Monday, 27 May 2013

Science SIA 2013 - Overview (Video)

Reflections - Yong Li Xuan (31)

From writing a proposal, to researching on the topic, to experimenting with sweets in the laboratory, I have learnt a lot from this interesting process. I have learnt from my mistakes, and although our experiment did not yield a positive result, we have learnt much from the journey. The first step was to write a proposal. Although we had some knowledge about writing proposals from last year's Basic Research Program, we were still quite lost, and struggled to write the final report. Although we missed out a lot of things, and the proposal was rejected, we still peservered, and found an alternative. We had to learn from our mistakes, and not be dejected by the less than positive feedback from our teacher. Our experiment also failed, as we could not find a suitable solvent to dissolve the dye. Our teacher recommended hexane and ethyl acetate, however, the lab techinician said that it was too dangerous and that it would "fry our brains". So, we had to conclude our test, without positive results. I still enjoyed the entire Science SIA because it was fun and interesting. What matters is the process and not so much on the final result.
(Word count: 198)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Reflections - Tan Bao Jun (23)

           This Science SIA has indeed been an enriching experience as my group mates and I have gained a deeper insight of the usage of certain chemicals as well as chromatography through the many experiments we had conducted. Unfortunately, our experiments did not achieve any positive results in the end. Nevertheless, our group has gained new knowledge and also a higher level of understanding of the different aspects in Science.
           We had to face various problems and challenges whilst doing the project. Firstly, we had to think of a different and a more feasible experiment to carry out after our initial draft proposal was rejected. It was completed with some difficulty since it had to have a certain depth to it and at the same time, showing how the experiment relates to our daily lives, hence making the world a better place. Secondly, there was the problem of finding a suitable solvent for our chromatography which involved melted candies as our solute.
           Through the practical sessions, we have learnt the proper handling of chemicals, which includes ethanol, hexane and propanol. It was a pity that we did not get to use ethyl acetate for our chromatography since there were risks to it despite it having provided a higher chance of success for our experiment.
            All in all, our group has worked rather well together despite the few conflicts that we have encountered. It was a valuable experience and I would not refuse a second opportunity to do this Science SIA.
(Word Count: 249)

Monday, 20 May 2013

Reflections - Lim Xin En Grace (12)

          For our Science SIA, I personally feel that we did not fully make use of the time that we were given, as we did not take any initiative to start working on our experiment. We dragged and waited for a long time before truly starting on work, resulting in a last-minute rush of work. We also did not plan our experiment process well, and when we were executing our experiment, we were rather lost and did not know exactly what to do. This resulted in us being unable to efficiently complete our experiment and we were lacking in a great amount of time to complete work. However, I felt that we were still rather cooperative and we stayed back together as a team to do our experiment. We did not complain much and exhibited rather good teamwork.  
          In response to the problems that we encountered, I feel that there were many areas for improvement. In terms of lack of time, I think that we could have better allocated our time and we definitely could have started work far sooner, instead of pushing everything to the last hour. We also could have been more well-learned with regards to our experiment by reading up more about solvents and solutions before conducting our experiment so that we would not be unsure of what to do. 
          In general, we could have been more well-prepared and have a better sense of time so that we could do a better job of our SIA.            
(Word Count: 248)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Submission 4 - Final Report with Finalized Data

Submission 4 - Final Report with Finalized Data

In today's society, many people turn to candies as a treat for themselves. Especially for parents, they often reward their children with sweets and the like, as children have a sweet tooth for such treats. Also, such colourful sweets are appealing to the eye. However, most sweets found in the market today have gone through genetic engineering, leading to much artificial food colouring, lots of sugar and other substances included in their production. These can in turn be detrimental to our health if there is an over-consumption of sweets as excessive sugar intake will cause health problems such as diabetes.  

Research question(s):
1. What are sweets without artificial food colouring?
2. Are sweets and chocolate mainly sugar without food colouring?
3. What would the food colouring be like after being separated into its components and what exactly are the different substances they contain?

1) Test tubes
2) Chromatography paper
3) Varying types of sweets and chocolate eg. Skittles, M&Ms', Smarties, Nerds, Gobstoppers etc.
4) Pipettes or droppers
5) Bunsen burner
6) Ruler
7) Pencil
8) Salt

