ssp 2012
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Today was the first day of the Shodor Scholars Program (SSP). Dr. Panoff, the instructor, started by having the students introduce themselves. Then, using the students names, He discussed the concept of patterns by having the group think about the patterns in names that they heard. Afterwards, the group looked at some spaghetti sauce jars and came up with different ways the button on the lid could have popped up such as: the jar had been opened, somebody heated it up, the lid was defective, etc. The spaghetti sauce jar led to a critical scientific discussion about the differences between something being necessary and being sufficient. For example, it is sufficient for the button on the lid of a new jar of spaghetti sauce to be up to know that it is not good for eating, whereas it is necessary AND sufficient for the contents of the jar to look like spaghetti sauce. Next, the students tried searching for the mass of the earth online. It was surprising to see all of the different mass estimates available on the web! Dr. Panoff explained the importance of comparison in research, as different researchers from different locations may use differing measurements in their experiments. Comparing these measurements, the group found that all of their answers were different. The students also searched for the boiling point of radium and discovered the same thing. Once again, the results were different for each student. The students had a discussion about verification and validation, and how one's expectations can change one's observations and reflection of an experiment.

During break, the students began working on their next exercise. The group was provided with a plethora of different eggs, some of which had a liquid center, while others had a solid center. They tested out different attributes of the eggs; if they were able to spin on their side, spin on their end, if they made a noise when shook, and if they stopped after spinning. This process helped everyone to determine if they had a solid or liquid center. When the first egg was cracked open, many people expected for it to be a yolk, when it was actually milk! The next egg was hard-boiled. In the afternoon, the students began looking at different computer-based models beginning with an ideal gas model. By changing the amount of pressure applied to a container, the model showed how the shape and volume of the container changes, as well as the change in the density of the particles inside the container. They also added more particles to se how it affected the volume. After that, the students looked at a electron model. The electrons were repulsed by the thought of touching the walls, and touching each other. So, by changing the repulsion level, and the number of electrons, the group could see what different shapes the electrons made based on their preset interactions with the world around them.