Save Earth!

This is the project described in my post, March Madness and How I Learned to Love Physics

In December of the year 2012, a dark unknown force will descend upon planet Earth composed entirely of antimatter.  It’s sole purpose is to destroy planet Earth by reversing physical law as we know it.  A brilliant ethereal being, the Wizardress of All Things Newcombness, discovered this evil plot while translating interplanetary messages for a top secret global project entitled Save Earth.  The frequency of these encrypted messages began to circulate throughout the universe as news of the demise of physics programs throughout planet Earth reached the Master of the Dark Force residing in Sagitarius A in the center of the Milky Way.  This army of antimatter wants to strike while students everywhere are crippled by fear and ignorance of Physics concepts.  The only way to avoid total destruction is to build an army of our own that will rise up and embrace physics as we know it.  We must arm ourselves with the knowledge and the skills required to create physical phenomena based on our laws to destroy the weapons of doubt that will be thrust upon us in December.  The Wizardress of All Things Newcombness will guide those who are able to unlock the password through a journey of discovery as we unite as one army to fight the dark force.  Together we have a chance of defeating the evil antimatter.  “All for one and one for all!” Before we can begin our journey, you must complete the first challenge to unlock level one of Work World.  There is a great divide that separates us from total destruction and the potential to save us as we know it.  In order to accomplish this, our army needs as many magic tokens as we can get our hands on to enter the world of work.  

Intrigued?  Here is the assignment that is given to the students on day one with their survival kit.  This is their summative assessment of Newton's Laws in 10th grade.  The rubric used to assess their projects can be found here.  We also had them do a self assessment on group collaboration.  The project reflections were great, definitely a worthwhile project. 

Mole Mountaineering (Avogadro style)

For those of you who teach stoichiometry, you know how hard it can be to get kids to organize a series of conversions that will take them from the information that you have given them to the answer.  This was a huge struggle for my kids last year, so I came up with mole mountaineering.  Here is how it goes.  You start with a balanced equation, a given value, and a desired value.  For example: 

4 FeCr2O7 + 8 K2CO3 + O2 ---> 2 Fe2O3 + 8 K2CrO4 + 8 CO2

How many grams of FeCr2O7 are required to produce 44.0g of CO2 ?

In this problem two molecules have been identified.  The one associated with the given value of 44.0 g, CO2, is mountain X and the FeCr2O7 will be mountain Y. 

You hate hiking.  You find yourself at the bottom of mountain X where the grams of CO2 are located.  You have to travel to the grams position on mountain Y to find your answer.  The only way to cross over from mountain X to mountain Y is to take the mole ratio zip line.

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Now it is time to plan your hike.  Choose the shortest route which is up CO2 mountain  to moles then across the zip line to the moles of mountain Y, then down FeCr2O7 mountain to the mass box at the bottom.  Three legs of your trip = three conversions. 
Once your trip is planned, it is time to set up your conversions.   The given value that you start with and all destinations go on the top of your conversions 44g CO2 -  Moles of CO2 - moles of FeCr2O7 - grams of FeCr2O7
Every time you go up the mountain, you have to divide your starting quantity by the quantity listed (molar mass of substance or Avogadro's #) if you go down a mountain, you have to multiply the starting number (moles) by the quantity listed ( molar mass or Avogadro's #)  As you can see, you can also calculate # atoms or molecules using mole mountaineering. 

Finally, solve your conversion top/ bottom and Voila! 

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If you would like for me to send you a copy of the java file that "Tech Assistant" 3.0 created, just send me an e-mail at and I will forward it along...or you could wait for the app!