Hooked on Science: What's in your blood?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Did you know black scientist Dr. Charles Drew is known for his research in blood plasma and he organized the world's first blood bank? Using a few ingredients from the kitchen you can learn about the components of blood.

Materials

* Large bowl

* Mixing spoon

* Corn syrup

* Mini marshmallows

* Red Hots

* Candy sprinkles

Instructions

NOTE: Add each ingredient according to how much of each blood component makes up the total blood volume.

STEP 1: Pour the corn syrup into the large bowl. The corn syrup represents the plasma, which is 55 percent of the total blood volume.

STEP 2: Pour the Red Hots into the large bowl and use the spoon to mix the ingredients. The Red Hots represent the red blood cells, which are 44 percent of the total blood volume.

STEP 3: Pour the marshmallows into the large bowl and, using the spoon, mix the ingredients. The marshmallows represent the white blood cells, which are about 0.5 percent of the total blood volume.

STEP 4: Pour the candy sprinkles into the large bowl and use the to spoon mix the ingredients. The candy sprinkles represent the platelets, which are about 0.5 percent of the total blood volume.

Explanation

The average adult has 5 liters of blood in their body. As you discovered by doing this experiment, your blood contains many components. Plasma (corn syrup) is a pale yellowish fluid in which the blood cells are suspended. Red blood cells (Red Hots) travel through your body delivering oxygen and removing waste. White blood cells (marshmallows) are responsible for the defense system in the body. Platelets (candy sprinkles) are irregularly shaped, colorless bodies that are present in blood. Their sticky surface lets them, along with other substances, form clots to stop bleeding.

Jason Lindsey is a Science Outreach Educator with Hooked on Science. Check out his website Hooked On Science at hooked onscience.org for webcasts and experiments that might get you hooked on science. Send him your science questions at jlindsey@hookedonscience.org. More science experiments can be found at www.semissourian.com.

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