Alien Elements is an activity developed by Learning Undefeated to help students explore the field of data science and how it can be applied to the studies of chemistry.
Students will use the physical and chemical properties of alien elements to group and sort them into a table that conveys information about relevant trends and patterns, very similar to Periodic Table. Students will also be introduced to ideas of how data science can be predictive through the use of certain analytical tools. In this session, students will model a generative adversarial network (GAN), a type of machine learning that utilizes two neural networks. Students will act as the generators and interact with a discriminator, a computer program that has been trained to identify patterns in a given data set about molecular compounds. Students will use the feedback from the discriminator to propose possible compounds that could exist but are not present in the discriminator’s data set. This is an example of synthetic data generation, a tool that is becoming more and more important in science today.
While GANs have many uses in science, it’s more commonly known for its applications with images and videos, specifically with deepfakes. Students will view examples of deepfakes and discuss potential dangers of this technology as well as discuss how government agencies, like DARPA and the NSA, are working to detect and label deepfakes to prevent misinformation.
Students will be able to
- Manipulate and interpret graphs to find trends and patterns in element properties
- Create a visualization in the form of a table of the patterns and trends identified
- Model the generator side of a GAN to produce viable new molecular compounds
- Discuss image, video, and audio GANs and deepfakes and the pros and cons of them
Next Generation Science Standards Connections
HS-PS1-1. Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
HS-PS1-2. Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties.
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills Connections
CHEM.5.A Explain the use of the chemical and physical properties in the historical development of the Periodic Table.
CHEM.5.C Interpret periodic trends, including atomic radius, electronegativity, and ionization energy, using the Periodic Table.
Virginia Science Standards of Learning Connections
CH.2C. Trends within groups and periods including atomic radii, electronegativity, shielding effect, and ionization energy.
Activities to Gather Evidence
Viewpoints on whether Helium should be in group 2 or 18 in the Periodic Table of Elements
Dr. Wil Corvey, program manager for DARPA’s Semantic Forensics (SemaFor), discusses how the program goes beyond detection to delve deeper into understanding the intent behind manipulated media and how their team is creating tools available for today’s analysts.