Biochemical Compounds in Food Samples

There are four broad classes of macromolecules that can be found in living systems. Each type of macromolecule has a characteristic structure and function in living organisms. You can use your knowledge of the basic structure of each macromolecule to perform tests in the lab that detect the presence or absence of key functional groups or overall characteristics in various substances through the use of indicators.

Students were given a scenario in which they had to play the role of scientists at a Canadian Food and Drug Administration Center for Nutrient Analysis where they test various food items for protein, lipid and carbohydrate content. In the face of an impending zombie epidemic, they must use their knowledge and understanding of biochemical compounds to determine which food substances could be used to quell the zombie epidemic. To do this they must analyse a variety of foods to determine which has the highest levels of complex carbohydrates and proteins which have been found to kill the zombie’s brain cells.

Skating Trip at Nathan Phillips Square

On Friday February the 10th the YMCA Academy embarked on its yearly walk to Nathan Phillips Square in order to partake in our annual skating trip. With skates and helmets secure, the students hit the ice. Skaters of all experience levels enjoyed gliding on the ice. This year’s major difference from years past was the amount of snow that fell throughout the entire event.

As always, after a fair amount of skating was done both staff and students enjoyed their traditional consumption hot chocolate and Timbits from Tim Hortons. This yearly experience, now in its sixth year, affords staff and students to enjoy an afternoon of fun for both skaters and non skaters. We can’t wait to see what next year’s trip will be like.

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Annual Cedar Glen Trip

October is that time of year where the leaves turn red, orange, and yellow, presenting us with a breathtaking display of the best of nature. It is also the time of year where Academy staff and students gear up for one of the year’s most anticipated and loved events, our annual trip to Cedar Glen. Whereas most years our pilgrimage to Cedar Glen is around the middle of October, this year’s excursion was at the end of the month, the latest we have ever gone. As such, we experienced a much colder experience this time around.

For the second year in a row, in lieu of our tree planting as our school’s means of environmental stewardship we spent the first day at Cedar Glen working their on site farm. This year’s farm was much more advanced than last years, which gave our staff and students the opportunity to try their hands at many new farming activities. On our second day the weather decided to test us and turned cold, overcast and gave us intermittent rain.

Not to be intimidated by cold or precipitation, more than half of the staff and students chose to be outside for programming, while the remaining minority settled for warmth and board games indoors. Our last day was one with a bright blue sky and beautiful weather (which we wished would have made an appearance the day before) and as always, a bit of excitement about going home to our own beds, as well as sadness for having to leave a place that we love visiting. We impatiently wait until our next year’s visit.

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Album One | Album Two | Album Three

Visiting the Ontario College Fair

On October 18th, the Academy’s senior grade eleven and twelve students made their yearly pilgrimage to the Ontario College Fair. The students journeyed from booth to booth with the opportunity to ask questions to current college students and professors. The visit was a first for the grade eleven students. This first visit is meant to get them prepared and thinking about what they may like to study and which schools they may want to study at a year in advance of their actual application process. For the grade twelve students, it was their second visit, this time focusing in on the schools and programs they have already chosen for their applications.

The Elephant Toothpaste Lab

Chemical reactions occur all the time around us. Whether it is a cookie baking in the oven or a battery producing electricity, chemical reactions drive the world around us whether we notice them or not. There are eight types of chemical reactions, four of which we focus on in grade 10 chemistry. These reactions include:

  1. synthesis
  2. decomposition
  3. single displacement
  4. double displacement

Learning about the chemical formulas that represent chemical reactions although important, is no where near as exciting as seeing what these chemical reactions look like in real life. In order to help students see past the equations, we can carry out slightly scaled up chemical reactions in the classroom to bring them to life. One such reaction that is a perennial favourite is the “Elephant Toothpaste” reaction, so called because the end product looks like a large tube of toothpaste being squeezed out of a bottle large enough to clean an elephant’s teeth.

The reaction is an example of a decomposition reaction. Hydrogen peroxide is mixed with some dish soap (and food colouring for effect) and then mixed with either potassium iodide or baker’s yeast mixed with warm water. The hydrogen peroxide decomposes into water and oxygen. With the aid of the potassium iodide or baker’s yeast as catalysts to speed up the reaction, the oxygen enters the soap bubbles causing the substance to quickly expand out of its container and overflow like squished toothpaste all over the table. The result is an exited room of students and a happy science teacher.

Another demonstration of a chemical reaction that is very captivating is the dehydration of sugar by sulphuric acid. In this demonstration, sulphuric acid is added to plain granulated sugar. Sulphuric acid being a dehydrating agent strips the sugar molecules of water leaving behind carbon. The outcome looks like a spectacular display of what looks like a giant snake appearing out of no where and which is quite the spectacle to witness.

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