Integrated Science – Thursday
This afternoon the Integrated Science students were visited by Melissa Lenczewski, a professor of Geomicrobiology at Northern Illinois University, along with two of her research students. Professor Lenczewski and her students shared their recent research on groundwater in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Their research focus was how tourism impacts the area drinking water when chemical residues seep through the grounds after people swim in popular water-filled pits, called cenotes. After the presentation students participated in two hands-on activities. They practiced filling and flipping Whirl-Pak laboratory sample bags, and then looked at bacteria on their fingers under a UV light box to see how well they washed their hands!
Integrated Science – Wednesday
On Wednesday students in the Integrated Science program expanded their understandings of water by incorporating the concept of carbon. In the morning they dove into photosynthesis – how plants convert light energy into “food” – first by reviewing the basics in a classroom mini-lecture, and then by performing an experiment in the lab. They removed all the gas from pieces of spinach, dropped them in various solutions, and viewed them under different colored light conditions to see if they floated as they released gas while photosynthesizing. Throughout the rest of the day students continued focusing on how carbon factors in to our understanding of water, especially in terms of metabolism in biological organisms.
Integrated Science – Tuesday
Today students in the Integrated Science Residential Program continued their exploration of the properties and possibilities of water. In the morning, students began investigating current topics in water, ecosystems, and conservation for their week-long research projects. They also were introduced to osmosis: the movement of water through a membrane. In the afternoon, students applied that knowledge to a real-world scenario by emulating Red Cross workers in a dialysis-simulation lab. They soaked semipermeable tubes of mystery “dialysis solution” in “blood” – water dyed with red food coloring – and measured changes in mass and color between the different tubes. Kidneys clean waste products from your blood, of course, as part of the job of maintaining a delicate balance of water in the body, and Dr. Randall discussed with students how these processes in the human body mirror the cycling of water through ecosystems.