Day 10: Toxic Fumes

Our first day with “chosen and drafted” advisements. See, the way it normally works is students are randomly assigned an advisement teacher over the summer. We did it differently by spending more time getting to know each other, by rotating each advisement teacher through groups of around ten to fifteen and by then asking students to identify who they want to work with. Teachers did something similar so we could then match everybody.

I enjoyed my time this morning with my new advisement. We reviewed Project Foundry, discussed daily reflections, project proposal, and calendar use. They each provided status updates on their Hackathon presentations and science videos and made plans and scheduled their days. It was extremely useful time … I look forward to beginning most days with my group.

During the morning and before lunch I found myself assembling chemicals, preparing solutions, and pulling lab equipment for teams that needed such help for their science videos.

Lunch was a particularly intense PLC that included our Principal and some tough messages. It was a healthy and challenging conversation – as are most of our lunches.

(Many of us have yet to take a period off – this must change as it’s too much too fast. It’s pedal to the metal all day long!)

One group was using hydrochloric acid to denature albumin in egg whites. They had already gathered their observations but were interested in the concept of dilution and acid-base neutralization. We were able to dilute and react – their questions drove the session… amazing!

Another group was interested in making a Storm Glass. Fortunately for them we had the chemicals handy and were able to get it prepared. 


In addition to the science we discussed, I was able to drive home the importance of technical reading – or reading in general – as one of the students simply passed me his laptop when we were set to begin. At no point did he think he should read and outline a procedure. Part of the experiment failed because of lazy reading, which I think he realized at some point. We probably discussed reading strategies and annotation more than the science!

Another group was making a video that communicated various differences and similarities between solids, liquids, and gases. To that end, they were frustrated that most of the gases they could think of were colorless and they wondered why. One of the students said something about colorless gases “seeming to belong” in the atmosphere and that colorful gases were toxic and maybe poisonous. Excellent thought!

We reacted some copper with nitric acid to evolve nitrogen dioxide gas (nasty!) in the fume hood.


It was an excellent lesson in lab safety because the fume hood wasn’t working. A slight evacuation of the back lab ensued…


We continue to work hard on some of our logistical issues and on supporting the on-task workers and challenging the students who seem to be allergic to work and deep intellectual thought. For this reason we are working on a protocol to enact at the end of the term that moves some students around, possibly out of the program, but also into electives to chop some of the time they spend in the Mosaic environment. Some students are struggling with too much freedom.

#advisementmorning #LawandOrderSVU #MakerSpaceClosed #ShortTimers