So far this is my favorite activity, and also the hardest simply because I kept finding myself going off on tangent to review my physics terms. The following is a summary of my post and some additional materials I found to help me and my students and classmates here to understand the plot.
- Are there certain areas where natural materials cover more of the graph, and are there areas where natural materials do not cover the graph?
- The most obvious patterns that I identify from the graph I prepared is that there are no natural materials represented on the bottom right portion of the graph and in the middle left section. In other words, concrete-like materials with high strength but low flexibility and materials like man made neoprene do not seem to have natural counterparts. However, this is not completely true because natural rubber occurs in the area next to neoprene but was not part of our class exercise, so, assuming this natural rubber has not undergone the "vulcanization" process that cross-links the natural fiber with sulfur, than the only missing section in the natural biological materials would be concrete-like substances (from the graph that I composed). I am surprised by this only because I thought that bone would come somewhere close, but this makes sense to me as bone is a "living" tissue and should afford some flexibility (unlike concrete).
- What is your general feeling about how manufacturing seen in nature compares to manufacturing in human societies for materials that cover the same area of a graph?
- I like to use the example of KevlarTM and spider silk. They are so close on the overlap!! The production of spider silk, by spiders at room temperature and pressure is AMAZING considering its counterpart, Kevlar, requires extremely high temperatures, fossil fuel feed-stocks, concentrated sulfuric acid 1 and high temperatures to...form mostly planar sheet-like structures rather like silk protein.2 Here is a cool video link that was released this year that describes a new fiber made from spider silk that will be released to the public:
- I find this type of technology extremely interesting. I would like to incorporate this information, that is , the overlap between synthetic fibers and manmade materials, to my students as part of an "engineering" mini-unit in both my Biology and Chemistry courses.
- General comments/extensions: I truly enjoyed reviewing all of the biochemistry information. This is the heart of all biological processes. The one component that really "turned me on" is the formation of bone, enamal and shell-like materials from precipitation reactions. I teach mostly chemistry classes along with AP Biolgoy and the connections to be made here cross-curricularly, are tremendous. I can see how the precipitation unit can be extended to include the importance of pH on equilibrium shifts in precipitation events that lead to bone deposition, coral reef formation, etc. I found this cool video link that could be used in your classes that illustrates the effects of a changing ocean pH (due to high carbon dioxide levels) and the formation of shells and coral reefs. I hope you can use this in your class. I plan on using this example in my chemical reactions unit in my chemistry classes next year.
- I also found a cool short video on the explanation and use of ASHBY PLOTS that you might be able to use with your students to give them an idea of how engineers use this to select and predict materials that will work for specific jobs. I really like the easy jargon the guys in this video use; they are engineers who can speak in layman's terms with some cool examples.
1 Kevlar Technical Guide. Dupont.com Retrieved 2014, June.
2 How Kevlar Works: A Simple Explanation. Explainthatstuff.com. 2009-12-June.
When I did my research on my Glossary term, I ran into ASHBY plots several times. I felt prepared when I read the primary source articles and clearly was able to see the connection between the activity and the research required to complete our glossary post.