Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Individual Project Deliverables: Second Day

The Fastest Ball Challenge

In today's activity, we used various materials and objects such as a slope, track and metal ball to solve two challenges. The first challenge was to determine and record a optimal level of elevation (angle θ) for the slope that the ball was rolling off of so that the ball would take the shortest time to travel a fixed distance (tfinal - tinitial).

The second challenge was about the same, just that this time, the aim was not to find out a optimum angle, but rather to get the ball across a one metre distance in a speculated time, such as one second.

From the activity, I learned that when objects fall diagonally, they have vertical and horizontal velocity. Therefore, in order for the ball to have a good amount of speed, there has to be a compromise of downward and horizontal velocity. If the slope's angle is too steep, the ball will bounce on the track, wasting momentum and energy on the sound produced by the bounce. If the slope's angle is too gentle, the ball will have less potential energy. Therefore, our job was to find out the best angle for the job. After some trials, we decided to use the photogates instead of using the timer as our results were inconsistent. Actually, we found out the fastest speed that the ball can accelerate to, but we failed to replicate the set-up. From today's activity, I learnt that many a time, projects fail not because of the group member's ability to do work, but rather from a breakdown of teamwork. Many other groups failed due to this. The skills that I learnt today were really useful. Not only did it help me to learn more about vectors, I also realised that whenever a problem arises, we have to learn to look at it from different perspectives and angles. With that, a solution can be derived really quickly.

Extraction of Caffeine from Tea Bags

This project was held in the afternoon. After a rather filling lunch, we proceeded back to the SPMS (School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences) Chem Labs. The TAs were very helpful and without their guidance, I don't think we would ever have finished the activity. On top of what we learnt many new ways to filter mixtures, including Büchner Filtration and Rotary Evaporation, or RotoVap for short. Our professor, Dr. Alessandra Bonanni, welcomed us warmly. Before the project started, we did a risk assessment of the lab so that we knew how to keep ourselves safe while having fun. The equipment in the lab, especially the Rotary Evaporator, was one of the coolest parts of the lab. I learnt about new compounds, aqueous or organic and also, safer lab practices. I feel that these skills and knowledge can help me set a better base foundation for next year’s Chemistry classes. These skills might even save a life when someone gets attacked by acid.

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