Sunday, June 11, 2017

Genius Hour #6: Bases and Buffers and Oils (oh my!)

     So my Sunday night was comprised of three different trials of bath bomb making. The first started with the replacement of the base, and the realization that I could do no such thing from my house. I couldn't find a singular page online talking about baking soda replacements in bath bombs even though I did find this video, it didn't show too much promise. From there I just had to look for general baking soda substitutes. I could only find two that were common on the inter webs. The first: yeast. Yikes. No one really wants to bathe in a fungus. Also, the only property they shared were their ability to
"raise" things, and that's not really what we want anyways. The next was potassium bicarbonate. I could only find this in "Stump Be Gone" a product that google said was all natural and safe, and also sold at Home Depot. So at six thirty on Sunday night, I drove to Home Depot to see if I could find it. I could, but surprise, they made a really big point on the package to mention that it should not come in contact with the skin at all. Great. Tomorrow I would like to try one final trial with a weak base from the school, but at home, there's not much I can do.
     The next thing I wanted to try was to replace the corn starch; the buffer of the recipe. The corn starch plays a role in keeping the bath bombs together and also is just kind of there to be there and to make sure nothing too wild and crazy happens with the final reaction. The more corn starch you add to a recipe, the less of a fizz you'll get. Again, I was unable to find any bath bomb specific substitutes online, so I had to generically look up corn starch substitutes. A frequent one I found was flower, for its thickening properties. However, because flour has thicker particles, the texture in the batch after the reaction occurred was very unpleasant. Thick bubbles formed all over the surface and a cakey film formed across the top. 0/10 would recommend bathing in that.
     Finally, just for fun, I replaced coconut oil with olive oil. Olive oil was my oil of choice not only because I already had it in the house, but it also has been praised in the world of skincare for its antioxidants and moisturization properties. However, when I tried it in the bombs, it was kind of a disaster. Everything seemed fine on the surface, but when I put my hands in the water, they felt sticky and not pleasant and that was definitely something new that came from that particular batch.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a successful last day!

Genius Hour #5: A Wild Goose Chase

     Hey there, reader. This post won't actually have any real information about my project, but it will be a fun anecdote explaining how long and convoluted my process was to get where I am now in regard to my project.
     So I started off my Saturday like any other day off. Just kidding, I never have days off. But anyways, I went to go pick up my paycheck from work. At work, my boss told me that there was an error with the shipping of the citric acid and that the sending address was all wrong and the order canceled. After looking into it for another solid length of time, she determined that actually, it sent to the PO box so I could go pick it up. Having never been to this post office before, I was super anxious. Especially since I didn't know our box number or have a key. So I got there and just told the woman that I was picking up a package for the Funky Bubble. Luckily, no questions were asked and I got the box and brought it back to my car. Citric acid acquired, mission complete! Just kidding.
     So I get home yesterday afternoon, and I'm determined to start running my other trials. But when I get home I realize: all of my project equipment is at home. Yikes. From here I have to drive all the way back to the store and ask my boss if I could just cash my check at TD instead of Citizens so I could get the money right away. She said she had no idea. Oh boy. So I called TD and asked them and they said either it would be free or they would charge me and there was no way of knowing until I got there. Because I had literally no money with me, I had to borrow some from my boss just in case.
     At the bank, it turns out they don't actually charge me (thank god). So now I have all of my money I need and I can give my boss her ten dollar bill back and everything will be a-okay. From the store (which I have now been at four times in one day), I trek to Walmart and pick up all my ingredients and pray nothing was missed and that I have some substitutes for these products at home. Luckily I was able to make all my purchases, however, it was relatively late in the day by the time I got home and I had late afternoon commitments, so I had to push off until Sunday. Hello, it is Sunday. Stay Tuned.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Genius Hour #4 - Doing Even More Acid

     With the first attempt of switching out the citric acid in the bath bomb recipe being unsuccessful, to say the least, I decided to give the test another go. This time, I'd actually switch out the acid active in the recipe and would also hope the end result would be a little less...gross. To do this, I would be replacing the citric acid with vitamin C, which is also known as ascorbic acid. The new equation for the reaction would be as follows:


It should be noted that the chemical makeup of these two acids is very similar. The only difference is the amount of oxygen. Since oxygen plays part in the release of carbon dioxide in the reaction, which explains why the bomb didn't dissolve as well and that there was less "fizz" happening when the bomb hit the water.

