Sunday, June 4, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 5/26

This week I made ferrofluid! It didn’t spike like I hoped it would, but it was definitely magnetic and fluid, so it wasn't a total failure. After some preparations and the acquisition of kerosene, I went into the fume hood to stir some chemicals. I didn't make as much ferric chloride solution as the recipe called for, so I had to use about ¼ of everything in the recipe to make the ratios match up. This could’ve been where some of the error came from, I might’ve accidentally messed up one of the chemical's ratios. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly, and after about an hour and a half in the fume hood I came out with the final product. It was the color I would expect, and it responded to a magnet so it was clearly magnetic, but instead of forming spikes it formed more of a weak blob. Although it technically worked, overall I was disappointed, so I’ll definitely give it another try. I couldn’t make another batch last week because I used the school’s whole supply of ammonia over the weekend I got more ammonia from Walmart and am now stocked up for round #2. After the Seniors present their genius hours, I’ll be able to try the recipe again. This time I’m going to follow the exact amounts listed, and hopefully I’ll make ferrofluid that’s less lame.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 5/21

Week two of attempting to synthesize ferrofluid was again unsuccessful. Like week one, however, I learned a lot.

Lesson #1: ferrofluid is a lot harder to make than the internet says. My attempt of mixing ferric chloride with iron powder failed, which isn’t too surprising since I was improvising based on a mixture of ferrofluid recipes from a bunch of different places. This is where I learned....

Lesson #2: when it comes to complex chemistry, don’t improvise. It turns out that this didn’t work because the iron chunks (even though very small) were too large to be suspended in the oil the way I wanted. The iron particles in ferrofluid are microscopically tiny, which is why it works the way it does, and iron powder is too large. Making smaller iron particles is very difficult, and it’s what I’ve been working on since I figured out what was wrong with my previous attempt. I found a new recipe that seems much more trustworthy, since it was made by a chemistry teacher, and I’ve been trying to follow it for the majority of the week. The first step in the recipe is to basically mix ferric chloride with steel wool until it turns green. This didn’t work at first because I tried to use 1M ferric chloride, which was too weak to dissolve the steel wool and carry out the reaction. Using my shaky chemistry skills I managed to make 1.5M ferric chloride, which worked a little better. Once I had the right solution, I spent all week stirring in steel wool in the attempt to get a neon green solution. This brings us to...

Lesson #3: read the directions! This was the stupidest mistake I made, and also the most important lesson. I had seen somewhere in the recipe that the solution was supposed to turn bright green, and mine was only turning a murky brownish green, which I didn’t think was a good sign. I kept making a stronger solution of ferric chloride, eventually getting up to around 2M, but it kept turning the same murky green. Eventually I reread the directions more thoroughly and realized this was because I needed to filter the solution (oops). After filtering, it turned bright green, like I’d been hoping all week. If I'd read the directions better, I could've saved myself three days of stirring steel wool.

This week I’ll attempt the most complicated (and dangerous) part of the process. Hopefully by Friday I'll be the proud creator of some ferrofluid To the fume hood I go!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 5/15

This week was a lot of Genius Hour trial and error. I decided to make ferrofluid for my project, which is basically a liquid that responds to a magnetic field and has a lot of cool uses, since it is a liquid carrier. I found a few recipes for ferrofluid online, and the easiest one was to soak cassette tape ribbons in acetone to strip the iron from the tapes, and then to add vegetable oil to goop it up a bit. Unfortunately, this absolutely didn’t work. I’m not really sure why this is, since several sources said it would, but tried a different approach, which is to basically add ferric chloride to iron particles, and then add vegetable oil. I left the iron/ferric chloride to dry out, so tomorrow I’ll add vegetable oil to see if I actually made ferrofluid or if I have to try a different (more chemistry heavy) approach to making it. Hopefully this will work so I can start messing around with it this week, but if it doesn’t it’ll still work out since I have enough time to try a few other things.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Reflection for Week of May 8

This week was exam week! I spent most of this week either taking or studying for exams, so I didn’t get a ton of bio done. I was only in class two days, and only Friday was really spent seriously exploring Genius Hour ideas. Initially, I wanted to do an experiment with jellyfish and how they adjust to certain pHs, since jellyfish are supposed to survive climate change well since they can adjust to changing water acidity. Unfortunately, jellyfish are absurdly expensive so I’ve had to scrap that idea. Something that we touched on this year that I would like to learn more about it electromagnetism, but I’m still in the stages of coming up with an actual idea out of this. Hopefully tomorrow and the next day I can fine tune an idea so I can get started on my project.  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 4/24

This week we spent a lot of time on the transpiration lab, and also covered some information on neurons and ecology. I think that I did well on the work this week. A lot of the stuff on neurons I was already familiar with since we covered it in Psych last year, but it was a nice review and refresher on terminology and the details of how the charges drive signals. All of the ecology stuff was interesting and not something I feel like I’ll have to study since it makes a lot of sense already. The transpiration lab was a nice way to review some of the properties of water and also look at plant anatomy, and it was interesting to see how environmental factors (in this case salt) affected a process that I already know about. Moving forward I just need to study for the AP exam, which is in about a week! To do this I’ll review vodcasts and the textbook, making sure to go back through everything we’ve done and spend a bit more time on things that are more difficult for me, like energetics and specific vocabulary that might come up.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 4/10

This was another short week, since I missed Friday and Thursday was entirely spend on an exam. The other three days we spent with the hearts! This was really cool and I think I definitely gained a better understanding of the anatomy of hearts and more of how that plays into the circulatory system. Reviewing for the exam also helped cement all the knowledge from this unit, so overall I think I gained a lot out of this week as far as material and understanding go. This coming week I'll spend more time reviewing the maintenance information and becoming more confident on all the Unit 5 content, as well as reviewing earlier content since the AP exam is approaching.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 4/3

This was a pretty short week because of SATs and the early release, but I still think the work went pretty well. This week we started on Domain 5, which is regulation. This is something that we didn’t really cover in advanced bio, so I’m having to put a little more time into learning it well. So far, though, I think I’m doing well on the work for this domain. The group project we did this week was really helpful to get a good overview of a lot of different processes and get into the specifics of them a little bit as well. I think this week, especially with the exam coming up, I’ll spend a lot of time reviewing the information by rewatching some vodcasts, going over my notes, and reading the textbook. That should give me a pretty solid understanding of all of the material that we’re covering this unit.