Sunday, July 19, 2015

Melting Ice in the Fridge

Saturday night at dinner time had us conversing about our world. Somehow, the conversation was turned to, "What do you think will happen if we put ice in the fridge?" J, without hesitation, hypothesized that it would melt. Why? Because he's just that smart (intuition).

John and J put an ice in a cup and placed it in the fridge over night.

J checked on it during breakfast this morning and found that it wasn't completely melted! He was baffled. We left it in the fridge until lunch time, when it was found completely melted. They put another piece of ice in a cup and left if out between breakfast and lunch. That too was completely melted by lunch time.

Why did the fridge ice take longer to melt?

The temperature in the fridge was above freezing, so the ice would melt. It took a long time since the temperature in the fridge was in the high 30 (deg F) range. The air from the fridge did melt the ice. It was just slightly warmer than the ice itself, so it took a long time.

The temperature of the room (~72 deg F) was much higher than freezing point (32 deg F), so it didn't take as long to melt the ice cube.

Other things you can try with ice:

Melt an ice cube in front of a fan. Have one away from the fan to compare the two. What happened?

Record the temperature of various locations around your house (fridge, freezer, closet, patio, washing machine, etc.) with a thermometer and predict which ice cube will melt the fastest based on the knowledge you learned here. Place an ice cube in various locations and see if you're right!

Related Posts:
     *Melting ice, measuring temperature
     *Melting ice with colors

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dolly Science

So, after Pi Day, my husband, John, came down with pneumonia for two weeks, we had Miss J's 1st birthday, and immediately after that, John came down with shingles (coincidentally, on the day Miss J was vaccinated against chicken pox and the day J's sixth birthday present of the chicken pox arrived on our doorstep). So needless-to-say, I've been working full time and mommying two (at times, sick) kids, basically on my own for two months. I'll admit that there have been days I've pooped out before 8p.

Background on the lesson:  I was able to save a few of my childhood dolls. Miss J has taken a particular liking to my Cabbage Patch doll, Meggie. She gets so excited any time we pull her out. Besides being a way to get her to stop evening screams, she is learning a lot. She took interest in this doll right around 7 months, and the bond has only grown stronger.

Science lessons learned by playing with a baby doll

  • Anatomy!! Ask about, describe, and point out parts of the doll's body. 
    • Miss J's favorites are the doll's nose, toes, and belly button.
      • Big bro, J, is joining in on the fun and knows that the belly button is where babies were attached to their mommies and how they received food while inside their mommies.
      • J likes to help her identify body parts and will even sing songs (ie. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, the Hokie Pokie, etc.) with her and the baby doll.
  • