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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby SciB » Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:07 pm

Hi again,

Oh, now I understand why you used the word prototype; but actually the word we use in the lab for different procedures like that is 'Protocol'--just for your information. You don't want to use a word that might confuse the judges like it confused me because it can mean something different from what you intended. Just make sure that you clearly and visibly define what each 'prototype' stands for, so there is no confusion.

There are many opinions on how to do a good presentation of a science project, but i think they all have a couple of things in common--simplicity and clarity. Give a brief introduction on oil spills and clean up methods. then state your hypothesis in a simple sentence. Explain how you tested the hypothesis (Methods), what were the results and what are your conclusions.

Will you be talking in front of a display board or using Powerpoint? Usually the judges give you only 5 minutes for a presentation so be prepared to explain everything briefly, simply and clearly. Practice your talk several times so that you don't need cards. Reading a presentation is the worst thing you can do. You know what the project is about. You know your hypothesis and the experiments you did and the results, so just calmly and simply explain them as if you were talking to some friends. They may interrupt with a question if they don't understand something, but you should expect that. Your display board should have all the photos, illustrations, graphs, tables, or whatever you need to show the judges as you are talking, so when you practice the talk make sure you do it with the display board.

Let me know if you have more questions.

Congratulations on a successful project! You're almost done...

Sybee

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby Vlance » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:19 pm

Hi Sybee,
I will be talking in front of a board that I am making myself. Do judges prefer a printed board or a hand made board? Since I am building my board now I have to pick a title and I'm not sure what it should be. Do you have any suggestions?

-Vlance

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby SciB » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:02 pm

Hi and congratulations on successfully completing the experimental part of your project! I hope you learned a lot and I hope I can continue to help you in your schooling. The more different knowledge sources you have the better educated you will be and most likely to choose the best life path.

As for the type of display, follow the guidelines of the science fair coordinators. They should have a description of what you should and shouldn't do.

Here are my recommendations:
The board can be handmade. The main thing is to make it easy for the viewer to see what you did. Use lots of photos with clear captions. Have your hypothesis clearly stated in large type at the beginning (usually left to right and top to bottom). My preference is usually for a simple title but one that says exactly what you tested and what happened--something like:

Nontoxic plant-based PHYTOL makes clean-up of oil spills more effective.

Don't put too much on the board. Think about it from your audience's point of view. They can only look at a few things at a time and follow what you are saying. Find out how much time you will have for the presentation. It is usually not much--5 to 7 minutes. Prepare your talk to fit the time frame and allow a little extra for questions.

The goal is communication and understanding so try to make your presentation brief and CLEAR. The judges just need to know what you did and why before they can appreciate your results. We have been on this thread together for a long time and I have confidence in your knowledge and ability. Let me know if you have questions. Practice your talk several times in front of different people and ask them for feedback. Use the board as your notes and talk about your work just as if you were speaking to your friends.

All the best,

Sybee

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby Vlance » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:06 pm

Sybee,
Thank you so much! I just thought of a couple more questions. Is it the correct terminology to say the oil was contracting? Also if I have more information than I can fit on the board, can I have it be in a binder in front of my board to gesture at?

Thank you again for all your help,
Vlance

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby SciB » Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:55 am

Yaay! Almost done...

Having your lab notebook with extra info on a table by your display is a great idea. That way you don't have to load up the board with so much info it is unreadable. If someone has a specific question, you can show them any relevant pix in the notebook.

Contraction of the oil slick is an accurate word to describe what happens when you put phytol around the spill area. Another word you can use is 'coagulate' . The phtyol molecule has two parts. One is soluble in oil ['hydrophobic'] and the other is soluble in water ['hydrophilic']. These two parts work together to lower the surface tension of the water and cause the oil slick to coagulate and to pull back on itself, getting denser and thicker. A small, thick oil slick is much easier to suck up or burn than a big, thin one.

Here's a couple more websites that I just looked at that you might want to reference if you haven't already:

https://www.azula.com/plant-based-molec ... 13153.html
http://www.conservationmagazine.org/201 ... l-cleanup/
https://www.aaas.org/news/biodegradable ... ll-cleanup

Good luck! Any more questions--i'll be here.

