Hello and welcome back to my blog! In this blog post, you’ll be learning about things that matter. Or more specifically, the matter cycle, get it, they matter? Anyways, enough of me messing around, and get straight into the post.
In Scimatics this term, we’ve been learning about matter cycles. As always, we were put into groups of 2. I was partnered up with Anika. Each group had to chose a cycle they wanted to research about and we decided to chose the Nitrogen Cycle. So, let’s talk about what we did for our project.
As always, we have a driving question. This time though, we created it ourselves. The driving question for us was “How overusing nitrogen affect the ecosystems around us?” Now that’s what you’ll find out.
First, we had to do a debate on which cycle was more important out of the four matter cycles. The cycles included the Nitrogen Cycle, Phosphorus Cycle, Water Cycle, and the Carbon Cycle. For us, we came 2nd out of the 4 groups. The water cycle beat us in the finals. Anyways, it was fun and it was good to learn about the negative effects people have on the cycles. It was also good to know that the cycles can also affect each other.
Now let’s talk about the main project. For our project, we had to try to come up with a solution to the problem that is occurring with our cycle. Obviously, there are many different things that are currently bad for the Nitrogen cycle but we only focused on one. Now before we get too deep, let’s talk about the basics, and what the nitrogen cycle is.
The atmosphere is made up of 78% nitrogen. We need nitrogen for protein and our DNA. Unfortunately, we can’t breath in nitrogen like oxygen, we need bacteria and plants to break them down for us, then we consume the nitrogen in our food. Here’s also a diagram of the Nitrogen Cycle.
There are also many ways that the human activities are impacting the nitrogen cycle. Disrupting the nitrogen cycle can lead to imbalances in ecosystems. For example, soils with too much nitrogen can become acidic. Increased nitrogen in aquatic systems can lead to eutrophication which is the Algae Bloom.
For our project, we decided to focus on the Algal Bloom, or Algae bloom, whatever you want to call it. The Algae Bloom is when there is an overgrowth of Algae in a body of water. This is what creates something called a dead zone. The algae would get really thick which will block the sunlight from going into the water and organisms below the algae would die because they need the sunlight. Algal blooms occur when nitrogen, phosphorus, (all part of fertilizer) gets washed into a body of water. This is what causes the overgrowth of algae in that body of water. Run off from irrigation from farms flow into streams and groundwater, which then runs into lager bodies of water.
Now, we had to go on to the solutions. Bacillus bacteria will use the same nutrients of algae, and is a nitrogen fixing micro-organism. It seems that this solves our algae bloom problems in slow moving or still non salty water. Bacillus bacteria is like a natural garbage disposal for your pond. This bacillus bacteria can be found in soils and water. These tiny rod shaped bacteria can survive under tough environments. Also, people are using 300,000 tonnes of nitrogen fertilizer a year and it’s increasing by 0.5% each year. People are already trying to decrease the use by 50,000 tonnes per year which will help this problem out. There are many ways that you can use different thing for plant growth. You can use compost which is the most common, and eggshells. Eggshells contains a great source of calcium, which allows your plants to have a great cell wall. The eggshell is also like a shield for your plants. The sharp edges keeps away the slugs and snails to allow your plant to grow. Compost on the other hand does contain less nitrogen, it’s like a natural fertilizer. It’s also better than using actual nitrogen fertilizer because that will cost more algae blooms! Down below is a diagram of the bacillus bacteria.
We also created a model to show algae blooms. Here it is.
Anyways, we did a presentation on this during class but it wasn’t the greatest. We had a lot of places for improvements. So that’s why, I’m here to talk about the core competencies.
1. Formulate multiple hypotheses and predict multiple outcomes.
For this, we gave 2 ideas on how we can solve this problem but we didn’t really explain what the bacillus bacteria is or how it actually helps. Or how may people decrease the use of fertilizer. All we said was people that are trying to reduce the use of fertilizer. Now that people are trying to use fertilizer less, we can always use something else like eggshells and compost!
2. Contribute to finding solutions to problems at a local and/or global level through inquiry.
Now for our actual model, we created a model that shows how algae blooms occur. We were trying to teach people about the algae bloom instead of giving a solution. That didn’t turn out the greatest. If our model was a representation of comparing using eggshells and compost to nitrogen fertilizer, and shows the difference of how much algae bloom occurs, I think that would’ve been better.
3. Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence.
Now this is something we didn’t completely fail at. We did talk about how having a Algae Bloom can effect drinking water. Now the algae bloom starts with the water cycle and when rain comes down, it brings the nitrogen and phosphorus from the fertilizer into bodies of water.
Well, this is near the end of the post but not quite yet. You know we always do mind maps for science, so here they are. They things I learned are marked in red by the way.
Anyways, we wrapped up another fun project to be honest but with a lot of fails! First attempt in learning is what we like to call it! Hopefully you enjoyed this post and for now, I’ll see you in the next one. Goodbye.