All and all though, the biggest problem I'm facing right now is that my citric acid is gone and after asking my boss if she could order the citric acid three different times and she didn't so I had to order it yesterday so I will be able to make new bombs within the week when it comes to the store!  

Monday, May 29, 2017

Genius Hour #3: Doing Some Acid

     So the first trial I did in my experiment was with switching (or trying to switch) the citric acid in the recipe. My boss suggested a sort of "Pinterest hack"she found where the citric acid is replaced by the drink mix Crystal Light. After this I also realized that the first ingredient in Crystal Light was citric acid. So, there goes that idea. Also, not to mention that when trying to make the bath bombs they fizzed out in a super gross way and it was super chunky and the lemon scent was way too powerful.
     Because this test was a resounding failure, I'm going to try and switch the acid in the recipe with another weak acid to see if the effects of that are any different. I'm currently in a position where I'm trying to figure out which new weak acid I should replace citric acid with in the new recipe, which I'll probably do tomorrow and see how that goes, stay tuned.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Genius Hour #2: Background Research

     For those who are unfamiliar, a bath bomb is a form of body product used when taking a bath. The purpose of a bath bomb is for it to fizz out, soften the water, release a nice scent, and have products which are good for the skin. They have had an increase in popularity throughout the years through companies such as Lush, the founders of the bath bomb, who have sparked the fizzy craze worldwide.
     I have my own company which I run out of the store I work at (The Funky Bubble Bath and Body) called Taylor's Tubs. The basic ingredients I use for my bath bombs are as follows:

  • corn starch 
  • baking soda
  • citric acid
  • dead sea salts
  • water
  • essential oils 
  • coconut oil 
  • food coloring
     Each of the ingredients plays an important role in the end reaction of the bath bomb. As previously stated, bath bombs are traditionally placed in water to form their reaction. The reaction is an acid/base reaction with citric acid as the weak acid and baking soda as the weak base. The corn starch plays a role as a mediator if you will, for this reaction. The reaction between the acid and the base produce the CO2 bubbles which are responsible for the "fizz" of the bomb. The small bit of water that is included is just to function as an adhesive. Ideally, the bath bombs should be powdery but should have enough wet ingredients mixed in that it can still be easily packed together. Of course, if too much water were to be added, the reaction would occur prematurely and the batch would be defective. The equation for the reaction is as follows: 

(the seven pasted in weirdly, don't mind that)  

     The rest of the ingredients (dead sea salts, essential oils, and coconut oil) are all there simply for the effects they had on the body and the overall aesthetic of the bomb. Essential oils and food coloring are relatively self-explanatory: color and scent of the bath bomb. The dead sea salts I use are Ahava Deadsea Salt in the scent "Natural". The product claims it can help the body with "relaxation, easing muscle tension, and softening your skin".* Coconut oil has also been a rather trendy and useful skincare product, especially as of late. Coconut oil helps the skin retain moisture, helps protect the skin from microbial infections, repairs skin, softens skin, slows the aging process, among many other great properties. For these reasons, it makes perfect sense as to why it would be included. 
     In this experiment, I will be running trials to see how the bath bombs made with my usual recipe compare to recipes with ingredients replaced with alternatives. I'll be trying to replace the citric acid, baking soda, dead sea salts, coconut oil, and essential oil (all in separate trials, respectively). So stay tuned to see if I can make any alterations to my current bath bomb recipe!

(also, I quoted the back of the Ahava cointainer for the salts) 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Genius Hour #1: Let's Get Down to Business: How I regularly make my bath bombs

Hi there. My name is Taylor Bouchard, and if you were unaware, I have one of the best jobs ever. I've been working at The Funky Bubble Bath and Body for the past year and it has easily been the greatest job I've ever had.
Look at that cute little apron, I'm such a happy camper
Okay, so recently, my boss decided that we should make and sell our own bath bombs. And with that, my job got a little more exciting. With my Genius Hour project, I will be taking different ingredients in the bombs and changing them out to see the effects. However, we must have a control to compare this to. That's why this post is being made: to show you how I usually make the bath bombs. Consider it as my "control group" I suppose. 
I have my own logo so's pretty legit
I start out with my dry ingredients. In one bowl I'll combine baking soda, corn starch, citric acid, and Ahava Deadsea Salts. 

In a separate bowl, I'll combine water, essential oils (since I am making Creamsicle scented ones at the moment, I combined half orange with half almond scents), and coconut oil. If I'm using an oil without color I'll add a few drops of food coloring in, too. However, as you can see, the orange I was using was super orange so that wasn't really necessary. 

