We were looking into oil spills and were tasked to separate all the materials inside this heterogeneous mixture containing sand, sea water (salt and water solution), styrofoam, iron filings, oil and other organic materials inside. We first came up with different methods on how to separate the mixture individually, then came together as a group to discuss how we were going to separate the substances (with consideration of the physical properties of the substance) and separated the mixture at last. Please take a look at the pictures bellow to see the original mixture and the different substances grouped together after being separated.
We were not extremely successful, but we had separated all the substances at the end. I must admit, this was a challenging task because we must apply all of our knowledge on separation techniques and physical properties and carry out a plan that could clean up the “mess”. Our example is just a smaller scale of what’s happening outside in the real world. After an oil spill is reported, environmental scientists must come up with an effective, feasible and efficient plan to clean up the oil spill. Meanwhile, they also want to limit the harm which will affect the environment in a long-term and on a large scale. Scientists outside are always thinking of ways and solutions to solve many of our problems. They are the group of people who are using their scientific knowledge, apply them to analyze from small daily problems we have to all the significant, life-threatening issues. Scientists come up with solutions by using all their knowledge as well as thinking out of the box to design the plan for the solution and this is exactly what WE ALL NEED TO DO.
People, specifically students of our generation should start taking actions and build up this responsibility. If we already have sufficient resources, technology, and knowledge to help us, why can’t we “become a part of the solution”? Indeed, our understanding of chemistry carries a certain level of responsibility in our community. People who have the knowledge yet they are not doing something with it are just simply selfish and incompetent. We should somehow share our knowledge with other people by coming up with new ideas and eventually help improve the world in some way. We are the ones causing most of the problems, we are the ones to blame, but we are also the ones to get up, do something and solve the problems that we have made.
The picture above is the final result of our group’s density tube experiment.
We used our knowledge that we learned on density and experimented with 12 different substances. You could see different layers and colors in the tube. They were the different substances ordered by the substances that were less dense at the top and the densest at the bottom. Our group was very successful with teamwork because we successfully planned by dividing up the responsibilities, which made the flow of the experiment very smooth.
Before we started pouring the substances into the graduated cylinder, we shared our ideas of the densities of each substance and predicted the order of the substances from highest to lowest (the same order we’re going to put the substances in the graduated cylinder). I made assumptions of the densities based on the thickness of the substances.
The top section of the final tube is very nicely stacked, which looks very nice visually. However, in the middle, you can see a thick, light blue color. That is the mixture of water and milk. Water has a density of 1 and milk has a density of 1.06, which is not a very big difference. Even though we put the milk (should have a higher density) below the water, the water and milk somehow got mixed together. I predicted that if we kept the tube there for a longer time, the milk and water would eventually get back together.
Here are our predictions: