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Bronxville Middle School Students Perform Annual 'Sludge' Tests

Bronxville Middle School students performed a series of laboratory experiments that required them to separate different substances during the annual “sludge” test.
Bronxville Middle School students performed a series of laboratory experiments that required them to separate different substances during the annual “sludge” test. Photo Credit: Contributed
The students were tasked with separating the substances in their sample and employed a series of techniques to determine the characteristic properties of each pure substance.
The students were tasked with separating the substances in their sample and employed a series of techniques to determine the characteristic properties of each pure substance. Photo Credit: Contributed

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- Eighth-grade students at Bronxville Middle School recently performed a series of laboratory experiments that required them to separate different substances during the annual “sludge” test, a tradition at the school for more than 40 years.

At the beginning of the weeklong collaboration, the students received a sample of “sludge,” which contained a mixture of liquid and solid components. They were tasked with separating the substances in their sample and employed a series of techniques to determine the characteristic properties of each pure substance, including boiling point, freezing and melting point, density and solubility according to a release from Bronxville Union Free School District.

“Some of the techniques they used are fractional distillation, filtering and straining, evaporating liquids and water displacement,” science teacher Jean Windels said. “We used temperature probes and a computer program to monitor the boiling points as well as lab equipment that the students chose to use.”

At the end of the experiments, the students in Windels'and Jennifer Zopp’s science classes submitted evidence of their conclusions in the form of calculations and graphs, the release said.

“They came up with their own plan and procedure for tackling the problem,” said Windels, who added that the project fostered the students’ critical thinking skills and allowed them to engage in self-directed learning. “They also kept a journal of their thoughts and ideas as they proceeded through the week.”

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