Emulsion activities bring learning together

After discussing the soybean’s nitrogen-fixing ability and its role in the nitrogen cycle, Amy McCormick of Columbiana High School demonstrated another use for soybeans. She used the Soybeans are Everywhere lessons to incorporate surface tension, surfactants, emulsification, and the use of soy lecithin into her environmental science class’s biogeochemical cycles unit.

McCormick said, “Students in all my classes were intrigued by the emulsion because most of them had no idea that materials existed that allowed these substances to combine. They enjoyed observing and stirring it for several days. After completing the activities in Soybeans are Everywhere, we used the Soy Ink activity so the students could make an emulsion and have fun with the ink! We also used the background information from this activity to discuss soy’s diverse applications, such as various ways to substitute soy biodiesel for fossil fuels. Concepts such as surface tension and surfactants will also apply to the phosphorus and sulfur cycles as we continue our biogeochemical unit and discuss the history of detergents.”

McCormick had high praise for the Ag Biotech Academy workshop which she attended last summer, where she learned about soybeans’ role in world agriculture, the benefits of genetically modified soybeans, and ag-related career opportunities. She said, “Having the opportunity to work with other teachers in a laboratory setting was wonderful!”

“The lessons that are provided through the website are great resources,” McCormick said. “They range from basic to rigorous, serve a range of student abilities, and are complete. Usually lessons have to be recreated to meet my needs, but the activities were organized in logical sequences that built up the knowledge for the students to understand what they were learning.”

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