Second Day (27 May, Wednesday)

  • What did you do today? (Briefly describe your day’s activities)
Each group proceeded to carry on with the final challenge. For my group it was to familiarize ourselves with the SEM and collect images of different materials. As we entered the lab, the student guide explained that the room has to be kept dark to improve the quality of the image. Each organism used has to be coated in gold to conduct heat away from it as the filament would be heated to very high temperatures. Without the coating, the biological matter used would burn. The matter used also should be dead, to minimize movement in the SEM. After explaining all of the conditions needed to be fulfilled, the student leader let us take turns to try using the machine. 
After everyone has gotten a feel of how to control the SEM, the student leader guided us to a nearby room which contained the TEM. It is able to project images as small as atoms. She then explained the importance of leaving the room as quiet as possible to minimize the vibration of atoms.
After visiting the SEM and TEM, we proceeded back to the holding room and continued our discussions for our final presentations.
We proceeded on with lunch and soon, it was time for each group to present.
Unfortunately, I fell ill somewhere between the presentations and was sent back by the teacher-in-charge. I received news later that my group was selected to present to the entire cohort the following day.
  • What did you learn today? (Discuss any learning points from today’s activities)
I learnt about the different conditions which have to be maintained when using the SEM and TEM. For example, a dark and quiet room is necessary for both machines to project quality images. Dead matter is to be used for scanning to minimize movement in the device and they have to be coated in gold to conduct heat away from the matter. This ensures that they do not get burnt when the filament is heated up to high temperatures.
  • How do you feel about today’s activities?
    • Describe how the project has affected your understanding of the discipline and how it may be applied elsewhere
    • Share your insights for the day
I found today's activities rather interesting and engaging as we finally got to see the SEM and TEM. I believe this method of looking at details of matter which cannot be seen to the naked eye is very helpful especially when planning to make products which imitate nature. For example, the gecko can climb on walls due to the grip on its feet. Scientists would not have known the cause of this without using the SEM as it allows scientists to study the feet of gecko with greater detail. With the help of the SEM, scientists then realized that geckos' feet are filled with micro fibers. They hence, used their findings to develop products with greater grips.
  • What new questions do you have regarding the discipline?
I noticed that the SEM is only able to project black & white images. Is it possible to refine the SEM such that we are able to see the colour of the biological matter used?

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