Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pi Day: you've been warned

Nerdy Holiday Alert!

As of right now, you have 2 weeks to plan your Pi Day celebrations.  Visit last year's run down of prepping for Pi Day and how our family celebrated Pi Day for some ideas.

Since I was a young kid, I always celebrated with pi(e).  My math club actually held a fundraiser a few weeks before so we can celebrate Pi Day the proper way.  It turned out to be a big thank you to the math tutors for volunteering their time rather than a true showing of nerdom.  However, I get very nostalgic towards Pi Day.  I feel it's a day your true nerd can shine, but I do feel that there should always be more to the holiday, like a figure, so to speak: Mathman, Pi-person, Circumference-to-diameter woman, maybe??  I'll keep thinking about it.  Whoever s/he is, s/he should come and leave calculators on desks, bake pi(e)s and pizza pi(e)s, and bless us with smarts till Pi Day of next year.

I'm excited that J is good at drawing circles now.  He's also really good at math, and he likes pie.  I'll probably end up bringing pie to his classroom again and talking a little bit about fractions: how many friends in the class, how many like or can eat pie, how many pieces should I cut the pie into, and as I serve it note when 1/4 and 1/2 of the pie is gone - how many people have received pie at that point?  Maybe, I can get them to recite Pi to a few decimal places.  That would be pretty nerdy.

I'd love to hear how you and  your family celebrate this nationally recognized holiday.

Nerdy Wedding

Photo by David G. Pickett
I went to a very small university for college.  The best part about it was that my professors had time for me and genuinely cared for my well being and future.  Yesterday, I received an email from my thermo prof/undergrad adviser checking-in and saying that she told the author of our thermo book about the pic back in the day and now the nerdy baby blog.

The story goes: As an engineering student, you have many hard classes/assignments that pull you together and closer to your classmates.  Big J and I were great friends starting the second semester of freshmen year, but it wasn't until junior year that we began dating.  We were spending lots of time together on homework, studying, projects, and procrastinating all of the above by talking about life, silly things, dreams, family background, etc.  Both of us were (well, still are) giant nerds, which was one of the traits I tell Big J that I love about him.  Fast forward two years.  We were still nerds and now planning a wedding.

Anyways, I said before, I was close to my profs, especially my thermo prof; I was close enough to babysit her two adorable kids all of the time.  Due to a recent move across country and two young kids at home, she couldn't make the trip to CA for the wedding.  I was sad, but I wanted her to know that she was there in spirit.  Luckily, our photographer was also in our thermo class and was totally in on my idea.  We decided to do a "Where's Waldo" type of game with the Thermo Book in the background of our wedding pictures.  The picture above was the most obvious one.  It was also behind us at the head table, on the DJ stand during our first dance, enjoying treats by the chocolate fountain, and our best man (also in our thermo class) gave his speech with the book in hand.  Ya, we're nerds, but it was fun.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Blue Pee, Not Really

Science fun with urine?  A new potty training technique?

We spent last weekend potty training J.  We also recently put a toilet tab in the tank to keep it cleaner longer; however, unlike our previous tabs, this one dyed our water blue.  I demonstrated how to use the potty, and when I stood up I heard a surprised,  "Mom, your pee is blue!"  I chuckled and responded, "No it's green, sweetie."  That's all I needed to jump start J to using the toilet!  J was so excited to make green water in the toilet (mixing yellow urine with blue water).  I love raising a little scientist.

Now, if you really want more potty experiments, eat lots of asparagus and see if your pee smells funny.  It seems as though not everyone has funny smelling urine after eating asparagus though, so see of you're a statistic.

Mayo Clinic has some answers to different color urine.  Food, drink, and medication can change urine color.  I'm not a big fan of changing diet to excessive to see what happens.  However, I did get called by day care once to be notified of J's bright red BM.  I had to admit that he had quite a bit of Red Velvet cake the day before.

**Please use good hygiene and wash your hands.
***I apologize to anyone offended by nature.  Everyone pees and poops, mommies just seem to talk about it more freely than others.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Balloon Rockets, part 2

As promised, Balloon Rockets, had a part 2.  Not only is it fun to watch balloons fly all over the room, it's fun to direct their path with strings.  What are we learning with this demo?  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction (Newton's Third Law).  The air escapes out of the balloon, propelling it forward.

  • Balloon(s) (balloon pump optional)
  • String (we used embroidery floss and plain old cheap yarn)
  • Straw piece
  • Scotch tape

  • Tie string to something immovable (we used a toy ride-in car and a plastic mug filled with laundry quarters, not shown).
  • Put straw piece on string.
  • Hold other end, making the string as tight as possible - slack in the string doesn't give good results.
  • Blow up balloon, twist and pinch the end. 
  • Attach balloon to straw with two pieces of Scotch tape.
  • Count down and let go.
  • Observe what happens!

  • Slack the rope (giving the other end of the string to the kid to hold will most likely do this).
  • Try different sized balloons, note the differences.
  • Try different shaped balloons, note the differences.
  • Try different sized straw pieces.  Which size works the best?

  • String the string across the room, above or out of the main walkway - or take down when not in use.  The string is very tempting for a young child and can cause injuries if not careful.
**Please excuse the apartment mess.  Our science workshop is in full gear.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentines Day Discussion

I'm a Valentine's Day Scrooge.  I like hearts.  I like pink (I really don't like red despite my Stanford background).  I like chocolates and candies.  I hate the hype of Valentine's Day and feeling obligated to show love and appreciation on that specific day.

