3 Girls Won The Google Science Fair With A Bacteria-Based Plan To Solve The Food Crisis

Three young girls won the Google science fair on Sept. 22 with their innovative way to feed the world: treat plants with bacteria to help farmers grow more food, faster — without genetic modification.

"By the year 2050 we actually need 50 percent more food just to feed everyone," Emer Hickey, one of the three winners, told Scientific American.

Hickey worked with her classmates Ciara Judge and Sophie Healy on their project. The three teenage girls, who live in Ireland, were simultaneously learning about plants and world hunger. Their project “Combating the global food crisis: Diazotroph Bacteria As a Cereal Crop Growth Promoter" aims to tackle issues of world hunger by exploiting a curious relationship they found between bacteria and certain plants.

Beneficial Bacteria

After 11 months of hard work and dedication, the three teen microbiologists discovered that they could make crops yield more food and shorten the time it takes a plant to sprout from a seed — a process called germination. They shorten this time by infecting the crops with a bit of bacteria that’s been known to be advantageous to other crop plants.

Their results have huge implications for increasing agricultural productivity and easing world hunger.

The key to their success is a type of bacteria called rhizobia, which lives inside nodules, or the little nubs you sometimes see on plant roots. While we usually think of bacteria as dangerous, these are actually helpful to the plants. By converting nitrogen from the air into helpful compounds like ammonia, the bacteria aid plant growth. (Read more)

Source.

5 days ago 400 notes

Evil Ladybug recommended that we watch this amazing multi-camera 360° panoramic timelapse of the stars by Vincent Brady. Check out this video and more info about the project here.

4 weeks ago 124 notes

Incredible Chemical Reaction GIFs Explained

1) Disintegration (Mercury Reacts with Aluminum)

When aluminum rusts, it creates a protective oxide layer that prevents the aluminum atoms underneath from further rusting. That is, until mercury is applied. Mercury prevents an oxide layer from forming, making the rust reaction continue uncontrollably. The process isn’t as fast as what’s depicted in the GIF though; it actually took two hours to rust through the aluminum beam above. What isn’t depicted in the GIF is the sluffed off rust that formed a pile at the base of the aluminum beam as the reaction progressed.

2) Pharaoh’s Serpent (Mercury (II) Thiocyanate Reacts with Oxygen)

The reaction depicted above, nicknamed the “Pharoah’s Serpent,” actually use to be a common classroom demonstration. It also use to be sold in stores as fireworks until people realized it’s actually fairly toxic. As its name hints, it contains very poisonous mercury. Mercury (II) thiocyanate exists as a white solid that when heated, expands to become a brown solid due to its decomposition to carbon nitride. Sulfur dioxide and mercury (II) sulfide are also produced. Nowadays, if you want a similar effect but don’t want to risk touching mercury, you can try making a “Black Snake” by heating a mixture of sugar and baking soda in a beaker.

(Read more)

1 month ago 237 notes

How To Teach Math With LEGOs

by Katie Lepi of Edudemic

Using Legos in the classroom is not a new concept at all. There are so many different classroom applications for the popular brightly colored bricks, and despite the myriad of uses, the go-to task for Legos is most often math. The handy little nubs sitting atop the bricks offer a chance to teach things like area and perimeter, the different colors lend themselves well to fractions. 

The handy infographic below takes a look at different ways to use fractions to teach math. The visual aspect is pretty handy – you can clearly see how your students will be able to group and divide the blocks to grasp the concepts in a fun way. Do you have other math-specific ways you’ve employed Legos in the classroom?  Share your awesome ideas with the Edudemic community by leaving a comment below, mentioning @Edudemic on Twitter or leaving your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Using Legos To Teach Math

  • Fractions: Using bricks of the same size but different color, have the students count out the denominator (total bricks) and the numerator representative of each color. You can employ any size bricks for this task.
  • Area and Perimeter: Using bricks of any color, construct a rectangle or square. The students can use the nubs on top of the bricks to calculate the area and the perimeter of each shape they create.
  • Multiplication: Using bricks of various sizes (ie 4 nubs on top, 8 nubs on top), students can calculate how many total nubs there are based on the number of same-sized bricks. Thus, a group of 4 ‘size 4′ bricks would yield 16 nubs)
  • Mean, Median, Mode, and Range: Using groups of different sized bricks (ie, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1) and totaling the nubs on each group, students can calculate the mean, median, mode, and range.
  • Place Value: Using a bullseye visual or other type of visual (like this one), place different ‘sized’ bricks in each category, and the students can use that information to write out the number indicated. This could make for fun group work in class.
1 month ago 258 notes

Recycled Hard Drive Instrument - Electric Waste Orchestra

Creating unconventional musical instruments from outdated computer parts and other e-waste

In the hubbub of Moogfest, we serendipitously ran into a guy wearing purple 3D-printed eyeglasses and holding something that looked like a keytar. Upon closer inspection, and with the house lights turned up, it turned out to be a musical instrument made from outdated computer parts. Colten Jackson wasn’t a speaker at the festival, but a passionate musician who made the trek to Asheville from Champaign, IL, to spread the word about his educational side project, Electric Waste Orchestra. Jackson reuses e-waste to make music in unconventional ways—for example, in this video he transformed six hard-drives and a number pad into a musical instrument (with help from Arduino hardware and Pure Data software) and jams along with a modular synthesizer. (Read more)

2 months ago 78 notes