Schablik J, Seifried J, Figueroa M. A biology module for the integrative STEM classroom: nucleotide base colorimetric detection using silver nanoparticles. Poster presented at the 2014 National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) Annual Conference; November 2014. Cleveland, OH.


Hydrophobic materials are found in modern day commercial products, including windshield coatings, water repellant clothing and umbrella coatings, all of which display the biological property of hydrophobicity. The purpose of this summer research project was to design a water droplet maze for an inquiry based lesson to introduce the concept of hydrophilic, hydrophobic, and super hydrophobic interactions on specially made surfaces. The lesson was designed so that a biology teacher could explain why molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials, which is a specific standard of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In our research, we optimized a procedure so teachers can make three different surfaces and then pose questions to students to see if they can use observational skills to distinguish between different surfaces. In the lesson plan, students measure the contact angle of the water droplet to the surface in order to identify the surface. A contact angle measurement is a wellestablished scientific technique to measure the hydrophobicity of the surface. The lesson is flexible enough for students to use either a protractor or phone application to measure the contact angle. If a water droplet has an angle greater than 90° then it is hydrophobic. If the angle measures greater than 150° then it is super hydrophobic. Through observation and play, students will learn hands-on about how a self-assembled monolayer can alter surface interactions. The activity was demonstrated in a high school science class, and in order to measure student understanding and the effectiveness of the lesson a pre- and post-survey were administered.

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