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An AAE Grant Enhanced My Physical Science Class
posted by: Tamia | February 27, 2020, 02:34 PM   

This week we have a guest blog from one of our grant winners, Darwin Daugaard. Each spring, AAEF gives away thousands of dollars to teachers across the country to help implement innovative classroom programs or to help them pursue their professional development. Read what Mr. Daugaard did with his funds below.


My grant was written in support of research I did at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City. I studied the development of electrochemical cells that contained bacteria that would consume refuse such as rotten food items like tomatoes in the presence of methane. The bacteria go through an oxidation-reduction reaction that generates electricity. This research was piggy backed on research done the year before by a different bacterium breaking down co-waste material into methane. Both processes intrigued me because they each produced energy which is useful and viable in a restricted environment. Third world countries, future space travel, and areas of the earth that are not on the grid could potentially benefit from this research.


I was able to add MudWatts to my curriculum of study in my physical science classes to show how energy can be converted from store bonds to electricity. The MudWatt setup is a perfect replica of the equipment I used in my lab. A MudWatt is a container that has carbon electrodes that are connected to wires. Mud is sandwiched between them and the wires are connected to a small circuit that has an LED that lights up with electron flow in the circuit. Studying the growth of colonies with our cell phones and an app fascinated my students and made them excited to get started. We also studied electricity dealing with series and parallel connections in circuits. My students were even more excited when the package arrived. Being able to work in small groups gave them a very hands-on experience. They got to play with a dirty grimy environment and not be reminded not to get dirty. It felt like we were breaking rules, so that added to my students’ enthusiasm.


The students were also allowed to change and revise their set-ups to optimize their cell to get more electric power. I have since shared my experiences with instructors at our state conference, and I plan on doing this activity again this semester and in the years to come. The equipment I purchased with the grant has helped my students meet several of the NGSS standards in the science and engineering areas. Allowing and encouraging students to change the set-ups really gave them ownership of the experiment and their learning experience. This learning takes place in such an excited realm that the students don’t realize they are learning.


The grant submission process was much easier than I expected and best of all, I convinced the company I ordered the materials from to lower their price so I could get more for the money.


The next deadline for our program is THIS SUNDAY! Don’t miss out on this valuable opportunity. Apply today!


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