Projects for 2016

Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Projects for 2016

Scientifically Yours

Everyone will participate in a total of six project sessions. You will be able to prioritize four projects from the following list. We will do our best to accomodate all 4 choices. The remaining 2 projects will be randomly selected for you.


1. DNA Fingerprinting
A crime was committed in the '70s and circumstantial evidence presented at the trial was instrumental in the sentencing of the accused to life in prison. The convicted declares his innocence. After 30 years in prison, key evidence left behind at the scene holds the clue to determining the innocence of the accused. Students will generate a genetic profile of themselves and the victim using actual forensic techniques and in the end, who knows, you may even solve a crime!

2. Love me or Love me not: Food preference in Tortoises
Ever wonder if animals have food preferences like your or I and if so, what drives this preference? Well, here’s your turn to find out! You will be conducting a short experiment using Tortoises and Y choice mazes to see if Tortoises show a preference for different foods (e.g. bananas vs. grapes). We will also explore colour preference to see if this underlies any food choice they may have.

3. Bugs in the water!
A healthy water way (e.g. ponds, streams, lakes and rivers) contains a variety of habitats for aquatic life. Aquatic insects, larval fish, and tadpoles live and feed among vegetation, rocks, and logs on the bottom. The water quality of streams, lakes, ponds and rivers can be assessed easily and effectively using benthic (bottom-dwelling) macroinvertebrates (organisms which lack a backbone and are large enough to be seen with the naked eye). Macroinvertebrates are suitable for assessing water quality for several other reasons. They can’t move around much; therefore they can’t easily escape from changes in water quality. When pollution impacts a water way, the macroinvertebrate populations are adversely affected and require considerable time to recover. They are easily collected and many can be found in water ways all year round! For this experiment, you will go for a short walk to a waterway and learn how to collect macroinvertebrates and then determine if that water system is polluted or not! This is a real view into the life of an aquatic ecologist!

4. Crazy Cricket Neuron Networks

Ever wonder why flies, spiders, crickets and other insects are so hard to catch? One reason is that insects are very highly sensitive to changes in their environment. Insects like crickets can perceive sound and air currents better than we can and move out of the way of your hnd (or a flyswatter) long before they have seen something approaching them. A key component of this ability is how information is encoded and processed in the central nervous system (ie: the brain) of the insect. This project will examine the anatomy and physiology of a cricket's sensory and nervous system and look to see how changes in the environment all play a role in how information is encoded. Participants will have an opportunity to see the neuronal activity of a living cricket and see how that activity changes in response to changes in air currents, sound stimuli and temperature. You will also be able to record this activity through your smartphone (android and iPhone) to analyze and take home with you.

Oenology and Viticulture

5. The Yeast Crime
The Crime: Two weeks ago, the prestigious Chardonnay Wine, produced in Brock University's own winery and destined for a GOLD MEDAL at the Wine Olympics, was found to have a foul smell of wet band aids and a horse barn instead of the lovely melon, pineapple, grape fruit and banana aromas with a hint of vanilla. Your Mission: to determine if one of the spoilage yeasts found in the winery infected the chardonnay and spoiled it. You will use your scientific training, deductive reasoning and evaluation of evidence to determine which of three suspect yeasts is the culprit yeast that infected the wine and caused the foul odour in the wine.

Health Sciences

6. Health and Human Performance
Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Canada? To keep your heart smart, this workshop will demonstrate the importance of healthy blood pressure values, how to perform an ECG, and how to measure the pressure in an artery using state-of-the-art equipment. In addition to a healthy heart, strong bones are important to the prevention of osteoporosis. This session will demonstrate techniques to measure bone and discuss important factors influencing bone health. Discover how muscle activation is measured and how the external environment (i.e. cold temperatures) can affect human performance. Lastly, students will be introduced to a maximum oxygen consumption test, performed by university athletes, using top of the line exercise physiology equipment.


