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iLabs: Date for the Winogradsky Class

July 19, 2012

An EARLY BIRD heads up for people participating in our Winogradsky project … or for anyone who is interested in learning more about Winogradsky columns, whether or not you’ve set up your own at  home:

We have been talking about having a followup class/symposium to:

  • have anyone who wants, bring their column or a photo of their column to show their results
  • discuss what they used for ingredients
  • learn about the biology and chemistry of this unique microcosm
  • find out how the columns for the museum and for the Micro Lab fared
  • learn how all of this could be of interest to NASA and its connection to astrobiology AND robotics!

Well, we’ve set one date for this so far:

The Family Science class date will be Tuesday, November 13, from 2:00-4:00 p.m.  Details will follow and you will be able to register in late August on the Museum’s website.

There is also going to be a Saturday morning version of this class offered as well, for anyone who can’t make the Tuesday one. That date is still being worked out and we will post that date here as soon as it’s set.

Here’s the class description that will be going up on the website:

Self-sustaining life in a tube.  Conditions similar to a nutrient rich lake. Microbes maintaining an environmental balance that keeps us alive. Winogradsky columns have been described in a variety of ways.  Invented by Sergei Winogradsky in the 1800s, the Winogradsky column has been a useful tool in studying topics as important as the origin of life, the relationship of different bacterial populations to each other, and answering questions, such as “Is there life elsewhere in the Universe?” Provided with sources of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, and phosphorus, and powered by sunlight, the bacterial populations in the column grow, interact, and separate into layers of color along gradients of oxygen and sulfur. The conclusions drawn from this tool are not only interesting, but relevant to 21st century astrobiology research.

In this class we will discover just what is taking place in these columns, biologically and chemically. The group will explore the three columns on display in the museum, as well as the tubes set up in the Micro World lab, view the column progression over time through photographs, and view micro-and macroscopically, some of the bacteria involved in these processes. Any participants who have set up their own column at home may bring them or a photo to share with the class as well as explain what ingredients were used in their column. Lastly, we will explore the NASA connection — the NASA Astrobiology Institute, how their 21st century research explores the same concepts as this 1800s invention, and how robotic rovers fit into this. We may even be visited by an active robot.

Just wanted to give anyone reading this a heads-up on what’s coming.

Stay tuned!

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 19, 2012 12:25 pm

    Reblogged this on NC Museum of Natural Sciences Blogs.

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