Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Monomers to polymers: a transition

The majority of the nerds in this science lab played with Legos as children. By integrating those same building blocks we used to make battleships into a college workspace is not only helping us understand molecular evolution on a stronger scale, but also making it fun. Thus, using legos is an innovated way to enhance the learning experience. It is a new idea that is using old tricks!

Professor Hammer asks the question "How can I nudge [my students] towards a mental space where the visual outcome is just part of the imaginative process?" He says there is no one answer to any of the questions he asked. But, a path to lead to a possible answer is simple-- innovated learning. There is innovation with making us think this abstractly. 
The fact that he purposefully does not want us to "mimic" any specific polymer is innovated in and of itself. This is making us think. We are changing our primary way of learning and turning it around for amazing results. These legos in this lab are making me and my lab mates change our perspectives on conventional learning experiences. It will help us exercise the mental muscles we need to have in order to participate in mind-boggling exercises. 

I also love seeing the innovation how the blocks are being used. We are not making linear, solid blocks. We are creating beautiful multi-faceted mock polymers. Innovation is key in that.  

Our group started out making simple monomers. They ranged in sizes (from 4 to 6 blocks each). As time went on, we connected these monomers with other monomers, making a more complex polymer. Most of the people started to build theirs high to the sky. There weren’t as many that reached out to the sides, which would probably have shown the true look of a polymer. I assume that these just don’t build themselves up straight. A few of the structures had a helical shape to it. The polymers did not really occur in conjunction with any sort of color, although that would have been visually appealing. Most of the polymers built were not too strong and could have been knocked over and destroyed with one fell swoop. The exercise allowed us to see what goes in to making a polymer and cleared up confusion as far as to how they are created. 

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