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KIPP Heritage Academy

September 2019 - May 2020

Opportunity X Representatives: Rashi Ranjan and Anika Bhatia

Sponsoring Teacher: Ms. Simran Sabharwal


We are so excited to start a new school program at KIPP Heritage Academy, held afterschool on Mondays!

September 7, 2019: KIPP 101

Rashi and Vedha went to KIPP Heritage's "KIPP 101" event, talking to students and parents about the program and planting the seeds of STEM at KIPP! We had the opportunity to talk to many prospective students and gauge their interest in the program. Our first meeting will be on Monday, October 7th!


October 7, 2019: Welcome to Opportunity X!

We had an introductory meeting at KIPP Heritage with fifteen students! We started by introducing the scientific process and talking about problems that affect our favorite animals in groups. Talking about human activity and its effect on the environment also had the students thinking about projects and topics we may be interested in investigating further.


October 21, 2019: Strawberry DNA Extraction

For our second meeting, we performed strawberry DNA extraction! The students were excited to learn about the different types of variables. To perform the extraction, we developed our own extraction liquid using household ingredients, like detergent (lyses, or bursts the cell so the DNA can be taken from where it's safely guarded inside the cell) and salt (helps clump the different DNA strands together). Everyone was excited when we added the alcohol, which caused the DNA to precipitate out of the liquid to where it was visible under the microscope.​


Mashing strawberries to break them down as much as possible


Adding salt and alcohol to lyse (break open) cells


Extracting the DNA that has floated to the top

October 28, 2019: Effects of Radiation

The power outage gave us a unique topic to talk about—how do the devices we rely on every day affect us? We learned about the effects of radiation today and its real-life applications. Using an EM meter, we measured the radiation emitted by a phone when it's stationary, when a text is sent, and when a text is received. Everyone was surprised when the meter abruptly moved. It also encouraged the students to practice protecting ourselves from radiation by not sleeping with our phones next to our heads or making sure to use the lead vest when getting an X-ray. We also tested three different materials (cardboard, plastic, and foil) to determine if any of them can block radiation.

November 4, 2019: Making Ice Cream

The students were super excited to make their own ice cream from scratch! By learning about salt's effect on ice's melting point, we were able to make ice cream with a firm consistency. We also learned about how the amount of salt was an independent variable that affected the temperature (and therefore, consistency) of the ice cream. After shaking for a while and getting our ice cream in cups to eat, the students heard about participating in Opportunity X Science Fair and Synopsys Science Fair. We'll be brainstorming ideas next week!


First, we mixed milk, vanilla, sugar, food coloring, and our desired toppings in a bag. After putting that small bag in a larger bag with ice and salt, we shook the bag as much as we could, waiting for the ice cream to become firm. We removed the ice cream from the bag, added chocolate chips, and were excited to eat it! While eating the ice cream, we talked about participating in science fairs and the types of projects that we can conduct at these fairs. 

November 18, 2019: Brainstorming Projects

Today we began brainstorming science projects! A lot of our students demonstrated interest in participating in Synopsys Science Fair, and we're all super excited for the Opportunity X Science Fair, too. We thought of ideas based on the problems we face every day, like having a heavy backpack. Over the Thanksgiving break, we're going to think about our project ideas and refine them to begin conducting them.

December 2, 2019: Invisible Ink

At today's meeting, we learned about four different ways to make invisible ink. These included chemical reactions, like the oxidation of lemon juice and the combination of grape juice and baking soda. Through this lesson, many of the students were inspired to think about what else could be substituted, which introduced the concept of acidity. We spoke about the pH scale, and some students are excited to use this concept in their own science fair project.


December 9, 2019: Lava Lamps

For the last meeting of the semester, we decided to make lava lamps using materials everyone has at home: baking soda (Alka-Seltzer tablets), oil, food coloring, and water. The students enjoyed seeing the effects of the chemical reaction and relating the buildup of the carbon dioxide bubbles to opening a soda can. We learned about polarity and density. Everyone enjoyed it so much that they took home some Alka-Seltzer to show their siblings and parents—because the chemical reaction can be carried out again and again! Lastly, we did a mini-experiment with Skittles to explore diffusion, which showed the students what the Skittles' coating is made of: food coloring and sugar. We also used this as an opportunity to make some cool designs. Everyone's excited to start off next semester with project brainstorming.


February 24, 2020: Welcome Back!

For our first meeting of the new semester, we welcomed a new group of students along with two students from the previous semester. To make it easier to understand how to conduct a science fair project in preparation for the Opportunity X Science Fair, we are doing a long-term science project as a club. Our project focuses on the effect of different colors of light on plant growth, and we'll keep the plants out in the KIPP garden. We designed the experiment, coming up with a hypothesis, how we would define and measure "growth," and determining its real-life applications. We also narrowed down what kind of projects we're interested in and split into teams. 


March 3, 2020: Developing a Question

Today, we were able to collect our first set of data on our long-term experiment involving the effect of different colors of light on plant growth. In just one week, our plants have grown (an average) an inch. The plant receiving "yellow light" grew the most. We are continuing to develop our hypothesis and do research on the topic!

In addition, we got into our science fair groups and did research to develop either our testable question or engineering design. We have a mix of projects, including behavioral sciences, biology, and engineering. In the coming weeks, we'll be starting to conduct our projects after finalizing our procedures. 

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