Who Swiped the iPad? Let’s Use Science to Find Out

Daylong Seminar Gives Students Problems to Solve

Braylon Taylor watches her big sister Lane, who attends Center Park Learning Center in Grandville, write down conclusions to her lab experiment
Braylon Taylor watches her big sister Lane, who attends Center Park Learning Center in Grandville, write down conclusions to her lab experiment

Figuring out who stole Jerrell’s iPad might not sound like a STEM activity. You’re wrong. It is.

Samati Martinez, a Kenowa Hills Alpine Elementary student, can now show people how to make a robot
Samati Martinez, a Kenowa Hills Alpine Elementary student, can now show people how to make a robot

Area middle school students took on the case at the “Falling in Love with STEM” annual event sponsored by The West Michigan chapter of the Association for Women in Science.

About 50 students recently took part in the event at Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University, giving students hands-on experience with projects related to science, technology, engineering and math.

To solve the make-believe theft problem, students tested pretzels, peanut butter, jelly, yogurt and beans for organic compounds to see which type of food residue was left on the device.

Alborada Caballero-Diaz of Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center could be on her way to an engineering career after designing and building a robot that draws
Alborada Caballero-Diaz of Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center could be on her way to an engineering career after designing and building a robot that draws

At a makeshift laboratory in a GRCC classroom, they put on lab goggles then went to work pouring iodine into beakers (testing for carbohydrates); rubbing food on brown pieces of test paper (testing for lipids); and adding 20 drops of Biuret reagent (whatever that is) into beakers (testing for proteins).

Their tests showed the substance on the book was peanut butter, so peanut-butter-loving Bruce was the one who pilfered Jerrell’s iPad in the make-believe scenario.

Other stations at the event taught students how to identify fossil hash, try a prosthetic claw, fly through space with the power of a telescope and do a magic trick. A scientist from Van Andel Institute was even there to answer any question they might have.

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Linda Odette
Linda Odette is a freelance writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism. She’s worked primarily as an editor in feature departments at newspapers in West Michigan, including the Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Holland Sentinel. She lives in East Grand Rapids near the Eastown edge, has a teenage son and a daughter in college. Read Linda's full bio

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