All posts by Selene Reyes

Chemistry Teacher 10th grade J. Frank Dobie High School-Early College Pasadena ISD

Data and the Water Treatment Field Trip!

So our machine is up and running this past week.

We are using Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) to measure the Tg or the glass transition temperature and Tni (Transition temperature from nematic to isotropic).

Luckily, most of my samples were already made so I just put them in the machine and every 76 minutes I would put a sample in.

I’ve also had to input all my data into excel and make graphs, which I’m still working on.  This reminds me of the ExxonMobile trip we had and how the engineers there said to make sure students know how to use excel if they want to be engineers.  In the future, I would like to incorporate use of excel to plot data in chemistry.  It makes students analyze the relationship between two variables rather than just passively doing an experiment.


The field trip was fun even though we didn’t get to tour.  It was informational. I attached all the pictures I took. Somehow the pictures are always flipped so you might have to download it to see it correctly and not all pics came out with good quality.


Week 3 Polymers

We are kind of stuck in our experimentation so I will update you guys more on this for the next post.

As for the tours, they were really fun and interesting to see other teacher’s experiences.  Last year, I was in BRC for my research so it was nice to go back to that building.  I’m even more interested to see what lessons will come out of this research! I love the curriculum portion of our internship project.  I attached some pics of that day 🙂


This weekend I tried to make polymer bouncy balls but failed and instead got globs. lol  So, it will be interesting to see how I change the lesson up so that I do get bouncy balls.  That way, students can test their products in different ways.  I used 50% glue/water solution and 4% borax solution based on a write up I read online. I used clear elmer’s glue and orange food coloring. I will be trying other ways to try to make the bouncy balls.  If the bouncy balls don’t work out too well then I could make this a different lesson focusing on making “Gak” or “slime”  This is very interesting because it’s exactly how I feel my research is going. We are making samples of our polymers but trying to find the best one for our project.

If you leave the polymers out long then they would take the shape of the flat surface. You would probably have to hold it in a ball to retain shape.
My lesson plan assistant helping me make the polymers at home.

Making Polymers! Week 2

There was failure in the synthesis of the polymers at the beginning of the week but after Wednesday things started to work better!

My mentor uses Python for calculations and graphs. So, I think that would be an interesting thing to look into in the future when learning coding.  This week I created an excel WS for calculations instead of hand calculating everything. I made a mistake in my hand calculations which took some time away in lab.

Using excel to calculate moles and amounts needed to synthesize polymers. I can easily change the percent of the reagent I want and have it calculate how much of it I need.
Hand calculations for synthesis of polymers









Failures and Successes


  • šAftermath of placing samples under UV was not successful until Wednesday.
  • šPurpose of UV light is to “lock” in the alignment “shape memory”

Wednesday afternoon and on

  • š1 concentration of samples worked so we are working on that now
  • šWe are adding another reagent to see effects
Samples actually stay clear after UV light is applied meaning the sample is good to use for analysis.
In the research group meeting, there is a short safety talk. A member of the group designed this and quizzed people on safety precautions.

About over a week ago, we also had a group meeting where a person in the research group, an undergrad, gave a short safety talk. I think it was very important so that people know where everything is.  For example, you should know where the eyewash station is without having to look for it in case of an emergency.  I plan to use this in my classroom during the 1st week of school when going over safety. Safety is important all the time anywhere. 🙂

Making Polymers!

Coming back to Rice this summer has been interesting!

I’m working with Morgan Barnes in Dr. Verduzco’s lab.

She was recently featured for her work in the current project we are working on as well as her new project creating 2D Kevlar.  Super cool stuff!

In general, it takes me a long time to get something. Especially if I’m learning something new! Morgan has been very patient and always answers my questions even if its something we had gone over already.  It is interesting to note that  she knows what I’m going through as far as learning protocols for the first time.  She recalls when she started this project and had to go through lab books left from the people previously working on the project.  She had to learn everything on her own as well.

Even though my background is in Biology and Chemistry, I feel that one will never truly know everything that there is to know in the field.  For example, in the lab this week we are synthesizing our liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs). LCEs are soft reversible shape changing materials that are currently only able to do that at temperature of 75C and over.  In order to apply this to biomedical devices, we need to lower that temperature. This is our main goal but we must work out the perfect ratio of reagents.  The synthesis portion has become a detailed task that I’m still trying to master.  It is almost an art like baking a cake.  You have to be precise about the reactants or ingredients being placed as well as how long to place in the oven or in my case on the hot plate to let the reaction go through.  The oven part is messing me up LOL

I have to remain positive though and make sure that I master the synthesizing of the material.  I’ve also learned more about material science which is something I never went over or have looked at since going to college and teaching.  It is such a fun field with many applications in bio,chem and physics.  This is helping me mold my brain into engineering as creating my lesson.

Anyway, I’m hoping that my next update will be a success in making the polymer so that we can continue on with the project. It is super exciting! I admire all the people working in this lab, there are many that I see are here before me and are here after.  I stopped looking at the time as much as I would do at work and focused on finishing small goals for the day here at Rice. I want to make sure that I’m focusing on the project and helping it go along smoothly! 🙂