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Monthly Archives: June 2011

…Almost SUMMER!

Posted by: Mitchell

Hello all,

So here we are at the last week of my 4th year here at Cal Poly (gasp!).  These past four years have been amazing, but I still cannot believe how fast they have flown by. 

One of the classes I am taking this spring quarter is Organic Chemistry and in our last lab we got to put all that we had learned into a more “fun” type lab.  In the last lab we were learning about how polymers form when reactions happen so we made slime, silly putty, soap, and a silver mirror!  When we were making the soap my only thought was about Tyler Durden and the movie “Fight Club,” but that is a completely different subject.  But to get back on subject, part of the reason I love Cal Poly is because not only is it hands on, but everything thing you learn about and do in class is PRACTICAL!  Nothing is more important to me in my education then being able to link what I am being taught to real life, and seeing how lessons learned in Crop Science, Ag Business, English, or Statistics can all be applied directly to my future.

Making soap! Pretty cool to make the stuff that makes you squeakly clean!

Silly putty -- who ever said chemistry was boring definitely did not take the course at Cal Poly!

My lab partner excited about his silly putty creation!

Did you ever watch Nickelodeon growing up? The green glossy substance is actually"GAK", not to be confused with silly putty!

Homemade gak.

Some of my classmates mixing up their silly putty.

Silly putty mixture.

We actually MADE a mirror! All it consists of is plating silver onto plastic!

Another class I am taking right now is my Senior Project class, and my project is actually another perfect example of not only “learn by doing,” hands on, but once again practicality.  My senior project is looking at different varieties of lettuce grown hydroponically, and analyzing how they uptake nutrients and water differently.  By growing them in a hydroponics system, we can keep the system closed and see exactly how much of the nutrients that the plants were given actually were taken up by the lettuce plants.  What this information tells us is how well each different variety utilizes the nutrients given, and therefore, hopefully, we can find the plant that does so more efficiently. 

Now while this may not seem that exciting or important to the casual observer, to me it is a great project because it hopefully lead to two things for the lettuce industry. One, it will allow the industry to start to breed lettuce crops that are not only high yielding, but also require less nutrients, which in turn will save the farmers money.  The second thing it will do is allow for fewer nutrients to be used, and more of those nutrients to be absorbed directly by the plants, and have less N-P-K to be lost in ground water and in soil, therefore lowering our environmental impact as agriculturists.  I will let you know the results once we are all finished!

Other than that, I leave for my soybean breeding internship in Iowa in 6 days, so I will keep you all updated on what I learn out there once I get rolling.  Have a great summer and I hope to see you all at Cal Poly once I am back winter quarter!

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Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Uncategorized