Vital Signs Chicago – Enzymes

Vital Signs Chicago – Enzymes

Today, students learned the effects of how hydrogen peroxide is metabolized by the catalase enzyme. Before getting started, we found that they each had a general idea of what enzymes did in a chemical reaction, so we took it a step further and explored their effects on the function of the human body.

Throughout the experiment, they were able to see the effect of pH and on enzymes and what kinds of reactions can be made from simply changing the pH of a system.  “It makes sense how your body’s pH being too high or too low could make you sick,” said one student. They’ve already begun making connections and applying their new knowledge to their own lives!


Gold Medal STEM: Monday

Gold Medal STEM: Monday

The focus of one of today’s lesson was motion. However, student did not just learn what motion is, but rather how to record, measure and mathematically analyze motion. Using distance, time, and speed variables, our “Gold Medal” mathematicians developed graphs based on data they collected using a Calculator Based Ranger (CBR) and graphing calculator. Students learned which motions would cause changes in their graphs, as well as how to predict what graphs would look like based on how fast, far, or long they traveled.

Here a few pictures from throughout the day.

Vital Signs Chicago – BP & HR

Vital Signs Chicago – BP & HR

What do your blood pressure and heart rate really mean? Many students weren’t quite sure, but today, they got the chance to dig a little deeper. However, they did not spend the entire day learning about their blood pressure and heart rates; instead, they got the chance to measure, record, and analyze their own! The students learned the use of the sphygmomanometer and stethoscope then tested the effect of different stimuli on their own blood pressure.

Now that they have a better understanding of the systems within their own bodies, our new-generation of medical professionals are ready to begin learning how they can improve the lives of the world around them!

Here are some pictures from throughout the day.

Vital Signs Aurora: Banana Sutures

Today, our junior medical practitioners performed their first procedure! Students practiced sutures (or “stitches”) the same way that real doctors practice: on banana peels. They primarily investigated the layered nature of the skin, and how it relates to its main function: protection. Some students were surprised to learn that our skin is actually the largest organ in our bodies!

Our fledgling scientists will continue to use their rapidly developing medical skills in the days to come!

Ask your student:

What are the names of the three layers of the skin? (epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis)

What layer of the skin is the thickest? (hypodermis – 26 mm)

Vital Signs Aurora: Sheep Heart Dissection

Vital Signs Aurora: Sheep Heart Dissection

Day 2 is over, and our daring dissectors have had an in-depth look at the workings of every mammal’s most important organ: the heart! During their exploration, students continued to recognize the relationship between structure and function that is present everywhere in biological structures. One student commented, “Every piece of the organ has a specific job, and everything is efficient!”

The scientists-in-training will continue to explore this connection between structure and function as the week goes on!

Ask your student:

What are the jobs of the atria and ventricles of the heart? (Atria take blood from body back into the heart; ventricles pump blood to lungs and then back to the body.)

What is the difference between a vein and an artery? (arteries carry blood away from the heart; veins carry blood to the heart)


Vital Signs Aurora: Chicken Wing Thing

Vital Signs Aurora: Chicken Wing Thing

On the first day of a jam-packed week, students delved into anatomy by learning the basics of dissection! Our budding scientists explored the structures of a chicken wing, discovering characteristics that are shared with the human arm. As they examined deeper levels of complexity during their dissection, they observed the interactions between systems and structures that allow the wing to function.

Students also learned how to preserve the bones of the chicken wing in order to use them in one of Friday’s lessons!

Ask your student:

What is the difference between the flexor and extensor muscles? (They work together to move the arm/wing, flexor curls the limb, extensor extends it)

What are the two bones of the lower arm/wing? (radius and ulna)



Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois: Who are they?

The Golden Apples Scholars of Illinois program recognizes talented students who demonstrate the passion and drive to become excellent teachers.  This scholarship program provides these scholars with financial stipends, residential summer institutes, and mentoring from a Golden Apple teacher.   In exchange, Golden Apple Scholars agree to work in high-needs schools.  IMSA and the Golden Apples program have been in partnership for 9 years.  This year, IMSA is pleased to host 30 scholars for a four week residential summer institute.

Scholars will be immersed almost immediately in preparing for delivering IMSA’s Statewide Student Initiatives Summer Program, Gold Medal STEM.  They will learn both content and pedagogical approaches to engage their learners in a journey through the 2016 Rio Olympic Games through the lens of force and motion.

Throughout the week, learners will design and develop a mechanical swimmer to meet a series of performance criteria and ultimately compete against a rival design.  They will explore materials and engineer a safety helmet for a cyclist, and will also explore properties of materials used in pole vaulting.  They will investigate rotational inertia, rolling resistance, gear ratios, and applications of Magnus force in Olympic ball sports.  Additionally, learners will use technology to graph motion and apply their knowledge to various sports scenarios.  They will design their own experiments to recommend appropriate materials for an Olympic swim team and will generate and test their own questions in discovering how divers minimize splash.  Other activities will have learners investigating third-class levers to determine which combination of ball and grip position is ideal for a field hockey player and reaching for new heights as they explore standing vertical jumps.

The Golden Apples Scholars look forward to the opportunity to engage and challenge summer campers as they explore the science, technology, engineering, and mathematical aspects of Olympic sports.