Friday, December 14, 2012

3rd Hour Chemistry I Smarty Pants Class

During the semester, Chemistry I classes compete with one another for smarty pants points.  If they score the highest average on a quiz or test, or perform well in lab, or complete a challenge that I give them, they earn a smarty pants.  The class with the most smarty pants by the end of the semester wins a party and a perfect score on their semester review packet even if they don't do any of it!  This year's winner was third hour.

3rd hour - 9 smarty pants
6th hour - 2 smarty pants
7th hour - 2 smarty pants
8th hour - 3 smarty pants

3rd hour students Lea DeBoer and Kaitlin Block made an oreo cookie tower and snowman sculpture for a smarty pants challenge while 8th hour student Collin Sherer also made an oreo tower sculpture.

7th hour won a smarty pants for the best density column (Christen Swan).

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Energy Of Foods Lab

Kaitlin Block and Brianna Blair burn a cheeto.
Kaleb Smith and John Vice team up in lab.
Chemistry I students looked at how much energy a glucose molecule (represented by a marshmallow) and a linoleic acid molecule (represented by a fatty chip and cheeto) take to both form and burn.  Students used WebMO, a virtual molecular chemistry program phs_block_3 password:students, to draw both molecules and discover that it takes glucose more energy to form than the fat linoleic acid due to the more complex carbon-oxygen bonds that it possesses.  In the wet lab, students then burned these foods to discover that more energy is released by fats than sugars.  Below are some pictures of the calorimeter devices the students used to measure the heat released.

collecting data in a calorimeter can.....

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



Students Ryan and Lucas in Chemistry II are analyzing common household products to predict and test them for pH litmus paper readings, labelling them as an acid or base.

Not only do soda pops have acid in them, many have caffeine which can prevent your bones from absorbing calcium just as the phosphoric acid in caramel-colored pops do.  They also contain sugars which can harm your teeth.

Americans win Nobel Prize in chemistry for revealing gateway to cells


By Ben Brumfield, CNN

updated 9:18 AM EDT, Wed October 10, 2012

Research by Robert J. Lefkowitz, left, and Brian K. Kobilka has increased understanding of how cells sense chemicals.

 (CNN) -- Two American scientists won the Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for their work revealing protein receptors that tell cells what is going on in and around the human body. Their achievements have allowed drug makers to develop medication with fewer side effects.

Research spanning four decades by Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka on "G-protein-coupled receptors" has increased understanding of how cells sense chemicals in the bloodstream and external stimuli like light, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awarded the prize.

Lefkowitz began the research by tracking adrenalin receptors. The Nobel Prize announcement apparently set off some of the excitement hormone in his own body.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Suiting up for Chemistry Lab!

Kaleb, Tyler, Devon, and Alejandro help each other out getting ready for their Physical and Chemical Properties Lab.  Students saw many chemical reactions such as:
magnesium ribbon burning and reacting with hydrochloric acid
precipitates forming
sulfur floating around in water
gases being produced

various precipitates
magnesium ribbon burning
sulfur geyser

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Methylene Blue and Huntington's Disease

Common Lab Dye Found to Interrupt Formation of Huntington's Disease Proteins

Scientific American Article
A small molecule agent like methylene blue that has been grandfathered into approved use as a diagnostic tool in humans can be studied further as possible treatment for the neurodegenerative illness.  A compound already sitting on the shelves of biomedical laboratories and emergency room supply closets seems to interrupt the formation of neurodegenerative protein clumps found in Huntington’s disease, according to a preliminary animal study published August 7 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

This versatile agent, called methylene blue, gets a mention in medical literature as early as 1897 and was used to treat, at one time or another, ailments ranging from malaria to cyanide poisoning. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has never formally approved it as a therapy for any illnesses. But that fact hasn’t stopped biomedical researchers from tinkering with the agent’s apparent ability to improve cognitive function. And although the new paper out today relies on a Huntington’s disease model in flies and mice, scientists are hopeful. "Because of existing knowledge of methylene blue and the fact that it’s not harmful to humans, I would hope that progress toward clinical trials could go relatively quickly," says Leslie Thompson, a neurobiologist at University of California–Irvine and lead author on the new study.

Huntington’s disease occurs when the C-A-G sequence of DNA base pairs repeat too often on the HTT gene, resulting in an abnormally long version of the huntingtin protein, that therefore folds incorrectly and forms clumps in the brain. The illness usually begins to affect people in their 30s and 40s, causing movement problems and early death. No drug is currently available to stop the disease from progressing.

methylene blue structure

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Apollo Student-Leader Conference

Recently four Paris Cooperative High School freshmen attended the 2012 Apollo Conference for student-athlete leaders in Allerton Park 4H campgrounds in Monticello.  Kaitlin Block, Kristian Kelly, Jake Meister, and Kaitlin Neibarger represented PCHS along with student leaders from Effingham, Salem, and Mt. Zion high schools.  Guest speaker Lori Kerans, NCAA women’s basketball coach from Millikan University inspired those present to seek direction, appreciate their luck in life, take one day at a time, and soar like eagles.  Team building and leadership activities including multiple challenge courses were enjoyed at the overnight event.
Kaitlin Neibarger, Kaitlin Block, Jake Meister, and Kristian Kelly.

