Relating Science Education to Everyday Life
As the K¹² Senior Science Content Specialist, one of my jobs is to take somewhat abstract knowledge and bring it down to earth to show how science helps people. A recent visit to the dentist reminded me just how useful science can be!
First, let me back up. In our K¹² Science curriculum, we teach students that there are four states of matter, three of which are around us all the time. Solids, liquids, and gases make up our world—just think of ice, liquid water, and the water vapor that is in the air around us. There is a fourth state of matter called plasma. It consists of atoms whose electrons have been stripped away. Plasma consists of a sea of atomic nuclei in an ocean of electrons. Kind of an esoteric concept, isn’t it? It can be, and for many students it’s just an annoying word on a quiz. But an article I came across recently showed that scientists have come up with a brilliant way to use jets of plasma in place of a drill to remove tooth decay.
Plasma seems so “out there,” yet its applications have and will change the way we live. It’s interesting how studying the basics of the natural world can lead to such futuristic delights. This is another great reason for studying the sciences.
Today’s Science Question
Speaking of teeth, does this critter, called the Blue Linckia, have teeth?
Answer next week!
Answer to the previous Science Question
We asked, “Why does the Asian carp have such a big, round mouth and such low-set eyes?
Well, I haven’t seen this fish in its natural habitat, but lets start with the assumption that what a living thing looks like confers upon it some kind of advantage for living. My hypothesis is that this fish is a bottom feeder. It may even nearly stand on its head to feed. The big round mouth is an advantage in scraping and pulling food off of the bottom of a river or lake. The eyes would get in the way if they were front-and-center. Well, a hypothesis is an educated guess. So now it’s time to get out the scuba gear and see how the carp feeds in the Mississippi River.