Satellites in Space – Designing Spacecraft

The Grade 9s were treated to a special visit from NASA (Wallops Visitor Center – big thank-you!). The students participated in the program MISSION EXPLORERS: DESIGN A SPACECRAFT.

Together the Grade 9s mission was to design spacecraft that would study the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere of earth. NASA guided the students step-by-step on how to design a spacecraft beginning with a review of the different types of space technology such as rovers, scientific balloons, and satellites. The students then decided the power source for the spacecraft and the scientific instrument such as a camera or magnetometer. The students also incorporated a communication device to send signals to earth! The students chose between an antenna and an orbiter relay system. The students were ready to sketch their own spacecraft design!

After our visit, the students transformed their designs into 3-D models! During cross-curricular, the students are learning about climate change from space. The satellites in space collect important information about the planet we live on together including how our environment is experiencing pattern shifts. The students carefully thought about how to build their satellites, questioning how to attach antenna and robotic arms that can collect samples. The students experimented with a variety of materials from cardboard to clay to sponges to popsicle sticks imagining what they could be! The spacecraft reflect a diversity of applied design ideas! Next stop, SPACE!

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Pepto Bismol Lab

The students actively extracted bismuth metal from pepto bismol tablets. A soft metal that has similar properties to lead, pepto bismol is widely used in medicine and cosmetics though does not have a specific medical purpose! Bismuth actually helps with the absorption of fluid across the intestinal wall!

To isolate the Bismuth metal, the students combined Pepto Bismol and HCl (hydrochloric acid). Students then filtered the solution. Student then pondered: “Hmmm… we have bismuth chloride…” We put aluminum in the solution to form Aluminum chloride allowing the Bismuth to precipitate out of solution. The students watched in incredible amazement as the Bismuth formed immediately as these little black dots in solution! We filtered and fired the bismuth sample. The students extracted 3.2g of bismuth from 96 Pepto Bismol tablets.

WoW! One student shared that this was a great experiment!

The students asked careful questions throughout as they extracted a solid from a solution. Incredible!

We got to extract an element!
We experimented with stomach medication
We turned a medication into an element!
We did science!

Extracting and isolating DNA from strawberry cells


What is DNA? DNA is a molecule that contains the genetic code for our proteins. The students in the Grade 11 Biology class were actively lysing strawberry cells to extract and isolate DNA from the nuclei of strawberry cells. The scientists in training first used detergent to break into the cell membrane then lastly used ethanol alcohol to precipitate the DNA from solution. A sample of DNA was collected and observed under the microscope. The students recorded many observations while asking several inquiry questions throughout the DNA investigation. Everyone has been investigating the genetic code and the experiment was a great opportunity to observe DNA in living cells.