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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Q2 i2 Benchmark

   My previous timeline was a bit ambitious and put too many different steps into one month. Therefore, I have made some minor changes to my timeline to adjust and make this project more reasonable, manageable, and achievable. So far, the only changes I have made to my project concern planning and I have not yet changed anything that has to do with my topic and my final product.

Revised Timeline:
-Begin planning research opportunities and finding resources that can help me achieve my goal
-Begin research using mainly print sources
     ex. borrow most sources from libraries; take notes 
-Continue research using sources
-Finalize project plan
Winter Break
-Continue research (begin notebook, finish Missing Microbes)
-Contact any possible mentors/adults that can assist
-Possible blog post (summarizing work done during this time)
Finish research and begin conceptualizing/conducting experiment 
Begin experiment 
Continue experiment
Complete experiment, do write up and compile/edit footage
Finalize my presentation (write up/video) 

Evidence of Progress:
     Since the first blog post in October, I have begun my research and read several different articles about microbiology to get a feel for the subject. While I have only annotated and highlighted these articles, over winter break I plan to compile all of my notes into a single notebook for added organization.

The first two articles in a series of articles I read/annotated from a March 2015 edition of Scientific American that focused on microbiology; both articles focus on new discoveries that suggest we can actually CHANGE our individual microbiomes to prevent diseases such as Chron's disease and obesity! Read the one on the left here.
This article, from University College Cork in Ireland, explains how the microbiota in our gut "talks" to our brain and helps control our behavior. 

     I just finished an amazing book called The Invisible Kingdom by Idan Ben-Barak. This book easily became one of my favorites because it is written in a way that makes the author's passion for his field of study infectious. He explains even the most complex microbiology terms simply enough for high schoolers to understand (something I really appreciate). The Invisible Kingdom has made me even more motivated to continue working on this project. This week I have just begun reading Martin J. Blaser's (the director of the Human Microbiome Project, my inspiration for this project) book Missing Microbes. I plan to finish this book during or shortly after winter break.

The three books I have borrowed so far; I am currently reading the one on the bottom.

     As seen in the previous section, I have added more steps to the December/Winter Break section of my timeline. Since I didn't get to contact possible mentors earlier, I plan to draft and send emails to them over the next two weeks during break. I hope that the break in schoolwork will allow for some much-needed project organization as well.

Project Reviews:

Purva Joshi (2019):
     Purva's i2 project is to construct a website that will help kids with dyslexia. I like that her project targets a certain need in the world and merges her interests with this need. However, she may be a  bit too ambitious (which is actually a really good problem to have) since making a website this complex is no small task. I suggest devoting more time/most of the year to honing her coding skills. At the end of the year, she could display the skeleton/one activity of her website and just finalize all of its aspects next year. Her intentions are admirable and I'm really looking forward to what Purva comes up with at the end of the year.

Sarina Patel (2018):
     Sarina's i2 project is to improve her baking skills and record her progress on a baking blog/website. Her project is very unique (I haven't seen any other i2 member whose project involves cooking!) and tangible. The nature of her project allows for lots of physical evidence and opportunity for improvement since it is skill based. In terms of suggestions, if she wants to depict a clear picture of her improvement I suggest choosing to make a dessert that she believes requires more advanced skills. She could make one now and see how she does, then continue working on this recipe until she masters it. For her final result/display she could provide pictures of her first attempt then have the actual "mastered" result at her table at the end of the year. Overall, I like Sarina's project!

Shalina Bulchandani (2017):
     Shalina's i2 project is to design, draw, and physically build architectural models. Architecture is another interesting field and involves lots of opportunities for tangible evidence of improvement. Since she said she was interested in designing houses customized for families, I suggest she looks to shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for inspiration. The fact that she plans to physically build, and even 3D print, models of her designs is really cool and I'm excited to see what she accomplishes by the end of this year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The One With Magic Sand

Unit 1.C: Intermolecular Structure 

"Why did the bear dissolve in water? It was a polar bear."

