The Two Faces of Bacteria

Twice a month, highschoolers from Kokomo Area Schools at Home (KASH) gather here at Criterion Water Labs to study organisms as small as a single cell and as large as an ecosystem. Today’s topic was the kingdom Monera, which contains both beneficial and pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria.

The students drew the basic structures of a bacterium, from the capsule that insulate it from its environment to the DNA nestled inside that encodes its genetic information. Using a stereoscope, an instrument that magnifies opaque objects to make them easier to see, they examined pond water collected from a variety of sources. In the weeks ahead, they will observe the bacteria’s ability to use different food sources by introducing dirt, hay, or straw into their samples and reexamining the samples at their next class.

The students discussed the ways in which bacteria impact humans, either by producing foods such as cheese and yogurts, or by causing intensely harmful bacterial infections, such as the Black Plague.

Modern historians estimate that the Black Plague claimed over 20 million lives, nearly one-third of the world’s population at that time.

The students discussed how epidemics are often prevented today by returning to God’s commands about cleanliness and quarantine, and by using vaccinations.

 

Water, Water Everywhere

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Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
– “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

Water is everywhere–in fact, it’s so omnipresent that we often take it for granted. One place where we often forget its presence is in literature.

Take some of the famous works of literature, such as Huckleberry Finn and The Wizard of Oz. Have you ever thought about the role that water plays in each story?

In Huckleberry Finn, the Mississippi River is Jim’s ticket to freedom. Its steady flow connects a country deeply divided by the issue of slavery, an issue that divides Huck’s own mind. While those he respects most have told him that slaves are subhuman, Huck’s own experience shows him another, very different story. Jim has a deep love for his family, works to shield Huck from the harshness of his world, and is willing to risk everything to to live as a free man. Mark Twain uses Huck and Jim’s journey down the Mississippi to take us on a journey of our own, where we as well as Huck must decide what it means to be human.

Water plays a much different role in The Wizard of Oz. The story opens in a tired farm in Kansas where the ground is so dry that its lips have cracked open, desperate for water. In a few terrifying moments, a tornado carries a tiny girl named Dorothy, her dog, and her home to the mysterious land of Oz. A witch so wicked as to have her wickedness attached to her very name has intimidated the local population to the point that only an outsider can stand up to her. At this witch’s word, the perfume of beautiful flowers becomes deadly intoxicating, monkeys become flying assassins, and the Wizard himself melts like putty! Only an outsider, little Dorothy, can stand against her. While all Dorothy wants is to get home, she’s thrust into an adventure where her weapon is… that’s right: water! The film version of this classic story extends the story arc even further, showing rain coming to Dorothy’s farm–delivering her family from something even more evil than the Wicked Witch: the evil domination of drought!

The next time you’re reading a book or watching a movie, look for the role that water plays. You may be surprised at what you find!

Can you think of a common story where water plays a significant part?

Where’s the Vinyl Chloride Plume?

When a vinyl chloride plume was detected in Howard County, the burning question was, “Where’s it at?”

Good question!

To make it easier to measure the distance from your house or business to the center of the vinyl chloride plume, we’ve posted an interactive map on our website.

A screenshot of the map is shown below.

plume-center-with-address-bar

Click here to access the interactive map!

Note: vinyl chlorides are a subset of volatile organic carbons (VOCs). As you research this phenomenon, you may see either compound listed.

References:
1. Gerber, C. (2015, March 28). Tainted Water. The Kokomo Tribune. pp. A1, A10.

2. Indiana Department of Environmental Management (2015) HRS Documentation Record for the Kokomo Contaminated Ground Water Plume, (EPA Docket ID EPA-HQ-SFUND-2014-0624).

3. United State Environmental Protection Agency (2015, July 14). Vinyl Chloride. Retrieved from the Environmental Protection Agency website: http://www.epa.gov/ttnatw01/hlthef/vinylchl.html

4. Pant, P., & Pant, S. (2010). A Review: Advances in Microbial Remediation of Trichloroethylene (TCE). Journal of Environmental Sciences, 22(1), 116-126.