After both bowls are well mixed, I'll pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients slowly and combine with a whisk until the mix is evenly covered in liquid ingredients and can be packed together. 

After this, I will pack the mix into a muffin tin and let it sit overnight. 

If I really want to, I'll decorate the bath bombs using sugar decorations and candy pens. 

Then, I'll wrap and label all the bombs, and put them out on the shelf in the store. 

All background research and information on why these ingredients are important are soon to come! 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Weekly Review for the Week of April 24, 2017

This week mainly focused on our transpiration lab. My group decided to focus on salt water to see how that would impact the transpiration of the plant. Though a little tricky at first, we were able to successfully set it up and run the experiment to see that in both our trials, it didn't take too long for our salt water plant to droop over and die. Now, the focus has shifted to our posters which will help us convey this data and will help us better our understanding of the lab. Though my group isn't too far into the poster work, I still feel the collaboration and the further explanation have really impacted my learning in a positive way.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Week Review: Heart Week Edition

     Let me start this by saying that Heart Week was easily one of my favorite weeks we've had in class this year. Something that really helped get my mind going was doing out the diagram of the heart, but what really made that click for me was the hands-on experience. Being able to touch, cut open, and jam my fingers into a heart really made the experience for me. Not only was it super cool to be able to compare and contrast Hannah and I's heart to other hearts in the room, but being able to take what I learned previously through worksheets and the diagram drawn and apply that knowledge to the physical heart really assisted my learning. Dissecting and working with physical body parts has been something I haven't been able to do since fourth grade, so being able to do so now with much greater background knowledge was really cool because I had maintained the childlike wonder of a fourth grader while simultaneously possessing the knowledge of an AP Bio student.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Weekly Review for Week of April 3, 2017

     There's not much I can say. I was only in class last week for one and a half classes due to sickness and SATs. This has not benefitted me at all because now I am very behind and very confused in almost every class, especially this one. All I really got to do this week was work on the nutrition sheet, which helped me familiarize myself with the concept and also made it easier for me to understand the other sheets done by other people.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Weekly Reflection for the Week of March 27, 2017

     This week, there was a major emphasis on review of inheritance and genetics. The activities we did throughout the week, looking at standards 4.5 - 4.9, really helped me in remembering different forms of inheritance and how they worked. This was something that came to me a little more easily because it was something I did very well on freshman year, and it's easier for me to remember things that I both enjoyed and was good at. My favorite activity of the week was working with the virtual flies and discovering the dominance and recessive patterns of particular traits. I discovered that singed back was a sex linked trait which was unintentional but good because it was similar to another example in the packet that confused me, so it was good to do it again and be reassured. All and all, I am looking forwards to getting to work even more on inheritance and genetics.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Weekly Reflection for the Week of March 20, 2017

      On Monday we wrapped up looking at cancer by doing an activity that looked at different mutations for different patients of different cancers. I thought this activity was interesting because I had a very "odd one out" kind of patient in regard to it's mutated genes. This helped me learn how different mutations of different genes can still amount to the same types of cancer, and also that although the mutations may be different, many of the chromosomes they can be found on will be consistent through many types of cancer.
     Tuesday and Wednesday we started talking about my favorite unit: genetics. I had so much fun with it in my freshman year that it was the easiest for me to remember the things that we went over in class. Reviewing standard 4.5 helped me jog my memory and reassured me on some of the things I was foggy on, like blood type and dihybrids.
     There's not much more I can say about the week because I missed the two last classes of the week, but hopefully, this week will continue my success in Mendelian Genetics.

Monday, March 20, 2017

3, 2, 1 Analysis

  • Three things you learned from this activity:
  1. Although there will be some overlap, not all mutated cancer genes are consistent throughout all patients with that kind of cancer.
  2. Frequency in colorectal cancer is increasing in children. 
  3. Many chromosomes will hold mutated cancer genes for multiple types of cancers. For example, chromosomes 12 and 17 were very common among most types of cancer.
  • Two things that surprised of interested you:
  1. All of this research is happening right now. When I looked up colorectal cancer, I found many articles from this month, and all of the first-page search results were posted in 2017.
  2. Seeing the consistency of chromosomes with mutated genes on them, or even just other trends in general (for example, most of my colorectal group had a majority of tumor suppressor genes) fascinated me. Especially since with the particular patient I had, the qualities of his mutations seemed not to fit any trends. 
  • One question you still have:
  1. Are the patients we looked at in today's sample accurate to the current trends present in cancer patients? (For example, if three out of four people had the same mutated gene, would 75% of the people with that type of cancer have that mutated gene?) 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Weekly Reflection for the Week of March 6, 2017