Practice Problems:

   For this cycle, the problems we were given all required us to identify the polarity of certain compounds and how this would affect how they reacted with other compounds. I was originally a little confused with which element of a covalent compound would be partially negative. After learning that the element farther on the right of the periodic table would be partially negative, I had a much easier time working on the practice problems. Another aspect of the practice problems that I struggled with was when the compound was 3D, because the forces within the compound would be different compared to those of 2D compounds.
Ex. of Understood Problems
  1. Draw an IMF interaction diagram that shows the mixing of water with ethanol (CH3CH2OH)

Ex. of Challenging Problems
Draw an IMF interaction diagram for BH3
(why is this compound 3D and not 2D? isn't the B fulfilled by the 3 bonds and therefore needs no lone pairs?)

     On the first day of the cycle, we were asked what was in a bubble of boiling water. My group was stumped. At first, we thought that the H2 and O would separate. But we realized this would just result in a bunch of explosions, which obviously doesn't happen when you boil water. We remembered that the difference between gases and liquids was the space between molecules. So we hypothesized that the bubble still contained H2O as a gas, with its molecules farther apart than the ones in the liquid. This turned out to be correct!

Our drawing depicting what is in bubbles of boiling water.
     Our next activity ended up becoming one of my most favorite labs we've done so far. We put water and hexane in a test tube and found that the two didn't mix. Next, we put in copper sulfide and iodine and shook the mixture, only to find that the purple iodine stayed at the top with the hexane while the blue copper stayed at the bottom with the water. As a class, we learned that this was because the positively charged copper ions were attracted to the partially negative oxygen in water. This explained why the water and copper stayed at the bottom no matter how much we shook the tubes.

The test tube with copper sulfide and iodine
Water and hexane (top) in the test tube

     Another activity we did for this cycle was comparing the evaporation times of four different liquids: hexane, ethanol, propanol, and acetone. We found that liquids with weaker IMFs evaporated faster since the forces holding together each molecule weren't as strong.

The chemical on the left has weaker IMFs, therefore it evaporates more quickly

     We also did a lab where we compared the effects of holding a charged rod by streams of different liquids: hexane, water, and ethanol. Just like the last activity, the IMFs dictated how each liquid behaved. Compared to hexane (which was non-polar, thus wasn't attracted to the rod) and ethanol (which only had one partially positive hydrogen that could be attracted to the rod), water had two partially positive hydrogens and was drawn to the rod the most.
The water is strongly attracted to the negatively charged rod

     This cycle was full of really interesting labs, especially the next one. We compared the behavior of normal sand and "magic sand" in water. While normal sand behaved just as we thought it would, magic sand stayed dry even when we mixed it in water. This was because it was sprayed with chemicals that had london dispersion IMFs.
Notice how the sand mixes with the water and becomes clumpy
The magic sand stayed dry!
     Two other activities we did during this cycle showed the effect of dish soap when mixed in water. The first activity used pepper and water. When we dipped a small amount of detergent in the center of the dish, the pepper showed how the dish soap mixed with the water and weakened the IMFs between the water. In the second activity, we used milk instead of water and food coloring instead of pepper, but the results were still the same.

The pepper and water activity

The milk and food coloring activity (skip to 1:05)

     Finally, the class got to try chromatography and analyze some pen samples in order to figure out who left Mr. Musallam a certain note. We got a sample of each pen on filter paper and dipped the end of each piece in water. For one sample, as the water traveled up the paper so did the ink. For the other sample, this did not happen.


A time lapse of the chromatography activity

Quiz: (To Be Edited After The Tests Get Returned):
     I was really happy that we got to have a group quiz for this cycle because I liked having others to work the problems out with. All the problems on the test had similar solutions and dealt with the fact that compounds with similar IMFs were soluble with each other, while unlike IMFs were not. The final problem concerning why the certain components in bubble solution made bubbles was confusing for me, and I'd like to find out the solution.

  • Why do the chemicals in bubble solution make bubbles?
  • Are there any exceptions to the "like IMFs are soluble with each other, unlike IMFs are not" rule?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The One Where We All Gained Some Modeling Experience

Unit 1.B: Intramolecular Structure 

Part 2: Covalent Compounds

"What element is a girl's future best friend? Carbon."

Practice Problems:

     In this unit, the type of problem that I had the most difficulty with was when I had to apply what I knew about molecular geometry to an actual picture of a more complex compound and identify specific molecular shapes. Seeing the compound as an actual model slightly confused me since I was used to seeing compounds on paper. I understood most other practice set problems, though it did take me a while to memorize the bond angles of different molecular shapes.
Ex. of Understood Problems
Draw the Lewis structure for the the phosphate ion, PO43-.

