Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey Sail Cars

We're not huge on celebrating Thanksgiving (despite J and I being Mayflower descendants). I feel like kind of a Thanksgiving scrooge (we're not cooking a feast this year).

To reduce the scroogey feeling, I really wanted to do something Thanksgiving themed for science. I decided to adapt the toilet paper sail cars into a turkeymobile by adding a turkey to the mast!

Turkey details:
I remember from my elementary school days turning hand prints into turkeys. I traced J's hands, and we cut them out in yellow, orange, and red. Originally, I was going to add half of a toilet paper tube on top for a head and use the handprints as feathers behind the head, but J was so excited to make his thumb the head of the turkey. We went with J's idea (I think it's ultimately easier). He even gave it an eye and a beak.

J and his turkey:

Action shot!

J wants to bring to to his Thanksgiving themed share day (think Show and Tell) coming up on Wednesday. Score!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

LEGO Race Car Purchasing and Lesson Information

Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means I get paid for clicks/purchases on the Amazon links (in term supporting my blog and future Science Saturdays).

Last summer, we had a Science Saturday where we experimented with race cars out we made out of LEGOs.

Using our Pepsi Refresh Grant, here was what we purchased to make our LEGO Race Cars for around 20-25 cars:
3 sets of LEGO Education Wheel Sets
1 set of LEGO Bricks & More Deluxe Brick Box
4 sets of LEGO Bricks & More Builders of Tomorrow Set

There were no instructions, we just let the kids build whatever kind of car they wanted (first come first serve on the size of wheels though, which affected the drive too). If they had time, they were encouraged to test  and redesign their cars to see if they could make them go faster and further down the ramp/landing strip.

We used particle boards as race car ramps and placed them at different heights. Quickly, the kids learned the biggest ramp yielded the most desirable results. The link above has a good rundown on how the experiment went with our friends. It was one of our most popular Science Saturday event and will most likely be repeated in 2014.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Impulse and packaging bubbles

J loves popping all of our packaging bubbles (luckily for him, we do a lot of online shopping). He has experimented with the most efficient and satisfying way to pop the bubbles. One day, I decided to record his tactics:

He figured out that popping works best with a quick jump on the bubble, but he had a hard time popping the bubbles with his hands? Why?

With jumping:
1. He gets all of his weight (and then some - biomechanics, yay!) on the bubble.
2. The time he exerts the force is short.

With his hands:
1. Not all of his weight is transferred to the bubble (ie, he's not doing a handstand on it). Some of his weight remains on the ground while his legs hold him up.
2. The time he exerts the force is a lot longer when he uses his hands (the bubble takes time to deforms before it pops).

What simple science experiments have you done this week?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Science Saturday: Halloween Goo!

We had our last Science Saturday of 2013 the weekend before Halloween and decided it would be most fun to celebrate Halloween with Goo! Here's the original silly putty science post. This Science Saturday activity was a repeat of this Silly Putty Science Saturday from last year.

I encouraged friends to dress up in Halloween costumes and then realized that it was going to get messy. Luckily, I found these disposable aprons on Amazon (affiliate link). We only had one casualty, an adult sweater sleeve, but I think he got enough goo out and it was recoverable.

In honor of the Halloween spirit, here's my Capt. Hook and Smee before the festivities:

We had fun mixing glue, liquid starch, and colors to make our silly putty. I'm still surprised about how much little kids love mixing colors and telling you what the combination of colors make. We had green, purple, orange, and all of the primary colors represented.

Our friends also had fun examining the physical properties of silly putty. If you pull it really fast, it rips pretty cleanly:

If you pull it slowly:

You can make a jump rope!

Thanks to everyone who showed up and had fun! I'm hoping to find a community room/center, so we can start Science Saturday back up in January or February (to make up for the 1-2 mo I'll be out of commission in the spring).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rosie Revere, Engineer - Review

A few weeks ago we were browsing our local bookstore. While J was busy reading Curious George, I found this new book, Rosie Revere, Engineer (affiliate link). It caught my attention mainly because there is engineering paper on the cover! I picked it up and couldn't put it down. I even cried! It's now part of our picture book collection.

It starts with an introduction of a shy little girl who collects trash and recyclables (someone after my own heart!). She builds innovative contraptions for relatives, but they don't always turn out as planned. Her Great Great Aunt Rose (aka "Rosie the Riveter") gives her some sound advice about not giving up though her design didn't turn out (this is what had me in tears - sometimes we put our heart and soul into something and it fails, which sucks).

It was fun that this book makes a historical connection and has a great flow/rhyming rhythm. I recently read it aloud to J, who immediately wanted to find his book about building Handcrafted Playgrounds (from 1975, gifted to us by a dear friend) and start to design and build his own things (aka engineering). He was also pretty interested in the historical afterward the book provides about women in WWII and asked some questions about that (luckily, I am pretty fond of history too).

All in all, I love the message of the book that it's ok that your designs don't work right the first time, just as long as you don't give up trying. I'm also all for strong female engineering characters. I highly recommend this book as an addition to your nerdy library.


Disclaimer: I purchased Rosie Revere, Engineer, and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Does it dissolve?

We subscribed to the Magic School Bus Science Club when I found a half off coupon (making each kit ~$10/mo). J is a little young for the intended age group, but many of the experiments he can do with guidance. He gets so excited when he sees the Magic School Bus package on the doorstep. We usually do an experiment the following weekend (though we haven't done more than 1-2 before the next month arrives - they are saved for later use of course).

This month's experiment packet was on water. The experiment that we chose was Substances Dissolving in Water. We used their recommended mixtures and added another (see details of the experiment below). We also didn't use test tubes standing up in clay, as they recommended. Instead, we used custard bowls and mixed the substances with clean spoons.

*6 custard dishes filled half way with water
*vegetable oil
*food coloring

*Guess whether the material will dissolve (go away) when combined with water. A good way to think of it would be: can you separate out the material to get just water + material after you combined them? If you can't the material dissolved.

J's Hypotheses: Does the material dissolve?
*Water and oil: Yes
*Water and salt: No
*Water and sand: No
*Water and food coloring: Yes
*Water and sugar: Yes

*Add a few drops of oil to one cup and stir.
*Add a few drops of food coloring to one cup and stir.
*Add a teaspoon of salt to one cup and stir.
*Add a teaspoon of sugar to one cup and stir.
*Add a teaspoon of sand to one cup and stir.
*Observe your matter. Did each one dissolve in water?
*Record your observations.

*Water and oil: No
*Water and salt: Yes
*Water and sand: No
*Water and food coloring: Yes
*Water and sugar: Yes

Oil at the top, water below (not dissolved)
J loved this simple science experiment. His hypotheses were all over the place, but now if he does this experiment in school, he'll know which material dissolves in water.

I can't wait to try other experiments from the Magic School Bus.