On the 8th of August, Alena, Riya, Rishab and I once again attended the ‘Little Scientist’ program at John Monash Science School (JMSS). It was yet again another extremely enjoyable session, and we all wished it went on for a little bit longer. The session was based on chemistry, and there were four experiments.
Before we started the experiments the John Monash Students (year 10 - 11's) went through a brief explanation of nanotechnology/nanoscience and the nanoscale, which is related to chemistry. Nanotechnology (or nanoscience) is the study of extremely small things like molecules and atoms (anything so small that the naked eye cannot see it). The nanoscale is a scale that measures extremely small things; in fact, one nanometer is equal to one billionth of an actual meter! After the explanation, we started the experiments.
The first experiment was called ‘exploring thin films’. Have you ever seen the rainbow colours in water because of a little bit of oil floating in the water? This experiment was based on that. The John Monash students required us to put centimeter marks on a piece of black paper, and then we put that paper into a tub of water. We then put a drop of clear nail polish onto the water, and it floated on the top of the water, due to it being less dense than water, therefore lighter and staying there. After about 5 minutes, we picked up the paper from the bottom of the water, and the nail polish stuck to the paper, and made a stunning rainbow effect on the paper; just like the ones you see when oil is dropped on water, but this one was permanent.
To the second experiment; the one all of us, Alena, Riya, Rishab and I, enjoyed the most, called ‘Magic Sand’. Here we observed two different types of sand, normal sand and magic sand. We had a beaker of water and we had to put three different types of things in it, oil, normal sand and magic sand, and we had to find out if they were hydrophilic or hydrophobic. The word hydrophilic means that something can get mixed, dissolved or get wet by water. Hydrophobic is the word used for something that can’t mix in with water. In the end, we found out that normal sand was hydrophilic and the oil and magic sand was hydrophobic, as oil floated to the top, and magic sand clumped together and sunk to the bottom; sort of like a stone. After that, we looked at the magic sand and normal sand in powerful microscopes. Normal sand had microscopic stones in it, and magic sand had stones that were sharp and crystal like.
Finally, we went over to our last experiment called beetroot blocks. The aim of this activity was to find out the effect of size and surface area on reactions (to see how fast or slow coloured dye from beetroot cells can transfer to water). For this experiment we were given beakers filled with water and beetroot pieces, all of them with the same volume of beetroot in them cut into different pieces, with one beaker having 2 pieces, the other having 4 and the last one having 8. We saw that the water that became the most red was the one with 8 blocks in it, because as it was cut up more, the cells were more exposed and could make it more red.
Overall it was another marvellous experience and we all intently enjoyed it. We would like to say thank you to Mrs Stonehouse-Melke for accompanying us and the JMSS students for organising the experiments for all of us.
Farah Hassan, 5/6F