8th grade science teacher, Mr. Dumont, shared the following about the recent visit by the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District with our SeDoMoCha 8th graders
“First, I’d like to thank Kacey Weber and Alaina Kresovic for giving us their time and expertise. I feel really fortunate to have such wonderful professional scientists and education outreach specialists in our area. They put on a top notch experience for our students.
Our class is in the middle of a chemistry unit titled Chemistry of Materials. Our SEPUP textbook uses plastics and other chemicals to help students improve their observational skills and differentiate between different materials. They can then use those observations to determine which materials are best for certain jobs or tasks. For example, if a plastic has poor UV tolerance, it wouldn’t make sense to use as a lobster buoy. Furthermore, students are tasked with making models of the molecular structure of different chemicals and connecting those models to the observable properties of the chemical. I’ve gone a little further and gotten our local partners involved to study water chemistry and soil chemistry, with a similar focus on properties and molecular modeling.
We studied the pH and 15 other factors (mostly focused on salt content, herbicide content, and plant growth) in 3 water samples on SeDo’s campus as well as 8 freshwater sources in the area. Our conclusions were that our retention pond on campus is quite dirty! The pH of the pond is alkaline, it has lots of dissolved salts, motor oil, concrete/asphalt runoff, and cyanuric acid (bleach/herbicide indicator). The good news is that’s what retention ponds are for!
Recently, we explored 4 different soil types around SeDo’s campus with the help of both Kacey and Alaina. Students looked at multiple properties of the soil including its color, smell, water content, texture (size of chunks/grittiness), and particle type (e.g. sand, clay). Students took pH measurements at each site as well. The data collected by the 8th grade is being given to Grade 6 as they participate in another activity with PSWCD next week. 8th graders will tie this soil information in as they examine which kinds of soils will be best for different applications, draw molecular models of their pH, and draw molecular models of their particle size and compare that to models of solids, liquids, and gases. Comparing model systems allows students to think about the strengths and limitations of models and how well they approximate real life systems.”