore the museums in your area for special exhibits on color or dyes.
Steps in the Scientific Method To conduct an original experiment, you

need to plan carefully and think things through. Otherwise you may not
be sure what question you are answering, what you are or should be
measuring, or what your findings prove or disprove.
Here are the steps in designing an experiment:
State the purpose ofand the underlying question behindthe
experiment you propose to do.
Recognize the variables involved, and select one that will help you
answer the question at hand.
State a testable hypothesis, an educated guess about the answer to
your question.
Decide how to change the variable you selected.
Decide how to measure your results.
Recording Data and Summarizing the Results Your data should include
charts, graphs or some type of visual representation. They should be clearly
labeled and easy to read. You may also want to include samples, photos, or
colored drawings of your experimental set-up and results.
If you are preparing an exhibit, display the materials you dyed or dyes
themselves to help explain what you did and what you discovered. Observers could even test them out the dyes for themselves. If you have completed
a nonexperimental project, you will want to explain clearly what your
research question was and illustrate your findings.
Related Projects There are many possible experiments relating to dyes.

You could investigate how dyes are removed or the chemistry behind dye
removal. You could further investigate why some clothes retain their
dye and others lose their color in the wash. There are many different
types of dyes developed for different materials. You could explore how a
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Dyes

wood dye is different from a fabric dye or hair dye. Why does bleach
remove some dyes? Look around you for objects or materials that are dyed
and consider what questions you can investigate.

For More Information


Dyeing to Find Out: Extracting Natures Colors. Kids Gardening. http://www.
kidsgardening.com/growingideas/projects/may03/pg1.html (accessed on
April 24, 2008). Information and how techniques how to use plant materials
to dye.
Gardner, Robert. Science Projects about Chemistry. Hillside, NJ: Enslow
Publishers, 1994. Focuses on experiments in causing and analyzing chemical
reactions.
Van Cleave, Janice. A+ Projects in Chemistry. New York: Wiley, 1993. Outlines
many experiments and includes information about the scientific method.

Experiment Central, 2nd edition

309

Earthquakes

ccording to the ancient Greeks, earthquakes occurred when t