Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Ask the Experts

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Ask the Experts

Article excerpt

A Note from the Column Editor

Sadly, this is our final "Ask the Experts" column. In the wake of exponential internet growth and increased classroom access, we believe you have the power to teach students to research questions directly and to reach out with them yourself to professionals in universities, government, and industry. I asked the journal's editors if I could be the expert this final month, as I always found myself resisting the urge to answer questions as they passed over my desk. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve my three-year term editing these pages, and I look forward to helping NSTA and The Science Teacher with new projects. Good luck to you and your students as you begin the new school year, and keep in touch with me at

Q Why is chocolate bad for dogs?

Kevin Vaughn

NSTA Student Chapter


Middle Tennessee State University

Murfreesboro, TN

A Dogs are especially sensitive to a chemical chocolate contains--theobromine.

Dogs metabolize the stimulant theobromine more slowly than humans, which affects their heart, central nervous system, and kidneys. Of course, everyone knows in order to remain healthy, dogs require a steady diet of homework.

Q Where does the color go when paper fades after sun exposure?

Sharon Jeffrey


Plymouth South Middle School

Plymouth, MA

A The color apparent in paper is due to color subtraction. In the wide spectrum of incident light, certain wavelengths are absorbed by pigments in the paper more than others. When the energy of sunlight, in tandem with chemicals already in the paper, breaks these pigments down, a broader spectrum of light is reflected, approaching the blend of white light seen in faded paper.

Q How do you measure weight in space?

Mary Ann Lindahl


Los Alamos High School

Los Alamos, NM

A On a very large scale. Get it? I think you really mean to ask about measuring mass, the amount of matter in something, rather than weight, the varying force of celestial pull upon mass. To measure mass, you use an inertial balance. Mount the object on an oscillating spring of known elasticity. The period of oscillation is mathematically related to the mass. Astronauts do this affixed to a seat that looks somewhat like a sled or an amusement park ride. The greater the mass, the longer the period of oscillation. …

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