Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Choose your holiday science:

  • Measuring, mixing, and cooking/baking yummy feasts = math, chemistry, heat transfer
  • Football = biomechanics/exercise science
  • Napping = physiology
  • The first Thanksgiving feast and why it was so important = gardening/nutritional sciences (plus a little bit of history - yes, I'm also a US history nerd, shhh don't tell my engineering friends)
  • Picking out and setting up Christmas tree = forestry?  (ok now I'm stretching)
Either way you choose to celebrate, have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I am a mechanical engineer, but I have an abnormal fear of machines.  They are loud and you can cause some serious damage if you use them wrong.  I avoided the shop in undergrad since I wasn't really passionate about building Baja or Formula cars, and that was the main thing going on down there.  I also couldn't fit the super duper shop class in my schedule in grad school.  I have quite the learning curve for making my curriculum visions reality.  It makes me nervous to join a machine shop, like when you are new to a gym to workout and you feel like everyone is looking at and judging you.  However, I'm looking forward to learning something new and creating something great for the kids!

Wish me luck!

** Thinking about my abnormal fear, I guess I should be more sensitive to J's fears of lawn mowers/gardeners and construction noise and workers.

Edited 2/26/12 to correct spelling error that was bugging me

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More rockets

We're a little obsessed over here with things that fly, especially if we can make them fly.

Making science out of straw rockets is super easy (and inexpensive) especially when you are given wrapped straws.  It does get pretty messy and can be considered wasteful.

We stopped by our favorite toy store after J's recent haircut.  I went on a search to find the coolest science-y toy under $5.  We found Squeeze Rockets.  The theory is the same as the straw rockets.  The air (this time from squeezing the bulb) pushes against the foam piece, causing it to fly off in the air!

Things to try:
*Squeeze hard and then squeeze soft.  What happens after the different types of squeezes?
*Squeeze the bulb, then place the rocket on.  Can you make the rocket fly off when that happens?
*Aim for objects (I don't recommend shooting at people).  Projectile Motion = FUN Science.
*Shoot the rocket towards a fan.  What happens?
*Shoot the rocket from behind a fan (into the jet stream).  What happens?

Hopefully, when things settle down around here, I can find some ways to make these type of launchers at home.  A quick search suggested 20 oz soda bottles as the launcher.  I was hoping for something more handheld, but I'll have to give it a try in the near future.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Busy Bee

I forgot to mention that I received the Pepsi Refresh Grant funds last month!  I made my first purchase this past week, a robotic arm, which I'll encase and use in a robot unit with the kids.  I'm pretty excited since robots are what got me interested in being an engineer at 8 yrs old.  Maybe, these kids can make up their minds at 3 yrs old.  That would be so cool.

I'm planning on purchasing a website design program in the next week or two and starting to make an online science wonderland.

I apologize for the lack of posts.  We went on a quick trip two weekends ago and caught something on the flight.  It's been passed around.  Hopefully, we're on the mend.  Germs = science too!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Straw Rockets

The waitress was asking for it by putting a handful of straws in front of a group of boys.

However, being a little mischievous (and bored) myself, I started it.

This is also for every action (blowing into the straw), there's an equal and opposite reaction (the straw flies off - preferably hitting an unsuspecting friend/family member).

Note, it works best if you take off one end of the straw wrapper gently (ie, not pounding the straw into the table to get it out of the wrapper).  We ended up reusing the straw wrappers so we weren't as wasteful.

Things to try:

  • Vary the amount of pressure through the straw.  Blow harder, blow softer.  What happens?
  • Aim and shoot at a target - preferably not at people's faces.
  • Try blowing through big straws and little straws with wrappers.  Do you see any differences?  Why do you think that could be?
Science is fun!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Candy Math

I am one proud Mama right now.  My child can subtract!

After bribing my child with Halloween candy in order to get him to eat his dinner, we had an unexpected math lesson.  Here's how it went.

The lesson first started as J wanted to cut his sandwich in half.  Yay, fractions!

Then in order to get Tootsie Rolls, he had to eat both halves (aka, all) of his sandwich.  There were no complaints, and this was the quickest I've seen him down a PB&J.

After acknowledging the completion of his dinner, I asked if he'd like 2 or 3 mini Tootsie Rolls (a lesson in greater than/less than).  He chose 3 (of course, he is my child).  I unwrapped three Tootsie Rolls and placed them on his dinner plate.  We counted them.  He immediately scarfed one down.  Without asking, he pointed out that he had 2 Tootsie Rolls.  Awwwwww.  Down went the second Tootsie Roll, and he stated about his one left.  Yay, math!

Sugar is good for something!I am one proud Mama right now.  My child can subtract!