What is the matter with matter?
Currently in Scimatics, we have been learning about different matter cycles. A matter cycle is where matter (water, and nutrients like carbon, phosphorous and nitrogen) cycle through and are repurposed in nature. These cycles can be unbalanced by taking too much out of the cycle, or polluting the matter in the cycle, which is mostly done by humans. We were put into pairs to further explore a specific cycle. I was paired with Lucy W and we had the water cycle.
We started off the project with a class debate about who’s matter cycle was more important. This was hard because all of the matter cycles are very important. It was a fun way to get us to research our matter cycles and come up with some facts and figures to work with. One of my favourites is:
The Gobi desert increases in size by 3600 kilometers squared every year, because of the ecosystems near it being wiped out, affecting the water cycle. Among humans, 844 million of us don’t have access to clean water. in the MidWestern United States, and over 10 million people in the Midwest alone are on flood warning.4.5 million people die every year from lack of water.
Thanks to facts like this, we won the debate and won the “Apex Predator” award.
But this was only the start. We then had to come up with a problem that was affecting our cycle, and fix it. One of the curricular competencies for this project was to make observations so that we can identify our own questions. The research we did for the debate gave us the idea to explore the problem of pesticides. Pesticides can leak into rivers, lakes and the ocean making the fish sick and contaminating the water. The fish get eaten by other fish and bigger animals. Other animals or humans may also drink the contaminated water. Then these bigger animals are eaten by humans and the pesticide keeps working its way up the food chain. This lead to our driving question: “How can we prevent water pollution from pesticides and other dangerous chemicals from entering the water cycle?”
Another of our competencies was to explore multiple hypotheses to solve a problem. Lucy and I came up with hypotheses that we could use various different naturally occurring items to replace pesticide use in agriculture. We explored using trees, a fungus, and a few other things. Ultimately, they all ended up affecting the water cycle in some other way. We finally decided to make our own original solution. We invented a bug.
Our bug eats other bugs that destroy crops and that are currently being controlled with pesticides. The only problem was that we had to fix a few things about our bug, like not giving it wings to prevent it from becoming an invasive species.
This is where we used another competency, using our knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions, to make the design modification of a wingless bug to prevent it from becoming an invasive species. The reason this is important is an invasive species alters the food chain and can create havoc in all of the other cycles as it has no natural predators and can reproduce without any checks or balances.
We then presented our bug to the class. Here are the slides from the keynote presentation we made to show the class our idea.
In the last slide we show the competency of evaluating the limitations of our model. We show that our model has a couple of potential negative impacts. One we mentioned already about becoming an invasive species. Even without wings this is a possibility. The other possible problem was that our bug could reproduce too quickly, causing an imbalance in other cycles and the food chain.
Overall, I learned a lot and I think my mind map shows this better than I can explain in words.