5. Kleopfer, R. D. et al. (1985). Anaerobic Degradation of Trichloroethylene in Soil. Environmental Science & Technology, 19(3), 277-280.

Thank You for Celebrating with Us!

The best part of any adventure is the people you meet.

When we began Criterion Water Labs, LLC in 2009, we had no idea where our path would take us or who we would meet along the way.

Now, nearly six years years later, we realize it’s all been worth it because of you, our Criterion Water Labs family!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

 

 

Here’s some of what was happening behind the scenes…

 

 

There are so many ways that you have helped us on this journey. We wish we could thank each of you by name! Here are just a few of the special people we would like to thank:

Jesus Christ, for redeeming us and giving us the strength to pursue life with gusto!

Carla Leitner, Hazel Aldridge, Mary Otte, Patti Leftridge and their families for  believing in us and for continually reminding us of the big picture!

Eli and Beth Ihms and Tida and Phil Barclay for brainstorming with us and supporting us!

Joe and Andi Russeau from Precision Analytical Laboratory for helping us find a building and help us get it working order, strategize, and help us keep our eyes on the goal!

Brad Johnson and Susan from Investwell Electronics for welcoming us and sharing some of the building’s rich history with us!

Glenda Trevillion and Yen Dang for stepping up to the plate to serve at a minute’s notice!

Wendy Nelson for maintaining our link with humanity during our move. Your gifts of food and friendship nourished our bodies and our souls!

Barney and Marianne Shayne for being rocks of friendship!

Terry and Sharon Watson for sharing their wisdom and helping us think through difficult choices!

Richard and Peg Smiley for their thoughtful gift of an ice chopper and dedicated ice chopping!

Jerri-Ann Houser for her upbeat attitude and encouraging words, especially in the days leading up to our opening!

Rebekah Leitner for her thoughtful questions, flexible creativity, and insightful encouragement!

Our Tuesday night flock group for their excitement and flexibility!

Bill Rutherford for his faithful volunteer service at You Be the Chemist events!

Bill and Wanda Martin from Martin Brothers TV and Appliances and our church family at Russiaville Community Church for their prayers and overwhelming support!

Jake and Betty Deurloo for giving us emergency help in our hour of need!

Michael Kraner for cheerfully battling the elements to hoist innumerable boxes and equipment the day before our move-in!

Peggy Hosea from the Purdue Center for Regional Development for her friendship and for her kind gift of dinner as crunch time came cracking!

Jenny Beals from Jenny Beals and Associates for persistently searching Kokomo for business property and helping us negotiate the process!

Don and Linda Burris from Ambassador Carpet Cleaning for coaxing stubborn stains out of our carpet!

Jim Horton from HyTek Home Inspections for making our signs and for repairing our side door and windows!

Kris Airgood from Thermodyn, Inc. for his team’s exceptional electrical work on a tight schedule!

The staff at Rozzi’s Catering for their absolutely delicious lasagna!

Dave Howard from Howard Print Shop for printing our new and updated business cards!

All of our friends from the Kokomo Business Network for their support, especially Deb Mumaw from Sam’s Club and J.R. Renkenberger from Marketing Mercenary and Best Property Marketing!

Marla Miller from Kostrewa & Associates Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. and Karen McCoy from the Kokomo Chamber of Commerce for planning a very fun ribbon cutting!

Joey Kimbrough from Burnett’s Auto Sales and Service for sharing his insights and giving us ideas for our next steps!

Monty Henderson, Ruth Sampson, Mike McCool, and Jolene Boyles from the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance, Hoosier Heartland Indiana Small Business Development Center, and Inventrek Technology Park for their encouragement and support as we hatched ideas and finally spread our wings!

Bennett, Mindy, and Billy for their willingness to dive into challenges during their internships through Indiana University Kokomo!

Dr. Marcia Gillette and Dr. Christian Chauret from Indiana University Kokomo for their courageous partnership with us in many educational endeavors, from You Be the Chemist to the Howard County Science Fair and beyond!