Ex. of Challenging Problems
Shown below is the a molecular model for the neurotransmitter Serotonin. Circle a bent atom and place a square around a pyramidal atom.

     On the second day of the cycle, we were asked to predict whether methane or acetylene is more explosive. Since methane has less bonds between atoms and therefore should be "easier to separate/blow up", my group guessed that it was more explosive. We later learned that acetylene was more explosive because the triple bond between its carbon atoms has more "bond strain" and wants to break apart more than methane's single bonds. However simply learning these things just didn't do it for our class, so we got to see for ourselves just how explosive acetylene is! 

An "Irish For a Day" guest experiences methane's explosive properties firsthand

Igniting acetylene, the more explosive compound
     We were introduced to molecular geometry and learned about five different types of compound shapes. These five types were: linear, bent, triangular planar, triangular pyramidal, and tetrahedral. All these compound shapes are governed by VSEPR theory, or "valence shell electron pair repulsion".

My notes for VSEPR theory, notice the special way 3D compounds are drawn
     During this cycle we got to try and "hack" some problems taken from previous AP exams. Instead of just solving them on paper, we got to make physical models of the compounds in the problems. This gave us a unique view regarding molecular geometry problems and really helped me understand VSEPR theory more.

Two of the models we made while solving previous AP chemistry exam problems
Quiz: (To Be Edited After The Tests Get Returned)
     This cycle's second quiz required more computations in comparison to the previous one, which was one of the major factors that slowed me down. Though I prepared using both the practice set and the examples in the summary notes, the final problem (similar to the "challenging" problem mentioned above) still took me longer than I would have liked. I kept on second guessing myself and was unsure if I chose the correct central atom.

  • Regarding the exceptions to the formula for finding a compound's number of bonds, why does hydrogen only want 2 electrons and boron only want 6?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Q1 i2 Project Benchmark


     This year, I have decided to pursue an interest that I have wanted to work on for years. Ever since being introduced to the world of microbiology through a PBS game show episode that premiered when I was 6, I have wanted to conduct some sort of research concerning this field of study. But as the years passed I believed that I would never get the opportunity to do so. Until now!

     My i2 project this year will be a combination of learning a skill and making a product that demonstrates my knowledge. Drawing most of my inspiration from the Human Microbiome Project, I will learn how to identify various types of bacteria and conduct an experiment of my own in which I will collect and identify bacteria from human samples. In terms of a tangible product, I will document this process by filming it and by making a write up summarizing my experiment. 

     After learning about the Human Microbiome Project, I suddenly recalled my first-grade self's  interest in the subject. Since then, there have been countless advancements in microbiology. A few of my favorite videos describing the human microbiome project and applications of microbiome research can be found below.

Above is a description of the HMP and how it works, from the University of Michigan Health System. This video helped me further my knowledge on the HMP and what they do.  A part of my goal is to be able to understand most of the complex terms included in this video as well as the HMP website.

A short, interesting video that reveals the connection between dogs and human microbiomes, from the Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois, included above. It describes an interesting relationship that I was not previously aware of and one that I might integrate into my experiment.

A video courtesy of the Argonne National Lab describing fascinating research connecting the human microbiome and food allergies is found above. Just as the previous video, this shows an aspect of microbiology that I may want to pursue in my experiment.


Actions (filming will take place during nearly all these steps)
Begin planning research opportunities and finding resources that can help me achieve my goal
      ex. contact adults that can provide leads and/or act as mentors;                       preferably in the microbiology field
Finalize my "game plan" and who/what will assist me in my project
      ex. come up with project plan and schedule
Begin research using mainly print sources
     ex. borrow most sources from libraries; take notes 
Continue my research over the break/begin planning experiment*
Finish research and begin conceptualizing/conducting experiment 
Begin experiment 
Continue experiment
Complete experiment, do write up and compile/edit footage
Finalize my presentation (write up/video) 

*subject pending, since it is dependent on my research

     My long term plan is to build up to being involved in bioinformatics. This year, I will work on the "bio" part. If all goes well, I would like to continue this project next year as a junior by learning how to code. This would fulfill the "informatics" portion by bridging my research from this year and the coding skills I will learn as a junior. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The One Where We Explode A Gummy Bear

Unit 1.B: Intramolecular Structure 

Part 1: Ionic Compounds

"If H2O is water and H2O2 is hydrogen peroxide, what's H2O4?  