Apollo Student-Leaders on the team building course...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Foods and Chemistry Together!

Lea deBoer and McKinley Sheehy taste results....
Last week Mrs. Block’s Advanced Chemistry/Chemistry Club students joined Mrs. Pittenger’s Nutrition and Culinary Arts I Classes for a tasty chemical reaction treat. 

Kevin Nguyen and Kalen Pennington use duct tape to seal their baggies.Duct tape has many uses.
This crossover lab related the unit of thermochemistry to the making of homemade ice cream using ice and rock salt to freeze the ice cream ingredients. A chemistry student was paired with a foods student to complete the lab experience.
Cameron Gray  (who lost his nose) and Madison Gates measure the sugar and vanilla for their ice cream.

Ice has to absorb energy (an endothermic reaction) in order to melt, changing the phase of water from a solid to a liquid.
Steven Baty and Bryar Rardin make learning fun!

When you use ice to cool the ingredients for ice cream, the energy is absorbed from the ingredients and from the outside environment.

John Marrs and Aubrie Lamb make ice cream.

When you add salt to the ice, it lowers the freezing point of the ice, so even more energy has to be absorbed from the environment in order for the ice to melt. This makes the ice colder than it was before, which is how your ice cream freezes.

Francesca Rios and Adrienne Haupt feel the heat energy moving out of the ingredients.

Students learned about the many health benefits of ice cream in the diet. For example, it contains the bone strengthening mineral calcium. 

McKinley Sheehy, Alicia Robertson, Haley Johnson, and Karissa Gobin measure out the ingredients.

It also provides vitamin D, vitamin A, and protein.  So remember, ice cream can be part of a healthful diet as long as it is eaten in moderation. 

Lea deBoer and Brie Tyler get ice for the reaction.

Mrs. Block and Mrs. Pittenger.....

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Karsyn and Mrs. Block light methane bubbles!

Karsyn, Kacie, and Lydia are assisted by Chem Club member Leslie Rush.

Mr. Mike Brouwer’s 7th grade Science class from Mayo Junior High recently visited Mrs. Brett Block’s PCHS Chemistry Lab for a lesson in energy and how it affects electrons in an atom.  The PCHS Chemistry Club were on hand to assist in a Flame Test Lab where wood splints soaked in various chemical solutions were burned to identify them based on their signature colors – blues, reds, oranges, and pinks.  They also viewed light energy given off by different gases trapped in a tube as electricity was sent through to excite the electrons.  Finally, Mrs. Block gave a lesson on the methane gas used in the lab burners by creating methane gas bubbles which she ignited while the students held them in their hand.  Chemistry Club is a PCHS organization designed to be champions of science.  They are available to visit local schools or arrange a visit at the PCHS Chemistry Lab. 

Jenna, Chris, and Robert work with Chem Club students Geoffrey Swinford and Matt Wells...
Chem Clubbers Austin Gahimer and Damon Daugherty discuss important scientific experiments performed on wasps while Daniel lights a wood splint....
Geoffrey Swinford helps Jenna....
Triston and Mrs. Block....
Faith is not afraid....
Salem complained after this one - said his knuckle hairs got singed!  (that means superficially burned)
electricity through the spectrum tubes show a signature color for that gas...

Mayo students view white light through the spectroscopes to see the wavelengths...

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Varsity Boys Baseball trounced Arcola as the Spirit Club and Buddy Lee cheer them on....
Hunter, Shane, and Robert are tough enough....

Leslie, Meredith, Mary-Hunter, and JC enjoy sunflower seeds with Buddy Lee...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chem Club Crosses Over Curricula

Observations of how fabric absorbs dye....

Angie Propst and Brett Block presented their students with a team-taught lesson crossing over their subject areas of Clothing and Chemistry to identify the fiber content of various types of fabric.  Mrs. Propst, the creator of the lesson, wanted to further her Clothing class’s existing investigation of fiber characteristics by adding a science inquiry component.  Some of the fibers used were natural and others synthetic.  Students used the observable absorbency rate in dye and burn characteristics, together with an elimination chart, to determine each fabric’s fiber content.  Students also observed how the burning is affected by treatment with a flame retardant made by Chemistry Club students in lab using boric acid and borax detergent.  Mixing this solution had to be done carefully due to the solubility of the boric acid.  Aspects of solubility and supersaturated solutions were investigated by the Chemistry Club students. This lesson promoted student to student learning as Chemistry and Clothing students were paired together.  The importance of lab safety and the use of a controlled experiment were modeled by the Chemistry students. Clothing students shared the base knowledge used for deductive reasoning with the characteristics of synthetic fibers verses natural fibers and characteristics of weaves verses knits.  Due to the success of this lab, it will be incorporated into both the Advanced Chemistry and Clothing curricula.
Mrs. Block and Mrs. Propst represent in their lab coats....
Chandler and Logan dye their fabric and check for weaving patterns....
Katie and Niam are investigators of the weave....

Erin and Becca observe the different fabrics...

Mrs. Propst explains the beading of burnt fabrics to Francesca and Darcie....

Nicole observes how differerent fabrics burn....
Burn Baby Burn!
Rachel and Kalen - where are your goggles?
Getting ready for the lab.......
Fabric retrieval from the dye....
Data collection is crucial.....