We also thank all of our customers for your business and encouragement during our transition!

Criterion Water Labs Has a New Home!

It’s official! Criterion Water Labs has a new home! After searching the Kokomo area for just the right spot, we found a great building at the corner of Firmin and Lafountain. We will be open for business at our new location on Monday, February 2nd.

Come enjoy lunch and explore our new building at our Open House on Monday, February 2nd from 11AM to 1PM!

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What’s changing?

Our address. It will now be 329 E. Firmin Street. Yes, we’re still on Firmin Street! It’s just over the railroad tracks from the Inventrek building.

It will be much easier to drop off a sample! Our dropoff location will be on the ground floor in our new location. No stairs, no hallways, just open the door and you’re in our new space!

What’s staying the same?

Our hours. We will be open 8:30AM–5:30PM from Monday to Thursday, and by appointment Friday through Sunday.

Our service. Our goal is to meet your needs in a friendly, efficient way. We appreciate your business and we look forward to serving you from our new location!

“You Be the Chemist” Invites Students to Investigate Science

A child stares wonderingly at rows of apple slices. Some are dark and discolored, completely unappetizing. Others are firm and look as if they were just cut. But they are assured that all of the apples were cut at the same time.

How is this possible?

It’s all about their chemical treatment. Some of the apple slices did not receive any treatment and were simply exposed to air. Others were soaked in baking soda or lemon juice.

As the students discuss which of the apple slices held up the best, they gradually see that science is more than a set of facts learned from a textbook. The tools it provides can help answer important questions that affect everyday life.

Across the room, students interact with scientists and engineers specializing in chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, and other disciplines as they investigate surface tension, make a polymer, find how surface drainage affects wildlife, and learn how scientists can use paper to filter out even the tiniest of particles.

These and other elementary and middle school students are part of an event cosponsored by several local organizations and companies, as well as the You Be the Chemist program and the Howard County Science Fair. The goal of the event is to allow students to learn about science by doing experiments themselves and interacting with scientists.

The students may not yet understand the new word “polymer.” They may not remember exactly why oil and water are so different. However, there’s one thing they understand very clearly: science can explain things, and you’re never too young to start investigating it.

Professors from Indiana University Kokomo, including Dr. Marcia Gillette, Dr. Hisako Masuda, Dr. Ashley Duffitt, Dr. Christian Chauret, and Dr. Peter Tupa participated, as well as Sarah Brichford and Greg Lake from the Howard County Stormwater District, and Dr. David and Ann Ihms from Criterion Water Labs. Emily Bargerhuff from Haynes International and Dr. Marcia Gillette from Indiana University Kokomo also volunteered with the library’s scavenger hunt and invited students to participate in the upcoming science fair.

You Be the Chemist is a program that invites K-8 students to explore science conceptually and experimentally. In addition to providing resources for parents and other educators to do hands-on science experiments with students, students in grades 5-8 can also take part in an annual competition called “You Be the Chemist.” This competition challenges students to not only learn chemistry facts, but also be able to apply what they know. It will be held at IUK on March 7th.

Another opportunity that allows students to direct their scientific curiosity in new ways and at their own pace is the Howard County Science Fair. The fair is open to all Howard County students in grades 5-12. Students choose a project, do original research, and then present their findings at the fair, which will be held on Saturday, February 14, 2015.

To learn more about You Be the Chemist or the Howard County Science Fair, contact Dr. Marcia Gillette at (765) 455-9369 or mgillett@iuk.edu, or contact Ann Ihms at (765) 438-1228 or water@criterionwaterlabs.com.

Science Fair Workshop This Friday

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“Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.”
– Albert Einstein

A science fair opens the door of the science lab and ushers students in. Instead of saying, “Don’t try this at home,” it says, “Here’s your chance to discover something!”

Students from 5th to 12th grade are invited to take part in the annual Howard County Science Fair on Saturday, February 14, 2015. This all-day event gives students the opportunity to investigate a scientific question and present their findings to a series of judges.