Practice Problems:

     Problems that involved Electron Configuration were a little confusing at first, but once I got used to reading the chart I was able to solve them quickly. It was the same with Lewis Structure mechanisms, once I understood how atoms with different levels of electronegativity formed different compounds I could quickly draw the mechanisms. What challenged me the most were problems that asked for the formula of a certain compound. I tended to rush and just use the shortcut instead of actually thinking about the number of valence electrons each element had and how this affected the formula.
Ex. of Understood Problems

Provide the Electron Configuration for iron, Fe.
Iron (Fe) 1s22s22p63s23p64s23d6
Ex. of Challenging Problems

Provide Ionic Compound formula for Carbon Dioxide.
CO2  (NOT C2O4)
     We constructed our own conductivity probes and tested various things around the room to see if they were conductive. After, we were given two different compounds, AB and CD. We then tested each to see which one would be conductive as an aqueous solution (dissolved in water) and find out why this happened.

 Our conductivity probe
Testing compound AB as an aqueous solution
     My group agreed that in water, whatever held compound AB disappeared, which allowed the electrons from the conductivity probe to pass through and form a complete circuit. In compound CD, water had little to no effect on the bond formed by CD and this bond meant that electrons weren't able to pass through the solution and form a complete circuit. We later learned that AB was an ionic compound and CS was a covalent one. 

Our model showing our visual observations and explanation AB's conductivity as an aqueous solution
     Another activity we did was observe the reaction that occurred when alkali metals with very low electronegativity levels were placed in water. 

As you can see, the experiment was a "blast"! 
     An interesting experiment we held was a mystery compound identification in which we had 4 unknown compounds and list of 4 compounds that each could be. To identify which was which, we had to mix each compound with another and observe the reaction. I really enjoyed how this activity integrated logic with chemistry concepts.

The petri dish where we conducted our tests
     An activity that deserves an honorable mention was one that we did near the beginning of the cycle. After learning that gummy bears were mostly made of carbon, we found that it would behave similarly to our bodies when put in a certain heated chemical compound. 

Needless to say, we got a lot of curious stares as we conducted this experiment in the courtyard. Poor gummy bear.
      Since the skills needed for this cycle involved a lot of drawing, I went through the practice problems provided in both the Google Doc and the video to prepare for the cycle test. On the test, I thought it was interesting that we were given an element X and element Y and had to guess what each could be. It made me think more than if I simply had to provide Lewis Structure mechanisms for any two elements. The chart at the end of the test had one problem that confused me. In this problem, we were given manganese and oxygen. As a transition metal, Manganese had a roman numeral to indicate its charge. I was surprised when I saw that it had a charge of 5+, since I thought that the charge would always refer to a low electronegativity. Next time, I'll check my answers at least once since I could have easily written the wrong subscript for any of the formula.  I'll also try to explain things more clearly for the short answer portion.
  • Are there any other differences between ionic and covalent compounds that we can test?
  • I'd like to learn a bit more about the s, p, d, f subshells.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The One Where We Compare Dog Sitters & Nuclei

Unit 1.A: Atomic Structure 

"Don't trust atoms, they make up everything."

Practice Problems:

  Problems that revolved around simple vertical and horizontal relationships were easier to understand in comparison to problems that compared a neutral atom and an ion in terms of ionization energy.
Ex. of Understood Problems

"Which element has a larger ionization energy, lithium or beryllium?" 
Beryllium (located on the right of lithium on the periodic table)

These problems concerned horizontal relationships and compared how many protons were included in a neutral atom of a certain element. Generally, elements with more protons had a larger ionization energy and a smaller atomic radius. This was because the more protons located in the nucleus of an atom (assuming the atoms being compared have the same amount of energy levels), the stronger the attraction between the charged particles.

