At the Wednesday evening’s monthly Bellwood-Antis School Board meeting the school board members were treated to a presentation, as well as a brief education, into the concept of hydrophobicity. The presentation was made by the students in Ms. Kuhn’s fifth grade science class.
This winter, students in Ms. Kuhns’ grade five science classes conducted exciting research into the concept of hydrophobicity. Hydrophobicity is defined as the tendency for something to repel water. Students participated in experimentation in order to create their own hydrophobic molds.
The purpose of the lab was designed to help students understand the hydrophobicity of naturally occurring materials and how they can be replicated. It was modeled after the research that has been conducted at Penn State University, University Park, in which Ms. Kuhn participated in as part of the Summer Research educational program that was offered for teachers.
These students then collected samples that display high hydrophobic properties such as rose petals and butterfly wings. It was pointed out by the school district staff the butterfly wings that were collected were ordered from Penn State University. There were no butterflies that were harmed in the name of science. The students measured contact angles and made replica molds from PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) of the hydrophobic plant and butterfly samples. The students then collected and compared data between the naturally-occurring and reproduced samples to determine the hydrophobicity of the surfaces. The end results were the students successfully produced molds that had high hydrophobic properties close to the original samples!
In order to display their data and report their conclusion, the students used PicCollage located on their iPads.
According to Dr. Donald Wagner, middle school principal, “I was really impressed with Ms. Kuhn’s ability to take a complex concept such as this and create an age appropriate activity for students. The project highlights exactly what we want to achieve here at the Bellwood-Antis Middle School – taking the knowledge gained through classroom lessons and applying it to solve real world problems,” Dr. Wagner stated.
The students also displayed a real learning knowledge of what they had just accomplished and provided that during their presentation to the members of the school board. The students did provide a very impressive presentation according to several school board members and administrators.
Educational activities such as these at all grade levels within the Bellwood-Antis School District lend credence to the comment that has been made several times by Dr. Thomas McInroy, school superintendent, who offered, “We are very happy with how our students here at Bellwood-Antis are active participants in their educational process.”