Beloit College
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2008 Lab Abstracts

The Mystery of the Mayan King’s Treasure
Ever wanted to find buried treasure? Here is your opportunity! We need your help to recover the lost golden amulet of the ancient Maya Lord She-Balba. Buried with this amulet are objects that provide important clues to understand the Maya religion and everyday life. By carefully digging through the sands of time, you will learn that gold is not the only treasure archaeologists dig up.

Murder in Chamberlin
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, ballistics, and construction of a profile of the victim.

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.

Dave Jone's Locker: Surface tension of water
Drop a rock into a pond and watch it sink. Drop a coin into a cup of water and see it drop. Finally throw a piece of everyday wood into a stream and you can just watch it float away. Why does this happen and how? With those experiments in mind, how then can 15,000 ton cruise liner sail around the oceans? If these questions intrigue you, come join the experiment by making your very own miniature boat and seeing what it takes to sink them to the deep dark depths of Davy Jones' Locker.

Physics of Music: Good VibrationsDo you like music?! Have you ever wondered where sound comes from? Come join us to discover how instruments work and experiment building your own clarinet. Let's play music together find out what good vibrations are all about!

Come Play with Alice!
Ever play the Sims? If you have, you know how fun it is to create your own world full of many different objects which you have complete control over! You can make them appear, disappear, move and so much more. Alice is a 3-D programming world where you control all the action, but it’s easy enough that you can start playing right away. Also, you will get your own copy of the software to continue when you get home. Come on and see how easy that computer programming can be.

Interested in owl anatomy, hunting adaptations and the food chain? We will discuss general and cool owl facts and do activities that demonstrate how owls are adapted as nocturnal predators. You will get to dissect owl pellets and examine them to learn what owls eat and how they and their prey are part of the food chain.

Glaciers: Ice and Snow on the GO!
Glaciers are unstoppable masses of ice that tear down mountains and form giant lakes. Glaciers have made Wisconsin what it is today. But how exactly did this ice move? How did it get here, where did it go? Come make a miniature glacier of your very own and find out!

Parent and Teacher Labs

DNA Structure
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the genetic material for all cellular organisms. The double helix structure of DNA carries the necessary information used for protein synthesis and replication to occur and assist in cellular activity. DNA has several different helical structures; some of these structures are used to control a few cellular processes. In this lab we will isolate DNA from a banana or liver by rupturing the cellular membrane to release the DNA into a solution. Using ethyl alcohol, we will then dehydrate and precipitate the DNA out of solution as it forms long strands. We will use a circular dichroism spectrometry to determine the DNA structure in two different salt environments.

Can we watch evolution in action? What can DNA tell us about how evolution works? Join us to play interactive natural selection games and run computer simulations to learn how populations develop different traits. To study evolution in action, we'll examine the evolution of lactose intolerance in humans and its relationship with language barriers.

Find the microorganisms
Have you ever been interested in the organisms that crawl around your counter top or live in your fish tank? Now you can meet them. You will be able to watch these mystery microorganisms in their normal lives through the lens of a microscope. Be prepared to become a lab tech and discover the unknown. After learning to use a microscope, you will draw these mystery animals and use teamwork to identify them.

Molecules and Water: They love it or hate it
Why are some molecules attracted to water, while others hate water? What do weak chemical bonds have to do with the structural integrity of proteins? We will learn techniques to study how the structure of a molecule and the weak bonds between the molecule and water determines the molecule’s behavior in liquids. Models of amino acids and lipids will be made out of ordinary materials to examine hydrogen bonding and the formation of cell membranes. Protein structures will be examined using 3D technology. These exercises will help you determine some of the properties that decide the shapes of proteins in solution, and ultimately, the connection between protein structure and function.

The Biochemistry of Pineapple Jell-O
This experiment is an introduction to using the scientific method to solve an easily accessible puzzle based on simple biochemistry: the effects of pineapples on gelatin. The directions on Jell-O brand gelatin warn that adding fresh pineapple will prevent the gelatin from solidifying. After testing this, we will confirm that fresh pineapple does indeed inhibit gelling, but canned pineapple does not. Based on this observation, we will formulate hypotheses and conduct further experiments to ascertain the biochemical mechanism for this pineapple effect. In the process of these experiments, we will emphasize the use of the scientific method and practice experimental design as we discuss basic concepts in biochemistry such as protein structure and biomolecules such as acids and bases, sugars, and enzymes.