Sybee

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby Vlance » Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:01 am

Hi Sybee,
I was just looking at the phytol molecule again (on a diagram) and I am not so sure what represents what. I was hoping you could help me get a better understanding of what I am looking at. I understand that it is an OH molecule, made of hydrogen and oxygen, but what exactly does that say about the phytol? Here is a link to the image I am looking at, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytol#/m ... Phytol.svg

-Vlance

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby SciB » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:31 am

Uh, oh...time for a chemistry lesson!

Just so you are clear on chemistry lingo--phytol is the molecule. The diagram in the Wiki entry on phytol is a representation of the phytol molecule. The zig-zag lines correspond to the chemical bonds between carbon atoms (C) in the molecule. In some diagrams you will see the carbon atoms designated by the symbol 'C' (like the C in carbon dioxide which is also a molecule, CO2). So, if you want to make the diagram of the phytol molecule clearer you can draw it so that there is a C at the end of each line. I tried to find an example of what I mean, but this is the best I could come up with for now:

http://grants.health.unm.edu/biomed505/ ... rawing.htm

The --OH at the endo of phytol is called a hydroxyl group because it is made up of hydr(ogen) and ox(ygen). Note particularly that --OH is not referred to as a molecule. Chemists call it a 'hydroxyl group'. If you call it a molecule a scientist may not understand, so call it what it is: a hydroxyl group, or just a hydroxyl.

As to your question--yes, the hydroxyl is one of the most important parts of the phytol molecule and that is because it makes the molecule slightly water soluble. You know from putting a drop of crude oil on the water surface, that the oil does not dissolve in the water. That is because of its chemical properties that are determined by the types of atoms in the molecule and the way they are attached. Look at the phytol diagram. The zig-zag part of the molecule is NOT water soluble, but it is soluble in oil. So, when you put drops of phytol around the oil slick, the zig-zag end of the phytol dissolves in oil while the --OH end stays in the water. This dual property of phytol is what makes it able to congeal and contract the oil.

I hope that makes sense to you. Here's a good YT video that explains this with illustrations better than I can:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77OEg0F9ajw

PLEASE if you have more questions, make a list and post it and I will help. I want you to be able to explain your project accurately and confidently, and the only way to do that is to be 100% familiar with the terminology and the science behind it.

Sybee

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby Vlance » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:07 am

So I want to make sure I have this all correct, the zig-zag part of the molecule dissolves (is soluble) in oil. The OH hydroxyl does not dissolve but is slightly water soluble but it is part of the reason why the oil is contracting. Is this correct?

Also, is this a better diagram of the phytol molecule?
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... rmulae.png


-Vlance

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby SciB » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:17 am

Yep--you got it. Watch the YouTube video about water vs oil solubility. This gives you the terms used by scientists to describe the water-soluble part (hydrophilic) and the oil-soluble part (hydrophobic).

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby SciB » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:26 am

Hi VLance,

It's been almost a week since I last heard from you and I wondered how you were doing on your project--or if you were finished. If you have any more questions, ask them now so you can be prepared. And please let us know how well you do in your science fair. Your project was a good one and should win a prize!

Thanks for sticking with us for so long. I hope you found Scibuddies helpful and look forward to being your mentor again in the future.

All the best,

Sybee

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby Vlance » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:50 am

Hi Sybee,
The regional science fair competition is this Friday. I'm trying to go through all of my stuff and perfect it. I also am not sure what to do about my speech. Should I have something rehearsed or treat it like a conversation. How long will the judges let me speak for? Also what is some of the important science I should include in my speech? Is there anything else I should research about? I don't want to be stumped by a judge.

-Vlance

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby SciB » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:10 pm

Hi Vlance,

You want to be very clear and accurate in your talk but you don't want to sound as if you were reading it. The words should flow as conversation, but you need to at least practice your outline so you don't forget to include something. Scientists and probably most science fair judges are used to thinking about a research project in the same order as a research paper--introduction, hypothesis, methods, results, discussion and conclusions. If you follow that order then they will understand your project clearly.

You can put photos, diagrams, tables, graphs and bullet points on your display board and refer to them as you talk about each section of the research. The board is like a set of Powerpoint slides that remind you what to talk about next.

