Building Models

Mystery Tubes

Today students learned that scientists often use models to learn about a natural or unknown system. A scientific model does not just look like the thing being studied; instead, it behaves like the thing being studied. A good scientific model allows us to test, use, or otherwise manipulate an artificial system in order to learn something about the real system. For our activity, students had to make observations about what was happening in a sealed PVC ‘mystery tube’ without being able to see inside. Once they made their observations of how the real tube behaves, they worked in groups to build their own working models of the mystery tube. This lesson was exciting, challenging and great fun to complete.

Tubos misteriosos

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Hoy los estudiantes aprendieron que los científicos generalmente utilizan modelos para aprender sobre los sistemas naturales o desconocidos. Un modelo científico no sólo se parece físicamente a lo que estamos estudiando, sino que también se comporta cómo lo que estamos estudiando. Un buen modelo científico nos permite probar, usar o manipular un sistema artificial para poder aprender algo sobre el sistema real. En la actividad, los estudiantes tuvieron que hacer observaciones sobre qué es lo que pasa dentro de un tubo de PVC sellado (el tubo misterioso). Una vez que hicieron sus observaciones sobre cómo el tubo se comporta realmente, trabajaron en equipos para construir sus propios modelos de tubo misterioso. Esta clase fue un gran desafío y muy divertida de realizar.

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Author

Dr. Maureen Griffin

Maureen earned a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. While at Penn, she developed a novel micro-mechanical technique called micropipette peeling to investigate the role of muscle cell adhesion in normal and diseased skeletal muscle cells. After graduating, Maureen worked full time as a post-doctoral researcher and then a staff scientist a SelectX Pharmaceuticals. She joined the teaching staff in 2008 and was excited to be made an executive staff member in 2009. Maureen also continued to consult part time for SelectX until her daughter's birth in 2009; now she is focused on Science from Scientists and, of course, her children. Maureen uses her spare time to read, blog, cook, and renovate her house.

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