There’s no better way to find out more about the Science Fair than by attending a workshop on Friday, November 7th!

What: Live science demonstrations done by scientists, engineers, and professors
When: 4-5:30PM, Friday, November 7th
Where: Kokomo-Howard County Public Library South (1755 E. Center Rd., Kokomo)

Also, from 5:30 to 8:00PM that same evening, the Howard County Science Fair Initiative will host an information table in the lower level of the Main Library (220 N. Union St., Kokomo).

To learn more, see the Howard County Science Fair website, contact Dr. Marcia Gillette at 765.455.9369 or mgillet@iuk.edu, or contact Ann Ihms at 765.438.4995 or water@criterionwaterlabs.com.

A Hidden Wellspring

092014-handcrafted-wellDuring a trip to Missouri, our hostess at a bed and breakfast pulled back an old plywood board and showed us the old, deep well hiding underneath. Rough stones had been carefully arranged into stunningly smooth walls that ran deep into the ground. The moist soil glistened in the tiny glints of sunlight that reached its depths.

It wasn’t until I looked back at the photographs that I began to appreciate the level of craftsmanship that had been invested in that well. Instead of slapping stones this way and that, the man who made this well had carefully selected each stone and put it in its place.

In the end, because of his meticulousness, a project of necessity had become an object of beauty.

Isn’t that like life–on our best days?

At times we take on our duties with a grimace and try to dispose of them in as little time as possible. As we finish, we sigh with relief and rush on to the next duty to mark off our list.

But on those special days, those days when we see that the task in front of us is an opportunity to invest ourselves in something with larger import than the passing moment, our perspective changes.

We still realize the necessity that’s driving us on (after all, everyone needs water), but instead of throwing this chunk of frustration here and that slab of opposition there, we see the larger purpose in what we’re doing. Not only are we acquiring the material things we need to sustain our life; we’re also creating beauty with our hands and our minds.

What a double gift that wellmaker gave.

Chemists for a Day

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Students from grades K-8 gathered at Criterion Water Labs for an afternoon of scientific discovery on October 10th. They learned about mixtures, practiced writing chemical formulas, and–most importantly–made their very own goofy putty.

This workshop was part of a program called You Be the Chemist in which students from grades K-8 are introduced to chemistry concepts and students in grades 5-8 are invited to take part in an annual competition to test their knowledge of chemistry.

If your child would be interested in participating in You Be the Chemist, contact us to reserve a spot! The next workshop will be held Friday, November 7th, 2014 from 4-5:30PM at the South Branch Library (1755 E. Center Rd., Kokomo).

Last but not least, if you’d like to make goofy putty, follow the directions below:

Goofy Putty

 Supplies

  • 2 disposable cups or bowls
  • 2 spoons
  • water
  • white glue
  • food coloring (optional)
  • borax

Directions

  1. Put 1 teaspoon of water into your cup or bowl. Add one teaspoon of white glue and mix well. Note: food coloring can be added to this mixture to make colored putty.
  2. In another cup or bowl, create your borax solution. Mix one teaspoon of borax with four teaspoons of water. Stir well. The solution will become saturated, so not all of the borax will dissolve.
  3. Add one teaspoon of the borax solution to your original cup of glue and water. Stir for 60 seconds.
  4. Remove the substance and knead it with your hands for one to two minutes.

 

Celebrate Science Indiana

Should you start with the robots? Or the cricket spitting? That’s just one of the choices offered by Celebrate Science Indiana–an annual event that invites people of all ages to explore science and have fun doing it.

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum, the Indiana State Museum, and industry leaders such as Dow and Lilly will be hosting interactive exhibits and explaining the science involved.

Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Sid the Science Kid
  • Live entertainment
  • Robots
  • Hero Zone
  • Radio Disney
  • Cricket spitting
  • …and more!

This year’s event will run from 10AM to 5PM on Saturday, October 4, 2014 at the Marsh Blue Ribbon Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds (1202 E. 38th St., Indianapolis). More good news? It’s absolutely free.

Check out the details at www.celebratescienceindiana.org!

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