Properties of Fluids (Middle and High School curriculum lesson)

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This lab explores the properties of water flow. This inquiry-based lab consists of 2 sections: the Guided Lab Activity and the Going Further (research) portion. The guided lab activity, performed on the first day, is designed to help students observe and understand the way fluids interact with a stationary phase for example, chromatography paper. As the students do their guided lab activity, they will be responsible for generating a minimum of three questions related to the lab activity that would require further research. The Going Further (research) portion should be used on the second day as an inquiry-based follow-up to part 1. The purpose of this portion is for students to get some answers to their chromatography questions. Each student will choose one of their generated questions and research the answer to it. Students may end up researching the properties of liquids, the different types of liquids used in food, the body, the medical field, and in industry, as well as how chromatography and nanotechnology link together (for example, nano-liquid chromatography is used in "lab-on-a-chip" technology). From their research, students should to be able to devise a new experiment that will allow a deeper understanding of the material; this exercise could be done for extra credit. Part 2 explores the properties of water flow. Students will observe capillary action through the use of capillary glass tubes and colored water. The students will need to determine the best way to hold the glass tubes so that the water travels upward just like it does in plant stems. When things are very small, gravity may not seem to work. Students will come to the understanding that some forces can override gravity in certain cases. They will be introduced to a branch of nanotechnology called microfluidics, which uses microchannels to direct fluid flow. This lab connects with the Big Ideas in Nanoscale Science and Engineering (Stevens et al, 2009 NSTA Press); Big Idea – Forces and Interactions: All interactions can be described by multiple types of forces, but the relative impact of each type of force changes with scale. On the nanoscale, a range of electrical forces, with varying strengths, tech to dominate the interactions between objects.


Year created

National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) funded by the National Science Foundation

Owning institution

National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN); © 2007 Board of Regents, University of California, Santa Barbara


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