Well, J liked the idea of Valentine's treats, but sharing time with the theme of LOVE came a day after Valentine's Day.  This morning, when we asked J what he'd like to share for V Day, he answered, "Valentine's Day is OVER!"  It's true.  I avoided mentioning that also means cheaper candies!  I was quite excited for his matter-of-fact statement solely for that reason.

We explained the theme and asked what he loves.  He answered, "Mommy!"  (awww)  I explained that I couldn't be at share time today.  He then shouted SCIENCE!  (nerd! yes!)   I also explained that it would be hard to share science with his limited share time, space, and attention given during share time (though he did wear one of his science shirts).  He settled on dinosaurs.  He loves dinosaurs and brought dinosaurs for his Valentine's Love Themed Share Time.  Sigh.

Also, when we got home, he wanted me to write "science" over and over on his magna doodle.  I pointed out his science shirt said "Science."  He was so excited.  I love my little scientist!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Homemade Squeeze Rocket Launchers

Tada - homemade squeeze rocket launcher:

Small water bottle
Small straw (comes in a pack of 50-100 for ~$1 in most grocery stores)
Bigger straw (recycled from a McD's soda)
Small sticker

Launcher Assembly:
*Drill a hole, with similar size diameter as your straw, into the cap of the water bottle.
*Cut the small straw down to ~3 inches.
*Insert straw into newly made hole.
*Glue the straw into place (optional).

*Various size straws closed off completely on one end with a small sticker. (You can vary length/diameter, but the diameter of the rocket needs to be large enough to easily come off of the smaller straw with a squeeze of the bottle).
*Nerf-ish rockets (these too are fairly cheap - we found a pack at Fry's around Christmas that we've been using with our other rocket launchers too).

*The launcher works better with one quick hard squeeze.
*Plastic water bottles are poor quality plastic and deform really easily.
*You can blow into the straw to quickly reform the bottle (demonstrated in video below).
*I don't recommend gluing the cap onto the bottle since you might want to stick a long skinny to recover the bottle shape.
*Ultimately it takes 2 minutes to put together, so it's not worth getting frustrated over the bottle.

*Alter the length and diameters of the straw rockets being launched.  Note the differences between the rockets.
*Decorate the straws being launched.
*Give the straws fins and wings.  How does that change the flight of the rocket?
*Aim for a target.
*How high can you launch the rocket to the sky?

Here's a video of Big and Little J launching the rockets.  It's hard to capture the flight of the rocket.  The first launch was the Nerf-like rocket and the second was the straw:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

You know when...

you're a nerd, when your child refers to you as Teacher Mommy (totally J's name for me at the moment).

you're raising a nerd, when threatening to take away science works better to turn around naughty behavior than threatening to take away desserts.

Banana Balloon Update

Following my last post about the banana blowing up a balloon, I decided to place the bottle on the stove (out of hands of curious little scientist). After a few days of thinking the experiment was over, with no real noticeable change, the experiment became more exciting! The balloon inflated more! On 2/9/12, it measured 6 cm in circumference.

I'll report back any new changes and the results of mashing up 3 bananas and repeating the experiment.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bananas and balloons

J goes on banana kicks.  He loves them, and then he won't eat them for weeks.  He's doing the latter at the moment.

So, we decided to make an experiment from one of our rotting bananas.

I took the idea from the book, The Everything Kids' Science Experiments Book, which happens to be my favorite Christmas present I received this year.  Don't worry, I have a review in the works to give some opinions on this book and twists to toddlers and preschoolers (it's geared for 8+).  I hope to finish this review in the near future.

Anyways, it's a fairly easy set-up.  You mash up a very ripe (think brown) banana, stick it in a bottle (we used one of our many 20oz soda bottles), pop a balloon over the top of the bottle, and document the process.  The book recommends putting it outside in a sunny place to expedite the process.  However, we live in an apartment complex with a lot of boys who have potential of screwing up well planned science experiments...and it's not really "warm" outside, mid-60s at best.  Our apartment has been ~70 deg during the day, but the balloon hasn't been exposed to sun.

Peeling the bananas

Mashing it up with a spoon

We documented through pictures and also by measuring tape once the balloon inflated enough to measure:

Monday 1/30: Set-up the experiment

Tuesday 1/31: no noticeable change in balloon

But, there's some icky changes going on with the banana (there was some bubbly action)

Wednesday 2/1: balloon is a little more full, but still sad looking

Thursday 2/2: Balloon stands up!  J is excited that science is working.

And take a look at that gross banana mush.

Friday, 2/3: Began balloon measuring - 5 cm

More bubbly grossness in the banana mush:

Saturday 2/4: 5.2 cm

Sunday 2/5: 5.2 cm (no change, no new pic)

I'll leave the bottle alone for a week and report back next weekend.

What's going on?  As the banana decomposes/decays, it's releasing gas which wants to escape the bottle but is trapped by the balloon.  It puts pressure on the balloon, causing it to inflate.

Our Personal Extensions:
Trying this experiment during the summer inside and out (assuming we find a safe "sunny" location).  We'll compare them to each other and to the growth of the balloon during the winter inside.  Maybe we'll try one at the same time in the fridge too.  Stay tuned for another banana and balloons post over the summer.

We'll also try a smaller bottle and/or more bananas for hopefully a more dramatic response.