JACKSON, Tenn. – Nov. 18, 2004 – For students in Jimmy Davis’ Perspectives in Science class, an afternoon lab is more than just a course requirement.
“I’ve enjoyed this lab more than any other class that I’ve taken at Union,” said Union University senior Sylvia Schrivner, of Humboldt. “It’s just been fun. It’s stuff that we can do in our classrooms, and it’s really interesting.”
The Perspectives in Science class is for elementary education students, and in their weekly lab they do experiments designed for them to use with their future students. For example, in this week’s lab, the class made paper.
“The point of the experiment is to show them how to use science to prepare a useful product – paper,” said Davis, professor of chemistry. “It’s designed to be simple to set up, simple to do so they can do it with their students. I’m sure their students would love to get their hands wet in that pulp.”
The process is simple enough and starts with making the pulp, which students do by tearing up toilet paper into small pieces. The put the paper in a blender, add water and mix it up.
They then transfer the pulp to a deckle – a device with a screen that collects the pulp for drying. Using an iron and a rolling pin, the students dry the pulp and peel the paper off the screen. Although crude and thick, what’s left is undeniably a sheet of paper.
In addition to making paper, this semester the Perspectives in Science students have measured how fast they run, used salts to make colored flames, made a device to observe a solar eclipse and extracted natural dyes from onions, blueberries and blackberries, among other experiments.
“The nice thing about the paper experiment is it can be used in a science class, but it could also be done in an art class,” Davis said. “All the experiments that we do have multiple purposes.”