Description Of RET Experience: 

  • Areas of study - Methods of thin film deposition and analysis, fuel cells, electrolysis, and rocketry
  • I had the opportunity to learn a lot about the thin film research at Montana State University.  Nanotechnology is playing an important role in the development of new materials to be used in a variety of technologies; fuel cells in particular.  I set out to discover a variety of techniques for developing and analyzing thin films using state of the art equipment in the labs at MSU. 
    • Examples of thin film deposition:  MOCVD (Metal Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition) and MBE (Molecular Beam Epitaxy),  used for poly-crystalline and single crystal film deposition; thermal evaporator used to evaporate thin films onto a given substrate; sputter coating used to condense atoms on the surface of the specimen to be coated
    • Examples of thin film analysis: XPS (X-Ray Photoemission Spectroscopy), Rutherford backscattering, PPMS (Physical Properties Measurement System)

As I participated in these activities, I discovered many real world applications of basic concepts taught in the 8th grade Physical Science curriculum so I will be able to share these examples and experiences with my students.  

  • fuel cell
    I also had the opportunity to experiment with a polymer electrolyte fuel cell.  It is dismantle able so that my students will be able to see the inside structure; cathode, anode and polymer electrolyte membrane.  By attaching a bubbler for moisture, pumping in hydrogen and oxygen, attaching a voltage meter, mini fan and humidity indicator, the students will be able to observe a fully functional fuel cell.





  • electrolysis
    I also developed a lab for students to perform an electrolysis experiment splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.  One of the graduate students in our lab, built me a very innovative electrolysis device for demonstration purposes that can produce large quantities of hydrogen and oxygen.







  • fuel cell car
    After students see how hydrogen and oxygen are used to operate a fuel cell with water as a byproduct and water is then split into hydrogen and oxygen, they will be well equipped to understand a fuel cell car.  Our demo car uses electrolysis and a fuel cell to operate on water alone. 





  • rocket
    I also had the opportunity to develop a rocketry unit for my classroom.  The graduate student previously mentioned built me a rocket launcher for 2-liter bottle rockets.  Students will experiment with rocket designs to optimize maximum altitude based on Newton’s laws of motion. 

This experience was a phenomenal opportunity for me to do real scientific research in a professional atmosphere with knowledgeable physicists.  It also provided me with a multitude of hands on experiences to enrich my 8th grade curriculum.  

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