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Project iLASER is an endeavor to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry, supported by a generous grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (grant no. CHE 1118663).

Don't miss any of the content of this blog. Follow the links in the
BLOG ARCHIVE to read previous posts.

It is probably best to read the posts in chronological order, beginning with the May 2011 entry.

Also, click on the images found herein to see them in full size.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Breathing Room in Las Cruces

From Las Cruces, NM, at the nexus of Mexico, Texas and New Mexico (Click to enlarge image).
This past weekend provided a chance to catch my breath and reverse the (figurative) hypoxia I've been experiencing over the course of the first week of the Project iLASER journey.  I was able to do laundry, clean some conducting glass electrodes used to build dye-sensitized solar cells with the kiddos, make some repairs to some of the materials that got banged around on some of the back roads of Arizona and get organized for the four events this week (two here in Las Cruces and two in El Paso, TX).  Obviously I'm also now getting a chance to churn out a few paragraphs to give accounts of the events in Yuma, AZ and Nogales, AZ and some general glimpses into life on the road with Project iLASER.

Assorted images from the road

The desk of a Holiday Inn Express hotel room suffices as a laboratory bench.

A sunny window sill also works well to test a setup.

Note the different volumes of gases in the syringes.  Chemistry quiz question: Based solely on comparing the two volumes, which syringe contains hydrogen gas?

Fun times at the Carpe Diem Academy in Yuma, AZ - Monday September 19, 2011

The good folks a the Carpe Diem Academy were very enthusiastic about the Project iLASER activities.  Many thanks to Principal Sciarretta and all the teachers and staff for accommodating us so very well!  The students were very attentive and had a great deal of interest in the prospect of powering the planet with sunlight.  They asked a lot of great questions, gave wonderful answers when posed with questions and wanted to know why we aren't already using sunlight in greater abundance to supply our energy needs.  In addition to the selection of photos from Yuma below, there are more in an online album HERE.

Yep, ol' Honest Abe there on the wall would be very proud of these solar scientists in Yuma!

Oh yeah...these guys were surely fired up!
Hey!  Look what we built! Let's go OUTside and test it.

Success!  That solar cell is converting sunlight into electricity.

A great event at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Cruz County
Nogales, AZ - Thursday September 22, 2011

Nogales, AZ is a very quaint town right on the border.  Scenes of "the fence" are stark and somber.  I'm really doing my best to keep this blog apolitical and won't offer commentary about my feelings about "the fence".  I'll let the photos speak for me.  Hopefully you can hear the message...

The fence is an obvious feature in Nogales, following the curves of the hillsides in this photo.

Nogales, AZ (~21,000 pop. - 2010 census) adjoins Nogales, Sonora, Mexico (~212,000 pop. - 2010 census).

This is worth at least 1,000 words...

Thursday the 22nd of September was an awesome day.  I was very impressed with the crew at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Cruz County in Nogales, AZ.  Vicki Barden, Roger Remlinger, J.P. Gonzalez and all the staff and volunteers at the Club do a great job providing the children with an excellent environment to learn and grow.  

The entrance to the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Cruz County.
The banner informs Club members and their parents/guardians of the day's event.

The Club has a group of high school students known as Very Important Peers (VIPs) who were awesome assistants during the Project iLASER event.  The photos below are a selection from a larger number found in the album HERE.

Club staff and VIPs (in red vests) helped set up and carry out the Project iLASER event.

That's Andrea (left) and Victoria (right) having a great time!  Children are naturals when it comes to getting their hands on cool devices and learning to use them. Who thought learning to use a multimeter could be so fun?  Victoria already sees herself becoming a prosecutor.  With her natural talent and high curiosity, in addition to the law, I have a feeling she also has some advanced science in her future too --- perhaps a patent attorney? :)

What's the voltage?  More importantly: When do we dig into those blackberries?

Now THAT is a group eager to build dye-sensitized solar cells!

They successfully coverted Nogales sunlight into electricty!

Staff member J.P. Gonzalez and these two young ladies stayed overtime and built more cells using indoor lighting.  The one on the right is Victoria from above.  She simply couldn't get enough of the hands-on science explorations!

Illuminating the solar cell with the small flashlight more than doubled the voltage output.
As is very easily seen from the photos above, there was no shortage of enthusiasm for getting their hands on the solar activities.  Some stayed until after the sun was too low in the sky and used indoor lighting with great success.  Many lessons were learned and seeds were planted into the imaginations of the group in Nogales.  Thanks to all of them for showing me a great time!

1 comment:

  1. This was a very fun learning experience. The VIPs and the children enjoyed it very much! Thanks for demonstrating to us how to do these fun experiments!