As to the time, keep it as brief as possible, but also explain everything as clearly as possible. You have a fairly complex project and I would estimate ten minutes as your time target. You can ask your teacher or the fair coordinators what a good average time might be. The judges are not going to stand there with a stopwatch. If they get excited by your hypothesis and curious about some aspect of oil clean-up, they will spend more time with you asking questions.

You can never know everything and the judges know that. Their questions will be geared to your grade level, but you should really try to understand the science at an advanced level if you want to impress them. Be especially careful with scientific and technical terminology. Most scientists use words very precisely and they can be confused when someone uses a term incorrectly. You have been reading papers dealing with oil spills and clean-up and phytol chemistry for quite some time now and you must be familiar with the science and the way researchers express themselves. Just follow their lead and you will do fine.

Do some searches using the recent time filters on google so you find the latest information and keep reading and making notes. Take a look at Youtube and watch some videos that are relevant to your project. Listening to a good teacher or scientist lecturing about your subject is an excellent way to prepare your own talk. In fact, there are many good videos by teachers that tell you how to do a good science presentation and you might watch a couple of those for hints.

And if I can help in any way, short of being there to cheer you on, all you have to do is ask.

Cheers!

Sybee

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby Vlance » Tue May 01, 2018 5:17 pm

Hi Sybee,
I was wondering how would I scale this so I could compare it to the real world? I was hoping that I could somehow say that is the oil spill was this big, you would need this much solution. How would I do this? I think that I may have asked this in the past but I can't remember what I should do.

-Vlance

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby SciB » Tue May 01, 2018 6:01 pm

Hi Vlance,

Yes, I think we did talk about scale-up once before. That was when I asked you how much oil you put on the water and what was its surface area. The amount of phytol needed to contract a real oil spill depends on the amount of oil and the type and the temperature, and probably other factors like wind and waves. You'll have to do some research to see if you can find out this information.

You know approximately how much oil was in your experimental oil slick and the volume of phytol that you used, so you could try and scale up to a volume of oil that is equivalent to one barrel. How much is that? I didn't know either, so had to look it up: http://www.businessdictionary.com/defin ... l-bbl.html

So, one barrel (abbreviated 'bbl') = 42 U.S. gallons or about 159 liters

I forget how much oil you put on the water, but if you took that volume and divided it into 159 L you would get the scale-up factor for phytol for one barrel of oil.

Real-world oil spills would be more than 1 bbl, however. I looked up the Exxon-Valdez oil spill of 1989 and found that it was 266,000 bbls!! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exxon_Valdez_oil_spill
That would take a huge amount of phytol to clean up. The oil covered an estimated 11,000 square miles of ocean. Just traveling around an area that large would take a long time.

Since most news reports of oil spills use barrels to measure the oil, you can scale up your experimental oil slick to the equivalent of one barrel and use that amount of phytol as your figure for calculating amount needed for larger spills. Do some more reading and see if you can find some guidelines that oil cleanup crews use for ocean removal. I don't know how much data there are about the actual use of phytol in oil spill clean up but there have to be some reports.

Remember also that phytol will break down in the environment. I don't know how long it is expected to last, but more phytol would have to be used to replace that which was used up. I know this sounds complicated, and it is, but don't worry too much about this. Explain to the judges that not much is known about the use of phytol in actual oil spills and that the amount needed depends on many factors. I would suspect that clean-up crews spray a certain amount of phytol around an oil spill and then watch what happens. If the oil doesn't contract enough, they spray some more. And the next day, they may have to spray more if the oil is still spreading or if wind and waves are breaking it up. What I am trying to say is that there cannot be a single rule for how much phytol to use for a certain amount of oil because there are too many variables involved. You use enough to do the job.

I'll be watching for more questions and wishing you good luck. Do let me know what happens. I am sure you will do well.

Sybee

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Re: Science Fair Project: Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Postby Vlance » Thu May 03, 2018 11:42 am

Hi Sybee,
Thank you for the information! The regional science fair is tomorrow, any last minute tips? Also, will a judge listen to a 20 minute speech because that is where the time for my speech is around.

-Vlance


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