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Science equipment in high school

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I need help brainstorming: What sort of equipment might be really valuable to a high school science teacher (biology, chemistry, physics, doesn't matter which), something that would allow them to get students testing out concepts in a hands-on way, but that in a public school they wouldn't generally be able to afford?  A high end computer is one thing, I suppose, but I'm hoping to come up with something more specialized--and more "flashy", if possible.  Something a wealthy person could donate to a school science room that would be both impressive and get a lot of use.

Ideas?
#1 - November 11, 2014, 09:24 AM
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Well, an electron microscope would be awesome. Unrealistic, maybe, but awesome.
#2 - November 11, 2014, 11:35 AM
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My middle school library just got a 3D printer. Expensive, but feasible for a one-off, and could be used for science projects (and lots of stupid toys, which seems to be how my school is using it... Grrr...)
#3 - November 11, 2014, 03:46 PM
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An ultra-centrifuge, HPLC.

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#4 - November 11, 2014, 05:15 PM
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A second Vijava.  An HPLC would be something flashy for high school!
#5 - November 11, 2014, 05:50 PM
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Forgive my lack of science knowledge--what would an HPLC be used for in a high school classroom setting? (Like, what sort of labs/experiments/demonstrations/??)
#6 - November 11, 2014, 06:04 PM
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A telescope and observatory? Spectometer?
#7 - November 12, 2014, 04:00 PM
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A particle accelerator. (Well, you asked...)
#8 - November 12, 2014, 04:30 PM

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Megan, HPLC is high pressure (performance) liquid chromatography and it's used for separation of various components and for purification. If you're after a particular protein or other big molecule, you can do some crude separations where you get your stuff in mostly pure form away from all the other things and then you can use the HPLC to get a pure fraction. Example: you have a bacterial culture that secretes an antifungal drug. This could be natural or engineered. You can centrifuge the bacteria into a pellet and the liquid above would have the drug. But it would also have other things the bacteria secrete. So you can put the liquid through HPLC with the proper resin, collect the fraction that has your drug and it will be pure. If another component has similar features as your drug, you can use different separation method. Example, one by size and another by charge. HPLC is a standard equipment in biochem/biophys labs because it's so useful ...  In our labs, we had two HPLCs and we had to sign up to use them because they'd be almost constantly be used. Someone was always purifying something or the other to use in an expt.

Ultracentrifuge is also used for separations and purifications. You get bands of stuff in base material (like a sucrose gradient). You can concentrate protein particles or viruses, etc. For ex. that drug you purified via HPLC can be fairly dilute, so you can put it through an ultracentrifuge to get it in a high concentration for x-ray crystallography. Again, very useful.

You do have to know how to run the equipment lest the 20-lb rotor blast out of its casing at 100,000 rpms. Same with the HPLC. Talk about getting your eye blown out because the bolts weren't tightened properly. It wouldn't take much to have a major accident in your book if the wealthy donor doesn't take care to train the teacher. Have fun writing.

Vijaya
#9 - November 12, 2014, 07:08 PM
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My mother taught Life Science in NYC. She'd have been happy to have standard microscopes, enough to have pairs of kids share them.

A good refrigerator might be helpful in the lab rooms. The 3D printer comes to mind for me too.
#10 - November 17, 2014, 07:48 AM
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I write about science and technology.  A 3D printer is an excellent tool and prices are coming down, so they are becoming more common in learning environments.  I just wrote about a scientist that used a drone for his research.  Other topics involved bioluminescence imaging equipment, radio and/or satellite telemetry for tracking, bioacoustics equipment to measure sound, MRI and/or CT Scanners, submarines, and robot submersibles.     
#11 - November 18, 2014, 10:26 AM

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