"Which element has a larger atomic radius, oxygen or sulfur?"
Sulfur (located under oxygen on the periodic table)

These problems had to do with vertical relationships and compared elements that had different amounts of energy levels shielding its protons. With these problems, elements with less energy levels had a larger ionization energy and a smaller atomic radius. Because the distance between the charged particles (protons and electrons) was smaller in elements with less energy levels, these elements had larger ionization energy levels and a smaller atomic radius.
Ex. of Challenging Problems

"Do you predict the atomic radius of the sodium atom, Na or ion, Na+ to be larger? Explain."
Na (smaller ionization energy)

Problems like this one compared the ionization of an element's neutral atoms and ions. This was a little tricky for me because at first I made the common mistake of thinking that positively charged ions had added protons rather than less electrons. After learning that ions were created after only either adding or losing electrons, I was able to figure out that positive ions had a larger ionization energy and that negative ions had a weaker ionization energy in comparison to neutral atoms.

Day 2: We learned about the chemicals inside cigarettes, color-coded our periodic tables and discussed the structure of atoms.

Day 3: We conducted an experiment in which we were able to burn copper, sodium, lithium, potassium, and beryllium with Bunsen burners. After, we discovered that each element gave off a different color when burned.


Day 4: We came up with models that summarized what we learned from the flame test experiment from day 3. Next, we used magnets and cardboard to model how ionization energy can change.

     Just as with the practice problems, the quiz problems that involved horizontal and vertical relationships were the ones that I understood and had an easier time answering. What did confuse me was the questions that asked about atomic radius instead of ionization energy. Since I was expecting problems that were only about ionization energy, I almost did not realize this and nearly got several incorrect.

  • Where else can I apply Coulomb's Law?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Summer Worshop 2015: Q-Tip Bullets and Rollercoasters

   This year's summer workshop consisted of so many unique and educational experiences it'll be difficult to mention them all in one blog post. The first day, held at SHC, revolved around a challenge in which teams had to construct a simple mechanism that would fire a q-tip. The only materials available were candle lighters, film canisters, pens, and rubbing alcohol. Memorable moments of the day included an interesting design session complete with dinosaur sketches and the brutal destruction of several lighters.

  The second half of the workshop took place at the San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation. Instead of describing the all of the exhibits, I've collected pictures of my favorite activities.

Located in The Tech Silicon Valley Innovation Gallery, a special camera allowed us to mix and match different parts of our faces with strangers, resulting in hilarious combinations.
The Life Tech Gallery  included a fun wheelchair race simulation.
One of the most enjoyable activities, featured in The Tech Test Zone, was the coaster design station. You could make your own roller coaster and personally test it in less than 5 minutes. To view my roller coaster just click here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Discovery Workshop 2: Strengths

       During Discovery Workshop 2, I got to take a test that identified my top five personality themes.  After discovering these themes, I'll be able to develop them and turn them into strengths that I can use to find my natural talents. 

  1. Which of your Signature Themes describe you best? Why do you think this?

I think that "Learner" describes me the best because it is the theme that I believe is present in all aspects of my life. The whole process of learning is enjoyable and something I have fun doing. I find myself wanting to learn more about nearly everything, though I rarely voice the questions I have, which is something I'd like to work on. When I saw that "Learner" was in my top five, I wasn't too surprised.

  1. Which of your Signature Themes do you use most frequently? Please elaborate.

The Theme I use most frequently is "Discipline." I constantly organize my belongings and can't do my homework without prioritizing each assignment and designating a certain amount of time for each task. Color-coding is another habit of mine that I never realized was a trait that showed I was actually quite disciplined. I strive to bring order to things that are messy or unorganized, but until now, I've never seen this as "Discipline."

  1. Were you surprised by anything in the report? Explain why.
Originally, I was confused as to why I got "Discipline" in my top five, since I never considered myself as a particularly neat. But I realized that I did show several traits included in the description of "Discipline." I also was surprised that I had both "Includer" and "Harmony" in my top five. At first, I thought that both were essentially the same thing, until I read the descriptions. One describes being able to see the best in people and the other highlights an ability to solve conflict, and the fact that I exhibit both themes pleasantly surprised me.

  1. Which of your Signature Themes do you anticipate using most? Explain.

"Learner" and "Discipline" are the two themes that I anticipate using the most. I look forward to strengthening these two themes and turning them into strengths. This is because if I am able to do so, figuring out what I'd like to spend my life doing may just become at least a bit easier.