Friday, November 18, 2011

Confused mosquitoes, revealing bandages, and scuba spiders.

Welcome to S.T.E.M. Friday! I want to tell you today about three fascinating ways Science,Technology, Engineering and Mathematics have made life better. Two of these ways are the doings of people and the third is from a spider. Yes, in their own ways spiders apply S.T.E.M. to adapt and survive.
In the November/December issue of YES MAG: The Science Magazine for Adventurous Minds (for ages 9-14) Dr. A. Ray tells us that he contracted malaria from mosquito bites and that when he became a scientist he decided to bite … or, fight back.(Check this video with Dr. Ray) He found a solution in natural scents that send these deadly creatures off track. Mosquitoes find their victims by following a scent track of carbon dioxide left when breathing out. Dr. Ray found out that two airborne chemicals released by ripening fruit, wine, and beer interfere with the CO2 tracking sensor, and mosquitoes cannot find their victims. The experiments are very intriguing and may spark ideas for science fair projects. Dr. Ray’s studies are very important because mosquitoes transmit several serious and deadly diseases, such as malaria, yellow fever, West Nile virus, and more. Hopefully a new line of effective and less expensive natural repellents will be available soon.
The November/December issue of KNOW: The Science Magazine for Curious Kids (for ages 5-9) has the two other articles. “Color-changing bandages” is the result of the scientific mind of Dr. Louise van der Werff, a good example of a women in science, solving a problem we all face: how to care for a wound. Combining chemistry and engineering, she invented fibers that change color with temperature, and weaved them into bandages. As wounds heal problems may arise. This is important for all types of wounds, but especially for those that take a long time to heal. If the wound gets infected, its temperature will increase. If it does not get enough blood, it won’t heal well either and the wound’s temperature will decrease. Dr. Louise’s bandages can give an early warning about these problems. Check out what inspired this young woman to pursue this project. I hope we can find these color-changing bandages available in the near future.
And finally, the scuba spider (on page 3 of KNOW). In European rivers lives "Argyroneta aquatica," a small spider that spends most of its life underwater. To me, it is always fascinating how nature finds a way to survive. Argyroneta builds a breathing chamber underwater weaving its silvery net around air bubbles.
Physics of gases in water come handy as air in water diffuses into the bubble replacing the air the spider consumes. Argyroneta can spend a whole day inside the underwater chambers. Even more, Argyroneta eats, molts, and lays eggs in her diving bell. And when her babies emerge, they apply S.T.E.M. right away too! How did scientists discover how the underwater chamber works? Check it out!
I am delighted my articles have contributed to these great science magazines for kids. YES and KNOW provide an upbeat and fun way to enjoy science. And I love the color photos, cartoons, funny captions, hands-on activities and book reviews by kids. I have been contributing to YES since 1999 and fewer years to KNOW (released several years after YES). And YES has been awarded the title of “Periodical of the Year” by the Association of Educational Publishers!

Check other S.T.E.M. Friday blogs in Dig this Well! And if you have a minute, visit my website

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog and this is one of your most fascinating posts yet! I had no idea that mosquitoes find their victims by following a scent track of the carbon dioxide we exhale. I agree, this could spark some great ideas for science fair projects. I also love the color-changing bandages which can alert the wearer to potential problems early on in the healing process. What great magazines and what a great blog!