7. Purely H2O?
A key step in the purification of city drinking water is the addition of a coagulant to assist with the removal of suspended particles. Suspended particles (colloids) scatter light and cause water to look turbid (cloudy). Alum is a chemical coagulant which is often used for clarifying drinking water. Students will make and use alum in various water samples before filtering the water through a sand and anthracite filter. To check the effectiveness of the treatment, the turbidity of the samples will be measured.

8. Flames, Fireworks and Explosions
You can choose from many spectacular experiments - The Volcano Reactions, Barking Dogs, Instant Fire, and Coloured Fireworks among them - to learn more about how fireworks are made and some common causes of explosions and fires in science labs. Demonstrators will help you set up these exciting reactions so that you can perform them safely.

9. Coffee Cups, DNA, and Slime
Question: What on earth do these three things have in common? Answer: They are all part of the group of chemicals called polymers. While the molecular formulae are all different, they are all made by chemically linking together many identical small molecules. In this session, we will be making a number of polymers, including the Ghostbusters' "slime." We will look at how they are formed, and their many uses. We will also consider the solutions to problems that can be associated with the re-use and recycling of mass-produced plastics. (And, yes, you can take your slime home with you.)

Computer Science

10. Build Your Own Space Invaders
This workshop will guide you through the development of a Space Invaders clone using the 2D game development system GameEditor. You will learn basic logical skills in order to create a game. Depending on the level of the workshop, you will also obtain basic programming skills in C. After this fun class you will be able to play your game on your PC, your Mac, or even your iPhone.

Earth Sciences

11. Go Fish!
Bring to life the ancient remains of fossilized fish from the Green River Formation in Wyoming! Using fossil preparation tools and techniques employed by paleontologists and curators in museums worldwide, you will have the opportunity to uncover and prepare your own specimen of a fossilized fish. Each specimen is different- so you may uncover other fossils during your preparatory work! We will discuss how these unique fossils formed and how studying the environments of the past give us a glimpse at our future! When complete take your specimen home with you (and prove it wasn't all a tall fish tale!).


12. Physics is Too Cool!
In this unit, you will learn about super-cold cryogenic substances like dry ice and liquid-nitrogen. You will investigate how well different types of materials conduct an electrical current at these low temperatures. The materials you will get to examine are metals, semiconductors, and superconductors. It's these superconductors that are expected to have important technological applications because of their many unusual properties; including their ability to levitate magnets, as you will see!

13. At the speed of light
This project is all about light. The internet is delivered to us at the speed of light down fiberoptic cables, using lasers of many colors. So-called 3D TV and movies promises more eciting entertainment. We will explore how this is done, and the nature of light itself, by sending sound across the room without wires; mix, filter and demix "musical light". Cause a fluorescent bulb to light up - without power. Make a true 3D hologram that you can take with you.


14. Take a Calcoolus Tour (Grade 11)
Discover how fun "calcoolus" can be using the interactive games and explorations of a software program developed by one of Brock's own Mathematics professors. You will be amazed at how much mathematics you can learn without even trying!

15. eBrock Bugs Adventure (Grade 10)

Oh no! The bullies have taken over Bug City! Can you save Smarty, Bugzy and everyone else by beating the bullies at their own game? Be warned, the bullies are clever and know how to play very well, so you'll have to put on your thinking cap to outsmart them! Don't worry, expert help is available from Smarty and Bugzy. By playing this online game, developed at Brock by a Mathematics student and two professors, you will learn many key concepts in probability.


16. STAT!!! Code blue! SHOCK!!!

Experience a session in the clinical simulation space where you will have the opportunity to provide hands-on care to our "patients".


17. Rat behaviour: Befriend the laboratory animals
We will take a brief look at animal research using rodents. We will do a rudimentary experiment such as measuring locomotor behaviour in an activity box in different situations, as well as, there will be plenty of opportunities to handle the juvenile rats and learn about their everyday behaviour. We will also feed them a chocolate treat!

18. Measuring the Mind
Discover how to measure brain function and thought through interactive neuropsychological tests - what are your 'neurological strengths'? Experience what it's like when your brain isn't able to do what it's used to doing. Discover how you can measure your mind and what those measures can tell us about the brain and and how it functions.