     This week, I have confirmed to myself that I am a lot better in regard to my comprehension of material when I am working on my own rather than with other people. This is due mostly to the fact that I need to be in a more quite environment to focus and do things effectively, and when I'm with other people, I often take a lot slower because of how easily distracted I get. I noticed this especially with the two packets we did throughout the week, when I would always fall behind, but would go home and be able to finish the packet on my own in significantly less time than I ever would have been able to do in class. When I am at home, I feel like I understand things better, and in this environment I am able to go back to things that may have confused me in class and figure them out. Though my current ability to pay attention in school is something I've been working on this year, it is still something I continue to struggle with.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Weekly Reflection for February 27 - March 3 2017

     The main focus for the past two weeks has been biotechnology with emphasis on PCR and electrophoresis. Starting out with the basic information, we looked at the three part biotechnology vodcast which covered tools and techniques, applications, and ethics of biotechnology. The set up of this vodcast made it easier for me to work with all the information because of the amount of content in the total vodcast as well as my busy schedule that probably wouldn't have allowed me to sit down and watch all forty-five minutes of vidcast in one sitting. In addition, we also looked at the next vodcast which talked about viruses.
    The big thing that happened in class was the PCR lab. We were able to use PCR and electrophoresis to determine the presence of a gene sequence in the individuals in our lab station. The biggest struggle for me in this lab was trying to correctly prepare the solution to be injected into the gels. I must have messed up along the way somewhere because my band did not show up in the gel at all. If I were to do the lab again, I would try harder to take my time and to read the instructions clearly to hopefully result in a more successful end result. The coolest part of this lab is that we will be able to compare the class data to data found in different parts of the world, which is also something I am excited to see in the near future.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of February 6, 2017

     On Monday we discussed standard 4.2 and genetic mutations. I feel I grasped this concept pretty well in regard to the different kinds of mutations that can occur as well as what their overall impact will be in the genetic sequence. On Tuesday this standard was further elaborated on, which was beneficial in furthering my understanding even more.
     On Wednesday we began our Play Dough animation projects, where I get to work with the lovely Becca to bring out made up gene to life in all of its colorful, doughy glory. This is what the main focus was for the rest of the week, which was fun, although I find myself being lost in the processes sometimes. Many things are very similar with slight changes, and that's something that throws me off and something I plan to improve on. The stuff that especially tripped me up was the first three part Vodcast of this domain.
     Doing the second three-part Vodcast on the side of this was interesting. I sat down and did the whole thing in one go (which I was very proud of) and it was something I found very interesting since technology has always been something I have been fascinated with. I look forward to collaborating with my peers on Monday (or maybe Tuesday *crosses fingers for snow*) to see if they share the same excitement, as well as to hear their ethical thoughts in regard to genetic testing and modification.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of January 30, 2017

     The first day of this week started out with our big ol' midterm exam. Though I felt pretty confident whilst taking the exam, my grade just kind of looked at me and said "ha, I beg to differ". On the bright side, I got higher than a fifty, so my "grade" was pretty okay. On the not so bright side, I've been far too busy recently to actually look at what I did wrong, which I need to be better at for exams in the future.
     Tuesday kicked Domain Four into gear with standard 4.1. The packet done on the experiments of Mesleson and Stahl made sense to me. Light things should indeed be higher up than heavier things. I also thought that disruptive replication (I think that's what the name was at least) was a really funny hypothesis to have on DNA replication. However, I guess back then they didn't really know better.
    Wednesday brought the J-man himself, Jeff M into our lives. Though many were very harsh on the poor guy, when Nina, Gridley, and I accused him of being a delusional man with little sense of who he truly is, we tried to do it in the most polite way possible.
     Thursday brought talk of replication, which is a personal favorite. I think coding RNA to proteins is super fun just because I like looking at charts and feeling like I'm doing big fun puzzles. This day also wrapped up the Official Roast of Jeff M.
     With Friday came talk of replication, another thing I feel like I'm pretty solid on. However, one thing from Friday that I wish I could've done better was to write my homework down correctly so I'd remember to do this journal entry on time. But so it goes. There's always next week.