Thursday, March 31, 2011


**Edited 4-10-11 to add shadow jumping video**

Not too long ago, we were complaining of 2 months of continuous rain.  We never saw the sun.  This week we jumped from low 60s and rain to almost 80 and SUNSHINE!!  (Being a Vegas kid, I really, really missed the sun).

I've been letting J play outside during what I call the "witching hours" - where if we are inside, he'd have a meltdown and I would say things that make me feel like the worst parent ever.  Usually, we're on a bike or playing with a ball.  Well, today, J took a break from his play to say "Hi!" to his shadow.  It's so fun to see how novel everything is to a little kid.

Things to try with your shadow:
*Run towards your shadow.  Then run away.
*Shadow puppets.
*Note the different lengths of the shadow during different times of the day.  Which time of the day casts the longest shadows?
*Jump/stomp on your shadow (J's favorite).  This is really fun to watch and can actually keep a kid occupied for quite some time.
*Jump/stomp on Mama's shadow.
*Stand in one spot and face north (your shadow should face north at noon if you are in the Northern Hemisphere) or in the same orientation (facing a particular tree).  Mark with sidewalk chalk where the top of your head is each hour.  Can you tell time with your shadow?  Possibly draw a sidewalk chalk clock.

Enjoy the sun!!  And, wear your sunscreen!! Wow, now I sound like a real mom.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sound Amplification

J loves hearing his voice and playing with tubes.

Why is your voice louder when you speak through a tube?
*The tube focuses the sound waves in one direction rather than the sound waves bouncing around the room before they hit your ear (my interpretation from the many websites explaining this concept to kids).
*This explanation is simple enough for kids.  However, there's a whole division of engineering focused on acoustics.  I also know how fun fluid dynamics could be, and so, I'm sure it's way more complicated than just "focusing the sound waves."  I just don't want mean comments.

Anyways, there's a lot that you can do with experimenting with tubes and sound!

What to try at home with your scientist:
*Speak into tubes of various sizes in length: toilet paper tube, paper towel tube, wrapping paper tube.
*Speak into tubes of various materials: paper towel tube, PVC pipe, plastic hosing.
*Speak into tubes of various diameters: PVC pipe would be good for this.  They sell it in varying diameters, and it's super cheap.  Or, maybe you have some lying around from various projects.
*Whisper, talk normally, talk loudly, sing songs, have fun!

Which makes the best amplification sound?
*I'm not telling.  Guess you'll have to experiment.

And for all you Mommies who need a muffler for your kid, Grief Speaks has just the solution: a scream box!**

**Again, we have yet to try this out.  I don't want to suggest anything that could make J squeal louder than he already does.  We're working on inside voices.  Maybe one day we'll try it, but he'll have to use it only outside (even if it muffles his scream).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Boom Box

This game about Moments, which J coined "Boom Box," turns out to be pretty fun.

I like to think of Moments as "What can you tip?"  The basic science behind this game is:

Moment = force x distance

Ultimately, the force applied at a distance rotates the object.

J taught me this lesson in moments upon climbing into the diaper box.  I figured to let him experiment but that I'd be there for spotting and encouragement.

Some fun things to try:

*Stand on your knees and push on the box.
*Stand up and push on the box (this changes the distance of the center of mass - the force - to axis of rotation)
*Try to rotate about long side of the box.  Is it the same or different as rotating over the short edge?
*Can you balance on the edge of the box?

Note, J was not harmed in his experiments.  Luckily, we have soft carpet.  I learned to start the camera, and then place J in the box.  This required a little more editing on my end.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Pi Day!

Too bad we don't celebrate Pi Day with a day off of work/school.  I'll be adding to this post this evening to tell you all about our Pi Day.

In the meantime, the Exploratorium has a few was to celebrate Pi Day that seem like fun.

Addition on 3/14:

Here's a rundown of the day:

We went to work and school.

I brought pi(e) to J's school for afternoon snack.  The kiddos LOVED blackberry pie!  We talked about the general shape of the pie (circle).  Then what we cut the pie pieces into (triangles) and where the blackberries come from (Oregon - needs lots of rain in the winter and a lot of sunshine in the summer).  Yummy!

As I walked into his classroom, J points to my shirt and shouts, "Pi!" Then I asked what was on his shirt, he said "Pi!" When Dada got home, J was excited to see his shirt had "Pi!" too!  Too bad he has yet to shout out a letter of our alphabet.

Then we had our traditional pie for dessert.  (sshhh, I had 3 slices today)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Prepping for Pi Day!

Yes!! It's my favorite time of the year! You guessed it, Pi Day! Every self-proclaimed nerd needs to celebrate. And really, who doesn't love an excuse to eat Pi(e)??

To fill you in, Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter (any circle). The number is irrational (no, not in a personality sense) and is, thus far, never ending. Most people round it to 3.14159.  It's used for calculating geometrical value for circles (area, surface area, volume).

Well, Pi Day happens to fall on 3/14 at 1:59 (get it? ~3.14159), and now, it's even recognized as a national holiday (it's also Einstein's birthday). In my circle (teehee), we typically celebrate at 1:59p because I've never been at my best at ~2am, even in my younger years.  Celebrations typically include wearing Pi decor and Pi(e) eating and all around being nerdy.  Sometimes, I convince friends and family that we should really party.

It's only right to pass on the tradition to the next generation.


The littlest members of society might find it hard to grasp a ratio of circle circumference to its diameter.  However, just the geometric shape of a circle is fun and an all-around good way to get them excited about Pi (eventually).

Go on a scavenger hunt for round, circular objects.

Coat the floor with butcher paper (or a lot of printer/recyclable paper):
Give your child some tempera/washable paint and have them make circular designs all over the paper with the objects they just collected.

Proudly display their artwork with a sign saying "Happy Pi Day!"

For the older kids:

Take a string of yarn and measure a circle's circumference.  Then see how many times you can measure the diameter of that circle using the string you used for the circle's circumference (should be a little more than 3 times).  You can do this with a cooled pie or a round pizza if you want an excuse to eat while conducting the experiment.

Make a necklace/bracelet out of 11 different color beads.  Assign each digit (0-9 and ".") its unique bead color and represent Pi to as many digits as you can (or as long as the kid's attention span lasts).

For everyone:

Eat Pi(e)!  And, enjoy your nerdiness!

You've been given enough time to prepare for proper celebrations next week.

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