Your Science Update

In Dr. Zaradic’s eighth grade science classes, students have been writing weekly blog posts on topics that interest them. The Phoenix Inquirer, in collaboration with Dr. Z., selected a handful of these to feature on our website. We hope to continue this practice as more exceptional blog entries are written so that student learning can benefit, and be enjoyed by, the entire community.  

Chimps And Medicine by James Meyers

I read about how some chimpanzees have been using plants to treat parasetic infections. Michael Huffman was watching some chimps in East Africa. He saw a mother chimp on a bed of leaves and sticks while the son climbed dangerously high. She was too sick to call him, so she ignored him. Later, she was able to get up and went over to a bush and removed some branches. Huffman was watching and saw that the chimp chewed on the outside of the branch, and then sucked in the juice. Huffman consulted his research partner and discovered that the plant the chimp had taken from was a medicinal shrub. It has been used to treat stomach aches, malarial fevers and gut infections. Huffman was thrilled. Over the next few years, he discovered that other chimps use that shrub to treat ailments, as well. I thought this was really cool to see that even chimpanzees find ways to treat illnesses.

Tasty Roads by Gabby Wilkinson

I read an article about ways to deice roads instead of using regular rock salt. The United States spends $2.3 million every year to battle harsh winter conditions. The New York State Department has been investigating new ways to keep roads open and safe when it snows and the roads become icy. Sources of salt brines, such as potato and cheese byproducts and beet juice, help lower the number of crashes and are much more effective at temperatures well below zero. These agriculture-based brines were rated highly by many states. They said that these ice melting methods make the wintry roads much safer. Beet juice is created through the sugar beet process. It’s combined with salt. The beet juice freezes at a lower temperature, which is better than just pure salt. Another eco-friendly alternative to road salt is cheese. Cheese brine consists of wasted dairy mixed with original rock salt. The cheese brine is effective in temperatures as low as -21 degrees. Lastly, potato juice is another eco-friendly salt alternative when there is ice and snow on the ground. Even though salt is an excellent deicer, it’s bad for the environment and your pets. These different methods have a tremendous impact on environmental concerns, road safety and cost savings.

3D Display Lets Video Chatters Interact With Remote Objects! By Evan Paszamant

Have you ever seen a movie where a character goes through a screen into the “real world”? While I am not saying that this action has been created, there still is something like it that has been invented. Introducing inFORM! inFORM is a cross between Skype and and those bizarre ’90s pin art toys. This outstanding invention was created by the talented students of MIT. What is this amazing invention, you might ask? Read on to learn more!

The inFORM works by having a long wireless line of communication connected to a surface that is comprised of 30 to 30 by 30 pins. At the base of each pin is a motor which moves one pin up and down when told to. In total there are 180 pins connected to 180 mini motors! The person at the beginning end, uses a live motion camera (similar to Kinect on Xbox) to find the depth in his hand movements. Once the live feed begins, the data is sent to the surface board to be produced in a 3D form. It essentially makes a 3D pop-up of your hand movements while you are on the other end live. Isn’t that insane?

The future of this technology is still in question, but its developers say that it could be used to see 3D cat scans, help create terrain models for urban planners and possibly have international contracting meetings while creating a 3D design for a building. The machine already has this capability though! This goes to show you that, with inventions, the sky truly is the limit!

I hope that you have actually learned something from this crazy (and very awesome) idea. Who knows? Maybe one day you will invent the next big thing.

Bees by Julien Gruber

Had any honey recently? I’m guessing not as often as you used to. Right now there are lots of bees dying in the U.S. This is a very big problem because the bees pollinate the crops so we have lost $30 billion worth of crops–and 10 million entire beehives–which is raising the price of honey. Wild beehives are also having lots of trouble surviving, and the question is why. I have been reading on this topic and one of the main reasons is pesticides and fungicide on plants to keep other crop killers away, which is actually killing the good insects. Research has shown that some of these pesticides (pest killers) and fungicides (fungus killers) are causing CCD, or Colony Collapse Disorder. CCD occurs when, out of the blue, an entire beehive dies all at once. This is affecting the bee population horribly, which was already low from other issues. If we don’t act soon, food prices are going to skyrocket because the crop supply will go down. The government really needs to create more laws about pesticides and fungicides.

Landfills by Danielle Schweitzer

Many people know that trash and landfills are bad for the environment but no one knows exactly how bad they are. Read to find out more about the harmful effects of landfills. There are about 250 million tons of trash put into the ground each year just in the U.S.! That means that each person contributes 4.5 pounds of waste a day. There are many bad things that can happen because of this pracitce. First, our land: Each year when we waste 250 million tons of trash in the US it takes a lot of land for it to fill all of our trash. It takes enough land for us to bury 16,000 football fields ten feet deep into the ground. This effects our air because landfills emit 5.6 million tons of methane into the air each year. Methane is the second largest contributor to climate change. Landfills also give off 170 pollutants and 44 air toxins, which is awful. Landfills also create leachate, a liquid that can potentially be poisonous. Leachate affects our underground water, making it toxic and creating great difficulties for generations to come.

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