Alpha Mad Scientist
Learning Lab students embarked on a scientific adventure in the Alpha Mad Scientists workshop last session. Each week, Austin students were introduced to a type of science or engineering, by watching professional scientific productions, then were put to the test with a challenge pertaining to that type of science. From biologists to physicists, or chemists to environmental engineers, they had to put on their problem solving caps and meet a timed challenge in hopes of becoming THE Alpha Mad Scientist!
In their introduction to the workshop, Alpha students had to think like a chemist and determine whether their pumpkin drink or pumpkin volcano underwent a chemical or physical change. During Thanksgiving week, they used the concept of biomimicry and solved a problem using a turkey as their inspiration. They built bridges out of popsicle sticks, created a vessel that would hold at least one cup of water, mixed butter, and constructed as many of the six simple machines as they could. Those who completed the challenges in the allotted time were dubbed the scientist/engineers of that week.
The final challenge had students choose their favorite type of science or engineering, then create their own science video to show off what they know about that science. In their video, they were to name a type of science, include an explanation of that science, then perform an experiment to show off the science. It was exciting to see their videos come together after they considered their host personas, searched for science experiments online, and practiced dialogue to ensure they included all video requirements. Students voted on their favorite scientist video and this one was the winner!
On the final day of the workshop, the student efforts were commended and the prestigious Alpha Mad Scientist Award went to the student who completed the most challenges throughout the entire workshop. This was no small task, as some students failed to complete a challenge each week either due to time restraints, failed contraptions, or they gave up on the challenge when it became too difficult. Students walked away from the workshop with the understanding that in order to be an Alpha Mad Scientist, they must not only know science, but be willing to overcome the struggles that are inevitable when uncovering scientific challenges.