An international network of/for intelligent organisms
It seems here in the UK, slime is a bit of a craze at the moment. Although this is the PVA /Borax kind of green play slime.
Class A who are my shining stars, naturally have taken to Physarum with open hearts. But after some nagging we did some green PVA slime, not really a wasted lesson as it turned out.
Keep in mind this class is between 10 and 11 years old, its very small with only 8 kids in. Considered disruptive and no engaging, they are separated from the main class most of the time.
For me these kids have been fantastic, absolutely take on any challenge given, full of questions and ideas. So normal hand over of Physarum, instructions of care given. I am there 3 times a week for a couple of hours around the school, i normally find an excuse to pop into that class.
One of the instructions given, was keeping them out the light as much as they can. I explained why, I got question after question and did my best to answer. I also showed some pictures on the board from here. I mentioned the photographic technique of timed frames.
I also mentioned it might not be a good idea, mainly because I cant guarantee when I will be about, and the problems of agar drying out etc etc.
They have jumped on this, they except its likely someone will forget the petri lid. So the solution to them is obvious.... Find something to keep the agar hydrated! Initial reaction was run obvious candidates through my head, decided most are likely toxic to Physarum.
But its a not an option with this group, they are determined! So I am going to let them run with this for a bit. they have set up a Physarum Lunch time club, so not much choice but to try and steer them a little without damping down the enthusiasm.
Some of the suggestions put forward are just non starters, but with this class you cant just say no it wont work. It dosnt work that way with them, so instead I have designated 2 members from an older class, these are monitors.
Rather than use Physarum straight away on the various mixes they have come with, I have given them petri dishes and some safe e.coli. The idea is they make the slime/medium or whatever, then first test is does it kill the e.coli.
The 2 monitors are very very good, they are more than capable of the basics. So I go in and put the sealed dishes in the incubator, then we plan to evaluate. I have no choice but do a PVA/Borax medium, although I am ok with this, the e.coli wont take on this, so it will be eliminated before Physarum gets near it.
Some of the suggestions however, are not so bad. We have done alginate yeast beads before, one suggestion is a adaptation of that. Roughly speaking its alginate with just a thin chloride skin on it.
Obviously some agar etc added. Actually I am curious where they go with this, yes i do give them massive leeway. Just about everyone has written this group off, I dont intend to stifle the enthusiasm with them. In all honesty this group academically can be a struggle, but they are a joy to do science with.
I havnt had any behavior problems with them, they have had everything from stick insects to fish! In that class, but Dogs Vomit Slime is hands down favorite with them. If anyone is interested in the results, i will post them up as they come in. Including agar ice cream!!
But I cant knock a class who said, why not use dry mist!! Just so you know, Dry mist is what they call those vivarium humidity devices, the water vapor is produced by ultrasonics, its so fine that it feels dry almost. We have used it for other things, so with a humidity sensor we will give it a go.
Water beads for plants is another, TBH I am not sure about that one. Maybe with enough agar on top....
Water beads work really well - I've done time lapses with them,
I was doubtful when they suggested it, but fair enough then, water beads are a go. They also have this 'mix', not sure whats in it, no one will tell me yet, smells almost like Almonds to me. Physarum seems ok on it.
You just know i am not going to like whats in it when i get told lol.