By: John Keithly, CitySprouts Summer Fellow
Last Thursday, our summer interns at Cambridge Street Upper School got the opportunity to tour and work in Novartis’ new community lab, which opened in December as a way to engage the community in STEM related topics. This served as a unique opportunity for the interns to learn about some of the daily operations of a scientist, as well as an introduction to lab-based learning. Though the community lab typically hosts high school and college programs, CitySprouts became the first middle school program to use the lab, helping Novartis to use its community lab space to engage and educate a wider group of people.
During their time in the lab, summer interns explored different properties of carbon dioxide, as well as gained a deeper understanding about subjects discussed in the garden. In preparation for their visit, interns focused their thoughts on what they already knew about photosynthesis, and brought up questions they had about the process. This worked as a great transition into Thursday, where the scientists helped to find answers to many of the interns’ questions. Additionally, Novartis provided materials for the interns to conduct experiments aiming to prove photosynthesis, as the process can be difficult to see with the naked eye. These experiments concentrated on different aspects of photosynthesis, examining how sunlight and carbon dioxide play pivotal roles in the process. For example, one intern wondered whether or not a plant would grow better in a solution containing carbon dioxide. In order to test this, he placed two plants into test tubes in a lit space with different solutions, with only one containing carbon dioxide. When the interns return next week for more experimenting, they will see the results of their experiments. These experiments were complemented by demonstrations from the scientists, who displayed properties of carbon dioxide through dry ice, as well as mixing vinegar with a carbon dioxide solution. Overall, the summer interns enjoyed their time spent at the lab, and are looking forward to conducting more experiments on their visit next week. CitySprouts thanks Novartis for allowing our summer interns to use the lab as a learning tool, and we look forward to further engaging the community through science, one experiment at a time.