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Excited for School, Excited for Science!

Hello Cedars families! Preparing to teach via Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) has led me to spend a little less time in the forests and trails I love, and little more time on the internet. Fortunately, there is a lot to discover in both of those places (and so many others!) and I wanted to take a moment to share something I found with my new community here at MRA!

Water, carbon dioxide (CO2), and sunlight become fuel to sustain growth: that should all sound familiar from learning about photosynthesis, right? Well, scientists and engineers have been trying to mimic what plants do for years in order to achieve that same recipe for success, and this year they made a huge breakthrough. At the University of Cambridge, scientists have used thin layers of light-sensitive chemicals called photocatalysts to make water and carbon dioxide react to form a liquid called formic acid. This fuel is different from the sugars that plants create, because instead of being a tasty simple food, formic acid is hazardous to animals when there is a lot of it; in fact, some ants make and store it in their bodies to make them less appealing to predators. However, we already have the technology we need to use formic acid to power devices as small as a cell phone, or as large as a car!

This is a very exciting development, and an interesting example of humans learning from the communities of plants and animals that we share this planet with. I hope to keep sharing little discoveries like this with you all, guided by what I learn about your interests as individuals and as a community. I also hope that you'll share with me those things you've been excited to learn about! Did you find a weird bug while out on the Molalla River? Did you try out a new recipe at home? Did you play a new game online with your friends? I want to hear about it! I look forward to meeting you all in our virtual classroom this year and getting to know each other. I hope you will bring your curiosity with you - I know I'll have mine!

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