Tag Archives: science

Spider Silk 2014 Methods and Materials

 

A. Method of assembling the extractor.

The Silk Extractor, one of the 2 U.S. Patented devices under the Forman School’s Rainforest Project, is key to the process of the silk extraction. This highly effective device scratch-built by Forman Students, has only three main parts consisting of the box, crank and the “wheel”  This portable and compact piece of equipment is very easy to assemble. To start the assembly of the Silk Extract the handle (window crank) is attached to the rear of the box by screwing it in place. Once secure, the “wheel” consisting of eight cut arrow shaft’s placed in a circle (25.4cm).   Once both crank and “wheel” is secure, the Silk Extractor is now ready for the extraction process.

B.  Method for extraction

The method for the extraction of the Nephila Clavipes spider is also under the same protection of the US Patent of the Silk Extractor.  Before the extraction process begins, the three members of the Spider Silk team are given each individual jobs which are vital to the operation. Such jobs include, the handler which has the role of transporting the spider to and  from its web, and uses the “Hand-over-Hand” method to give the spider the sensation of falling; The Crank operator, which is responsible for counting the number of rotations used to silk each individual spider, and the operation of the Silk Extractor; the final job is the Computer Operator, who is responsible for keeping track of all the data throughout the expedition.
To start the extraction, the Spider Handler must carefully remove the Golden Orb Weaver spider from its web. Once the spider is situated on the arrow shafts, the spider  should lay its sticky disc. In order to extract the silk from the spider, the Crank Operator and the Spider Handler must coordinate strongly together because each spider behaves differently. The spider goes into the handlers hand. Then, the handler uses the “hand-over-hand” method to silk the spider. (This method is when the handler places their hands in a tilted down position in order to simulate the sensation of falling for the spider. The silk that is being extracted is the dragline silk. The silk comes out of the Major Ampullate gland. If executed properly the spider should produce silk.) At the same time, the Crank Operator begins the process of spinning with one hand, while the Computer Operator records the data being received.

Once the spider has finished silking, the Spider Handler returns the spider back to its web. After each spider, the following data is recorded; Number of rotations, length of silk, Color of silk, number of strands, Time of extraction, and Weather variables.

C. Methods for feeding

To ensure that variables are close to accurate as possible, the Spider Silk team has developed a method for feeding the spiders. This is vital the silk extracting process and shows that farming these spiders is easy so that a local farmer can perform the extraction technique.  In order to attract these insect, a black light is placed inside of a mesh laundry hamper. Once the light is in place, a dog collar is then positioned over the opening. When fully assembled, the Feeding Ring is hung low to the ground. Within 30 minutes the Feeding Ring is remove from the tree. With the insects caught, feed spiders with insects.  We mostly feed them moths. take insects and throw them into webs.     

D. Method for Logger Pro

In order to use the Logger Pro application. The application is opened. To start the data graph, the recorder types the strength and the elasticity of the silk. X is going to be strength and elasticity is going to by Y. based upon our field results, the recorder types in the data, into Logger Pro and makes a graph.

Date:
Time
Duration of session
# spider
Rotations
Color
Amount of silk
Temperature
Barametric Pressure
Wind Speed
Wind Direction
Rainfall
Luming/lux
Due Point  

E. Method for Employing Local Families.
Employing 2 local families to test what quantity of silk they can get.

F: Method for Light Meter

Going to be using a light meter to look at the amount of lumens that are hitting hte web and going to be measuring by Klux. this will be used to keep track of lumens hitting each web, and coordinating color of silk.

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Thank You Glacier Computer

Spider silk has received a new computer from Glacier Computer. Glacier lent us their T510K for when we trek down to the rainforest. This bad boy is loaded with Microsoft Windows Xp, can withstand temperatures from -4 to 113 fahrenheit and its shock absorption up to 40 G. We will be using the computer to input our data and will really help us when we are down in Costa Rica. A Big thank you to Glacier Computer! Much Appreciated!

Bird Team Introduction

Recently we have been working on our paper, and learning to set up and take down the nets. It’s not as easy as it looks!!! We are also working hard to memorize the 25 most common birds that we usually catch while down in the Costa Rica. We are also working to memorize the Hummingbirds for the project that was created last year with them. In this project we set up about six bird feeders all with different percentages of sugar in the water. We then sit and watch for birds and calculate how many males and females go to which feeders to figure out which consistency of sugar the Hummingbirds like the best. We have meet with our team leader Frank Gallo, and he has been teaching us the methods we need to use while down in the rainforest. He says it get cold down there! Can you believe that! The rainforest in Costa Rica gets cold at night! We are hoping, because it is dry season, that we won’t be rained out like last year. Wendy Welshans has also been working hard to get us prepared for the big trip, meeting every other day in class and also on tuesday nights. In some of the lectures we are learning about some of the tropical plants and arthropods and their secondary defense, so if you touch them or eat them, they could really harm you. It’s really scary, but it helps us be alert down there, so we are more careful about what we touch. We will keep keep our blog updated so don’t forget to keep checking in, and feel free to leave us comments about questions you have and to wish us luck!
Jenny, Melissa, and Allie!
2014 Bird Team

Methods and Materials 2014

As our departure day nears, project BT (Bioacoustics and Telemetry) is working every day to finalize our methods and materials.  We have come up with multiple new ways of recording that we will be trying at the Forman School base which will give us new measurable variables for our research. Our team leader, Shawn Mullen, has bought multiple crickets from a pet store which are staying in an animal cracker jar. We have ordered corrugated plastic which we will use to make different environments for the crickets. The new parabolic mic that our wonderful Wendy Welshans was able to get us will be used to get stronger recordings from Orthoptera.  We may even be able to get a recording of a bullet ant’s call. After recordings are taken, they will be processed into Raven Software on a Glacier computer.  Thanks to the computer, we will be able to process recordings in the field without risk of loss to our data. The team has ordered multiple new field guides for identification. The telemetry equipment we will be using is mostly the same as it was last year, but we did add a very small collar so we can track more species.

Video

Save the Rainforest

Spider Silk 2013-2014

spider silk — the strongest natural fiber in the world. It is well-suited for many uses like medical sutures and gloves, bullet proof vests, and more. For this, the school has been granted two US patents!

Scientists used to think that the Golden Orb Weaver spider was cannibalistic and not farmable. So companies are spending millions of dollars bio-engineering their spider silk. But our research has found little cannibalistic tendencies and in fact, they prefer to live in tight colonies. We have been able to collect their silk at a fraction of the cost.

This is the future of technology. And the Forman School’s Rainforest Project, the only High School in the country with this intense of a program, is on the brink of making history.

Goals:

1. To get as much spider silk as possible.
2. To figure out when and why the silk is most strong.
3. Make a cottage industry for local ranchers abutting rainforest land.

Spider Silk Team

The silk from the Nephila clavipes spider is groundbreaking in many ways but nothing is more impressive than its strength; it isthe strongest natural fiber in the world. Its possible uses range from medical sutures to bulletproof vests. Most importantly, it’s a sustainable source of income for the people of Costa Rica as opposed to cattleranching, which will only last for a matter of years. The three of us along with our fearless leader Wendy Welshans plan to confirm our research concerning the connections between different environmental factors that would help us find the strongest silk possible.Spider Silk Team