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2006 Lab Abstracts

Along Side Nature

Walking around campus, we will learn about the giants of Mother Nature, the trees.  On campus and in your backyard, you have noticed that many trees look different.  How are they different?  What are their names?  Discover the methods in which botanists distinguish trees.  We will use tree identification guides to categorize and then talk about them.  We will explore the important tree biology concepts of spring renewal and growth by looking at the characteristics trees have in common. 

*In case it rains, we will pot plants in the greenhouse that you can later take home.*


The Case of the Burnt Down Doll Factory

Calling all sleuths and problem solvers:  The city of toy-land wants to build on what looks like an abandoned piece of land.  A resident, Grandma Smith, states that her family's doll factory used to be on the land until it burned down 100 years ago.  Unfortunately, the city lost all the records and she has no documents to show that her relatives owned it.  If Grandma Smith can prove that her family's doll factory was on this property, the city will build a doll factory.  She needs you, the archaeologist, to help her answer the question: Did a doll factory exist on this land in 1906?  Come dig and help Beloit College women archaeologists solve the problem for Grandma Smith.


Chemiluminescence: The Chemistry of Glow Sticks

What's in a glow stick?  How does it glow?  Here, we will observe the different properties of a glow stick and run different experiments with glow sticks.  What happens when we change temperatures?  Why do they do the things that they do?  We will discuss why glow sticks are so special and so cool. 


Edible Aquifers

Ever wonder where all the water goes after it rains?  Aquifers and groundwater are an important part of our lives, yet few people, including adults, know what they are or how they work.  This lab builds an aquifer model out of layers of ice cream, soda, and crushed candy.  Once the aquifer is made, a contaminant - food coloring - will be added, where you can see how it affects the aquifer.  These models will show the relationships of water and geology and explain confining layers, contamination, recharge, and water tables.  They will also be good to eat!


A Murder in Chamberlin: A Criminal Forensics Lab

Skeletal remains were recently discovered in the Chamberlin basement.  Investigators are having difficulty piecing together the evidence of this case.  We need your help, as forensic scientists, to examine the evidence and determine a culprit.  This lab will serve as an introduction to fingerprint collection and examination, DNA comparison, hair analysis, ballistics and determining time of death.  


“I Like to Move It, Move It” with Lemurs

Do you like to “move it, move it?”  Do you like exotic fuzzy animals?  One of the best ways to learn and understand an animal species is to imitate it!  In this lab, you will be transformed into a lemur to mimic their behaviors and lifestyle.  We will be exploring dominance hierarchies, movement, diet, and behaviors.


Owls?

This lab teaches you a little bit about owl anatomy, hunting adaptations and the food chain.  We will be discussing general cool owl facts and doing activities that will demonstrate how owls are adapted as nocturnal predators.  The focus of this lab will be the dissection of owl pellets, and how owl pellets can tell us about what owls eat and how they and their prey are part of the food chain.  


The Perfect Airplane

Why doesn’t an airplane just fall out of the sky?  What keeps it up in the air?  In this lab, we will explore how airplanes fly.  We will discuss the forces of lift, drag, gravity, thrust, and how airplanes must use these in order to remain aloft.  We will then explore the effects of these forces with our own airplanes.  We will decide on our designs, create our airplanes, and see how well they fly.


Trapped in a Jar

The greenhouse effect controls the environment and the atmosphere on a global scale.  Greenhouse gasses trap the sun’s energy in the atmosphere, regulating temperature and making the earth habitable for all living organisms—from algae to prairie grass, goats, and people.  Using a model “earth” and “atmosphere,” we will see how global temperature regulation occurs and how changes in greenhouse gasses can influence the earth’s environment.


What are the Odds? 
We all like to figure out the odds of something happening, to calculate the chances something may occur.  In this lab, we look at applying probability and statistics to several different situations.  We’ll drop toothpicks on parallel lines, pull M&M’s out of a jar, and play the Beloit version of Mini-Powerball, and use math to figure out what happens, and why.