Silk Scientists Visit Birches



As you know from the post of September 2, we are raising silk moths as part of our new STEAM curricular unit devoted to the Silk Road. We are grateful to our STEM Specialist for her initiative in inviting inspiring engineers and scientists to visit Birches and speak with our students. Fiorenzo Omenetto, Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University, and his team are focused on the technological reinvention of silk, specifically in the use of silk as a material for photonics and high technology applications. Prof. Omenetto, accompanied by two colleagues, visited Birches on October 2 and gave two riveting, age-appropriate presentations, one to the K/1 classroom and one to the 2/3/4 classroom.  These scientists were extraordinarily generous with their time, expertise, and gifts (a silk cocoon for every student). They explained the process of “reverse engineering,” melting cocoons into their original protein and water states and then re-forming the material into useful products. The products, unlike plastics, are biodegradable and have potentially revolutionary applications. The following TED talk by Prof. Omenetto gives you an idea of how reinvented silk might be used in the 21st century. It also reveals what an engaging speaker and teacher he is.


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