1) Melt 3 Skittles of the same colour in a test tube over the Bunsen burner flame.
2) Whilst waiting for the candy shell to melt and dissolve, get a strip of chromatography paper and mark a pencil line 2cm above the bottom line to represent the starting line.
3) Stop warming the test tube over the flame after the candies have dissolved into its liquid state. It does not necessary have to be fully dissolved.
4) Using a pipette, squeeze the colouring into the pipette bulb.
5) Drop a few drops of colouring onto the starting line of the chromatography paper.
6) Let the chromatography paper dry completely.
7) Prepare a salt mixture of 0.1% for the solvent by adding 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt to 3 cups of water. (1g of salt to 1L of water)
8) Mix until the salt has completely dissolved.
9) Pour a small amount of the salt mixture into the bottom of a glass or jar.
10) Place filter paper in the glass with salt water so that it is standing up and the bottom is barely touching the surface of the salt solution.
11) Observe the salt water rising up the paper by capillary action until it is almost at the top.
12) Remove the paper from the glass and mark with a pencil where the solvent stopped.
13) Let the paper dry completely.
14) Repeat steps 1-13 with the rest of the Skittles of varying colours, as well as the other types of candies if time permits.
15) Record the observations on how the colors run on the chromatography paper and the solutes separated.
16) Repeat the experiment using M&M's, Nerds or other dyed candy and compare the colours which had run on the chromatography paper.

Location: Science Laboratory
Environment: Under room temperature
Time: Anytime

Dependent variable: Number of sweets
Independent variable: Type of sweets
Controlled variable: Colouring and dyes used in the sweets

Managing controlled variables:
We are unable to control this variable as this depends on each individual sweet as they have different kinds of colouring and dyes.

Experimental setup:
Prepare the necessary equipment such as the Bunsen burner, along with other materials needed. Place 3 candies of the same type and colour into a test tube. Also prepare strips of chromatography paper which have starting lines labelled using a pencil.

Data collection procedures:
1) Record data in a systematic table and format, clearly and concisely. Also, for as much as possible, with no experimental errors.
2) Analyse the data recorded from the experiment and come up with an appropriate conclusion.
3) Compile all data and conclusions in a document clearly and hence, evaluate the whole experiment carried out.

Precautions to minimize errors:
1) Do not use a pen when drawing on the chromatography paper, to ensure that no pen ink can spread across and smudge, which in turn affects the result. Instead, use a pencil to draw the starting line above the surface of the solvent.
2) Do not drop the coloured water derived from the sweets too close to each other on the chromatography paper to prevent any unnecessary mixing between colour samples.
3) Use a solvent in which the ink components are soluble, for reliable results to be obtained.

Data Presentation and Analysis:
Before adding the solvent

After adding the solvent
As seen from the results in the second photo, there has not been a rise in the dye from the Skittles and it has not separated into its different components. The solvent has failed to separate the dyes into their individual components and therefore, we conclude that this solvent is unable to allow us to obtain our desired results of seeing the solutes separate. 

Discussion and Conclusion:
Findings of the investigation
After using salt solution as our solvent to separate the solutes, we found out that it did not actually work and the dyes were not separated. Instead, the salt solution simply travelled up the chromatography paper without separating any dye. The dyes remained at the starting line, which was drawn with a pencil. Even though the dyes were given time to dry and cool down after burning, they were still not separated by the solvent.

Therefore, we have tried carrying out the chromatography test again with other solvents, of which included ethanol, hexane as well as propanol. Unfortunately, the results were of no difference from those of the salt solution. The colouring from the sweets could not be separated into its components, hence there were no specific findings derived from the experiment.  

Observable trends and relationships from the data
There were no observable trends and relationships from the data as the experiment did not turn out as we had expected. The solvents did not separate the dyes into their components.

Factors that may have affected the outcomes of research
A possible factor could be the fact that the choice of solvent were not suitable for the separating of dyes from melted candies. The salt solvents might not have had the ability to separate dyes due to its components, hence the dyes did not travel up the chromatography paper. Perhaps if we had had the chance to use ethyl acetate instead which was recommended under advice, there would probably be a higher chance of obtaining positive results.

Another factor could be the duration used to burn the candies, and the thickness of the melted candy mixture. The melted candies might have been too thick or too diluted, thus resulting in it not being able to rise.

The last contributing factor could have been that the colouring from candies being not able to separate into its components through chromatography in the first place. Hence, all our attempts with the different solvents which we have tried using were unsuccessful. 

How the results will contribute to a better tomorrow
The results obtained could benefit people in our society, as the components of the dye would clearly show how much artificial colouring is used in the sweets, which could be detrimental to our health. It would serve as a warning to people to remind them that excessive sweet intake could harm themselves over a period of time.

Recommendations for future research
Future researchers could improve the experiment by not just finding the components of the dyes, but also go in depth into the candy's sugar level, to further prove how harmful excessive intake of sweets can be. They could research on the sugar levels of different candies in comparison to healthy snacks, hence giving people an insight on snacking on small treats and the harm done to their bodies and health.

References and Acknowledgement:
Spangler, S. (n.d.). Skittles Chromatography. In Colorful Candy Kitchen Science. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from