Agriculture
Flush-Free Fertilizer
Watching out for vultures
New Gene Fights Potato Blight
Amphibians
Poison Dart Frogs
Tree Frogs
Salamanders and Newts
Animals
Glimpses of a Legendary Woodpecker
A Meal Plan for Birds
Not Slippery When Wet
Behavior
Math Naturals
The Colorful World of Synesthesia
Making Sense of Scents
Birds
Backyard Birds
Falcons
Macaws
Chemistry and Materials
A Light Delay
The newest superheavy in town
Boosting Fuel Cells
Computers
Hitting the redo button on evolution
Lighting goes digital
Middle school science adventures
Dinosaurs and Fossils
A Dino King's Ancestor
Did Dinosaurs Do Handstands?
Meet the new dinos
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
Plastic-munching microbes
Ancient Heights
Groundwater and the Water Cycle
Environment
Swimming with Sharks and Stingrays
Forests as a Tsunami Shield
Will Climate Change Depose Monarchs?
Finding the Past
Unearthing Ancient Astronomy
Chicken of the Sea
Oldest Writing in the New World
Fish
Catfish
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
Piranha
Food and Nutrition
Food for Life
In Search of the Perfect French Fry
The mercury in that tuna
GSAT English Rules
Adjectives and Adverbs
Subject and Verb Agreement
Problems with Prepositions
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Scholarship
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Mathematics
Prime Time for Cicadas
It's a Math World for Animals
Play for Science
Human Body
Dreaming makes perfect
Heavy Sleep
Sun Screen
Invertebrates
Bees
Tapeworms
Starfish
Mammals
Rabbits
Lion
Chipmunks
Parents
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
Children and Media
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Physics
Hold on to your stars, ladies and gentlemen
One ring around them all
Black Hole Journey
Plants
Getting the dirt on carbon
Underwater Jungles
Sweet, Sticky Science
Reptiles
Reptiles
Geckos
Black Mamba
Space and Astronomy
Killers from Outer Space
Older Stars, New Age for the Universe
No Fat Stars
Technology and Engineering
Slip Sliming Away
Model Plane Flies the Atlantic
Beyond Bar Codes
The Parts of Speech
Pronouns
Adjectives and Adverbs
What is a Noun
Transportation
Flying the Hyper Skies
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Ready, unplug, drive
Weather
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
Science loses out when ice caps melt
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Add your Article

Challenging the Forces of Nature

A tsunami is approaching the beach. Time is running out. In just 20 minutes, it'll be all over. "We should start focusing on how to prevent the tsunami," says 14-year-old Anudeep Gosal of Orlando, Fla. His teammates, all 12-to-14-year-olds, are drawing on a dry-erase board and experimenting with ways to block the giant wave. The clock keeps ticking. "There's 7 minutes and 49 seconds to finish this thing," Anudeep says. He shakes his head, grabs a handful of plastic zip ties, and runs to the water's edge. Can a teenager in jeans and a gray T-shirt stop the destructive power of a massive wave with just a bundle of plastic strips and the help of his friends? The answer is: No. Luckily, this nightmare is just a simulation. Figuring out how to tame a tsunami's destructive power was one of six 90-minute problems presented to finalists at this year's Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge (DCYSC). Every year, DCYSC brings the nation's top 40 middle-school science-fair winners to Washington, D.C., to compete for thousands of dollars in scholarship money, dream science trips, and other prizes. Students work in teams of five, but judges score them individually on their ability to cooperate, communicate, and think through problems. As deadlines loom, Discovery Channel interviewers and cameramen push their way into the action. Tsunami science In "Tsunami Science," the grey team's first challenge, finalists faced a 40-foot-long tank that was 5 inches wide and filled about halfway along its length with 10 inches of water. A nearby table held strips of sheet metal, plastic boxes, wooden boards, and various tools. First, finalists had to figure out how to create waves at one end of the tank. The grey team did it by sliding a big box into the water. Other teams used a paddle. Teams also had to make sure each wave they made was the same so that they could measure how high the water splashed at the other end. Splash height represented the wave's power to destroy. "If we were small people in that tank, we'd feel so helpless," said red team member Taylor Jones, who's from Maryville, Tenn. With these imaginary little people in mind, teams then had to work out how to tame the tsunami by building fake beaches or other types of terrain that would absorb its impact. Before their 90 minutes were up, teams needed to film a 3-minute newscast to explain their findings. Creating the video was just as important as solving the problem, says head judge Steve "Judge Jake" Jacobs. "We don't have enough science communicators," he says. "That's why people are scared of all this stuff." Eye of the storm Averting disaster and alleviating fear came up a lot at DCYSC this year. Its official theme was "Forces of Nature," and most challenges involved dangerous situations that occur in the natural world. In "Eye of the Storm," for instance, teams had to create a tornado by positioning fans around a platform. Smoke came out of a hole in the floor, while a 600-pound fan sucked air upwards from a height of 30 feet. If finalists set the direction and power of the fans just right, they could create a tall, spiraling funnel cloud. Over at "Into the Thick of It," meanwhile, finalists experienced what airplane pilots see when they have to land in thick fog. In a 16,000-square-foot test chamber filled with mist, teams compared differently colored boards to see which ones were most visible. (Yellow and white, it turns out, worked best). Standing up to the forces of nature showed students that understanding the science behind tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, and thick fog can help us protect ourselves, even if we can't prevent them from forming in the first place. Emergency workers Recent disasters have also shown that just being prepared for a disaster isn't enough. Injuries and deaths still happen. And so, "In Case of Emergency" challenged finalists to act as emergency workers and clean up a pile of toxic medical waste, including bloody gauze pads, gooey pus, and amputated body parts. The objects were fake, but they looked nauseatingly real and smelled gross. "Where are we going to put the bloody hand?" asked blue team member Aaron Rozon of Hawaii, as he poured a package of potato chips over it. He wanted to use the plastic bag as a wrapper for waste. Wiping his hands on his apron, he added, "I'm totally covered in this stuff." When the judges used a black (ultraviolet) light to reveal how completely contaminated everyone was, 14-year-old Neela Thangada of Texas looked disappointed. "We should've had a plan," she said. "With division of labor, we would've done a much better job." Teams discovered that planning ahead was important for all the challenges. Simply jumping into problems and trying to solve them through trial and error could quickly lead them off track. Making and testing hypotheses worked much better. Talking and thinking Communication also emerged as a major asset. The yellow team, for example, found out during the tornado challenge that their quietest member, Garrett Yazzie, also had some of the best ideas. "I don't talk a lot," says Garrett, who's from Pinon, Ariz. "I'm more of a thinker." Once his team recognized the nature of their group dynamics, they were more willing to listen when Garrett spoke. "Soft voice, loud voice," said Shireen Dhir of Georgia, "as long as you get your idea across, that's what matters." As finalists gained confidence in their ability to think like scientists and communicate ideas, their fear of natural disasters seemed to slip away. At home in Florida, Heather Foster, 15, has seen a number of frightening hurricane-caused tornadoes. Watching the tornado that she helped create, however, made her giddy. "This is fun," Heather said. She hopped and clapped every time a funnel formed. "Next time it might make me want to run up to a tornado and see it, because this is really cool." For the record, if a real tornado comes your way, head for the basement. Unless you're on the set of a Discovery Channel event, the eye of a storm is not a safe place to be.

Challenging the Forces of Nature
Challenging the Forces of Nature








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™