Earth Science

Educational Resource

What is Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is the study of what happens when things get very, very small – only a few atoms in size. The word “nanometer” means one billionth of a meter, perhaps five or six atoms long. At the nanoscale, materials can have very different physical or chemical properties, even though they are the same. In particular, super thin films of material, only a few nanometers thick, can cause interference within light reflecting off them, resulting in beautiful displays of colors.

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Educational Resource

Let’s Make Some Static!

Although scientists do not fully understand the mechanism behind lightning, they think it is created when particles collide with other particles, causing them to generate and build up large amounts of static charges. The same basic process that creates lightning also occurs on a much smaller scale when you get a shock after shuffling across a carpet and touching a doorknob. What is giving you a shock is static electricity. In this set of activities, students will generate static electricity by rubbing or “charging” a balloon.

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Educational Resource

Basketball Physics

Many popular sports, including basketball, are based upon the use of a ball. Yet each type of ball is easily associated with a specific sport, because each ball is distinctly different. A ball’s performance is directly influenced by its characteristics or properties. For example, the oval shape of a football allows it to travel farther in the air than a ball that is round. In this activity, students will explore the properties of various balls from different sports, and discuss why the design of each ball is suited to its associated sport.

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Educational Resource

Mushroom Prints

In this lesson, students will be amateur mycologists--collecting and analyzing various mushrooms. Through observation and discussion, students will gain knowledge of the basic anatomy of mushrooms, their life cycle, and their method of reproduction through spores. Students will learn to create spore prints of mushrooms and label and preserve their spore prints, just like a mycologist. Students also will learn that by comparing spore prints, they can identify different mushroom species.

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Educational Resource

Gooey Gak

Complex fluids are special kinds of mixtures that have characteristics of more than one phase of matter. In this video, the combination of cornstarch and water resulted in a substance that exhibited the properties of a solid and a liquid depending on the amount of pressure or force applied to it. These types of fluids that don’t behave like what we think of as “normal” fluids are called non-Newtonian fluids. Many non-Newtonian fluids are made of polymers, long chains of repeating molecules that give the fluid unusual physical properties such as flexibility and strength.

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Segment

Ocean Priorities

Ira talks with Peter Seligmann, chairman of Conservation International, and with Philippe Cousteau Jr. about the connections between ocean policy, the environment, and the economy.

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