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November 2011

Check out the updates below to find out what students and staff have been up to in the science department!

The History of Amputation, the Mütter Museum, and Karabots Fellows

On Wednesday, November 30, twenty students visited the College of Physicians of Philadelphia to find out about the history of amputation in the United States from the Civil War to the present. The College of Physicians is the nation's oldest professional medical organization.

While at the College of Physicians, students looked at images from the past 150 years of medical efforts to preserve human lives through amputation and were able to hold examples of tools that would have been used to perform surgeries. Marcy Engleman, who leads a number of educational sessions for students at the College of Physicians, was able to share the findings of her research into this niche of medical history.

After the session, students toured the extensive collection of medical oddities at the College of Physician's Mütter Museum. The museum boasts a collection of anatomical and pathological specimens, wax models, and antique medical equipment.

Students Participate in Fellowship
Students at Boys' Latin also participate in a fellowship program sponsored by the College of Physicians. Each Wednesday, four Boys' Latin sophomores (Brendon Colteste, Jaleel Gregg, Raleigh Russell, and Tyler Wright) go to the College of Physicians each Wednesday after school to participate in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program.Students learn about medicine and are introduced to ideas and experiences that will prepare them for further education in the sciences. 

Physics Class in Motion

November was a busy month in physics! Students in Ms. DeChant's physics classes finished up their kinematics unit, and students complete two projects.

In the first project, they wrote letters to a judge to dispute a speeding ticket. They used the principles of position, displacement, velocity, and graphing to successfully make their cases against receiving a ticket.

In the second project, students applied their knowledge of acceleration to develop a car advertisement. In the meanwhile, students began their examination of Newton's Laws and forces. After some initial experimentation with carts, pull meters, tracks and weights, the seniors were able to derive the fundamental relationship between force, mass and acceleration.

Ms. DeChant and her students are determined to put physics in perspective and consider how forces of nature affect us and have implications in the real world.

Computer Scientist, Entreprenuer, Game Designer Speaks to Students

On Thursday, November 17, a group of students met computer scientist Alfie Hanssen as part of the Boys' Latin Science Speaker Series. Mr. Hanssen started Tembo Studio, a game company in 2010 making educational games about human impact on the environment.

His company's first iPhone game was submitted to the app store this month. Currently he works on Tembo part time and is a full-time self-employed iOS developer. Prior to founding Tembo, Mr. Hanssen managed a youth entrepreneurship and leadership training nonprofit organization that conducted work in Sub-saharan Africa and New York City.

Mr. Hanssen has a Master of Science in Engineering degree in computer graphics and gaming technology from the University of Pennsylvania and a undergraduate degree from Penn in Fine Art and graphic design. Mr. Hanssen grew up in Philadelphia. 

As part of the speaker series, Boys' Latin has started partnering with University City High School. A teacher from UCity High brought 20 students to join our students and Mr. Hanssen. A special thanks to UCity's Ms. Bess Pashak for bringing her students.

Take a minute to check out Ms. Hanssen's Pangea Safari app in the iTunes store. Tembo's Pangea Safari is a positive impact game about the fragility, resilience and interdependence of species. Players create and protect thriving ecosystems, striving to prevent extinction.

Juniors Participate in Penn Medicine Pipeline Program

Junior Hanif Waters-Middleton is one of seven Boys' Latin juniors who participates in a selective program through the University of Pennsylvania. Students head to class each afternoon away from school to participate in the program. Read Hanif's description of the experience below. Congratulations to the students for this outstanding honor!

The Penn Medicine Pipeline program consists of two components, which are education and experience. The goal of the program is to produce experienced, well-rounded students who are looking to make careers in the medical field. It offers a foundation by allowing us to take a community college course per semester, in order to earn college credit, while also giving us a job in one of the university's medical facilities, which includes the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Presbyterian Hospital, in a field that interests us.

The program lasts from your junior year through college if we chose to stay in Philadelphia. The pipeline program also certifies us as registered nurses’s in the summer of our senior year. The program provides $8000 dollars toward college expenses.

The following Boys' Latin students participate in the Penn Medicine Pipeline program: Ismael Kagone, Mark Pierson, Damen Bernhardt, Maurice Grannum-Gaskins, Amir Williams, Alhaji Tunkara, and Hanif Waters-Middleton.

Robotics Team Participates in First Scrimmage, Raises Funds

The Boys' Latin robotics team, Deus Ex Machina, participated in its first scrimmage in Phoenixville, PA. The team is building and programming a robot for the FIRST Tech Challenge.

As part of the challenge, the robot must operate in an autonomous mode, move a bowling ball, drive up and down ramps, pick up racquetballs, and move crates around within a defined course. The team's robot , B.R.O., is still a work in progress, and the team benefited from the support of other teams at the scrimmage. Students and coaches from Phoenixville High School were especially helpful and provided guidance for our new team.

Also, the robotics team concluded a fundraiser right before the Thanksgiving break. Students on the team had been collecting change and cash in a competition that pitted classes against one another. The freshmen class won the competition and was treated to a movie day and popcorn.


Students Gather Background Research for Independent Science Investigations

For the past month, students in the Introduction to Biology and Chemistry classes have been learning to conduct background research, a skill that is important in any academic subject. Students have been looking at books, periodicals, and websites to find information about a science topic that interests them. With their newfound understanding--about topics ranging from plasma to crickets and from the physics of basketball to a myth about staying dry while running in the rain--students will begin to create an experiment and collect data.

Before experimenting, however, students are trying to learn about their topics and then will submit an essay and bibliography that address scientific principals related to their experiment. The background research phase is part of a long-term project called an independent science investigation. Once complete, students will share the findings of their experiments at the second-annual Science Symposium, on Wednesday, March 14.

Students may also choose to share their experimental findings at the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Region 1C fair in February and the Carver Science Fair at Temple University in March.

Students Experiment with Law of Conservation of Mass

Before learning about the well-tested law of conservation of mass, students conducted experiments to compare masses before and after a chemical reaction.