As a part of the theme of education week, scientists do amazing things, on the twenty-second of May, the 5/6s of MPPS went to visit GTAC. We learnt about recognizing how changing temperatures can affect the state of a substance.
We started off the day with a special demonstration. A scientist (Simone) asked us how many balloons would fit inside a fairly small container filled with an unknown substance. I guessed five. As soon as the lid was opened, cold gas started flowing out of it. It turned out that ten balloons fitted inside the container. I was surprised. Simone taught us why so many balloons could go inside. It was due to the liquid nitrogen that was in the container. Liquid nitrogen is a very, very cold liquid. It is negative one hundred and ninety-six degrees Celsius. Once the lid was opened, the liquid flowed as gas. The temperature liquid nitrogen was so cold, it had the power to affect the shape of the balloon. The balloons all shrivelled up. Once the balloons were taken out, they returned to their normal posture.
Next we were handed a sheet to show how the particles inside a blown up balloon would act compared to a shrivelled up one. The gas particles in a blown up balloon would move around freely, whereas the ones in a shrivelled up balloon with a smaller space would be tightly packed.
Afterwards, we learnt about how the steps of heating and cooling. If something were to be heating up, it would firstly melt, and then evaporate. If something were to be cooled, it would freeze, and then condense. After this, we headed out for recess processing in our head, what we just learnt.
At recess, we ate something to get our brains going and ran around to burn up our energy. Soon enough, we were back at GTAC.
Once we were back at GTAC, we were handed over to our special scientist mentors. My first mentor to go to was Adina. She informed us about a special water treatment. Firstly, you have to add a special translucent chemical called ‘Flocculent’. This brings all the dirt down to the bottom. Then the water must be filtered. After that, the water must be chlorinated in order for us to drink it.
My next scientist mentor, Paul, taught us about oil slicks. He told us about phosphate in the oil that harms nature and the oceans beauty. We measured the acidity of certain liquids with the pH test. Soon we moved onto a phosphate test. We measured the phosphate in a detergent that was so called ‘phosphate free’. It turned out that the detergent had a phosphate measure of 50! Since detergent goes down the drains, the phosphate in it ends up in oceans polluting it.
Next, a scientist mentor, Sam talked about the relationship between oil and water. Oil does not dissolve into water. Instead, it just stays up the top. Oil particles and water particles do not bond together. They repel from each other. He taught us a fast and efficient way to remove oil. You just mix detergent with it.
After that, we washed our hands to make sure they were clear of chemicals before heading out to lunch as Melbourne Uni. I was hoping to see my dad there (because he works at Howard Florey Institute), but I just missed him.
After that, we walked quickly back to GTAC to make sure we didn’t miss any activities. The activity was the last one for the day. We learnt a bit more about filtering water with Nicole and Shosh. We had a close look at the bacteria inside dirty water with both a compound and stereo microscope. Bacteria is tiny and isn’t visible to a naked eye.
Soon after, the day had flown by and we thanked the scientists of GTAC for a wonderful day. We arrived back at school right on time looking forward to our next session with GTAC.
Some things I remember are the processes of obtaining fresh water from dirty water, one step being to chlorinate. I remember looking through a huge microscope to see tiny bacteria super big. Another thing I remember is the lying detergent which was ‘totally’ phosphate free. NOT. I will remember that for a long time.
Some things I now understand are the reason why oil doesn’t mix with water and how to take oil away. I understand the different methods of how to take oil away along with the time it takes to do each.
I have learnt a lot of things in this wonderful experience, but I am still left with a question. Why doesn’t flocculent affect a human when swallowed?