The Catalysts program crosses disciplines, with activities that elements of biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering.
Forensic science is the study of objects that relate to crime. Forensic scientists observe, classify, compare, calculate, measure, predict and interpret data to solve crimes. During this activity, the students learn how to dust for fingerprints, how to analyze a powder using forensic chemistry, and how to determine the height of a suspect based on a foot print. They then apply their new skills to a set of clues to solve a mystery.
Traits of Genetic Inheritance
Can you roll your tongue? Do you have freckles or dimples? These are examples of traits that are inherited from parents. In this activity, students learn about the basics of genetics, which is a branch of biology that studies heredity and variation in organisms. They then create a “genetic bracelet” with colored beads to indicate expression of the dominant or recessive version of one of their own inherited traits.
Materials science is an interdisciplinary field consisting of chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, and engineering, which examines the relationship between the microscopic structure of materials and their macroscopic properties. Solid-state chemistry is the study of the synthesis, structure, and properties of solid-phase materials, typically of non-molecular solids. In this activity, students studied 2 common crystalline forms of carbon, graphite and diamond, using the computer program, PowderCell.
NASA developed ferrofluids–magnetic materials that behave like liquids, flowing and filling up spaces–to assist astronauts in moving things in antigravity environments. Ferrofluids can be found in computer hard drives, MRI machines, and in displays in science and art museums. Ferrofluids are made by mixing small particles of magnetic material in oil; this dispersal of magnetic material within the fluid allows it to be manipulated and moved with a magnet.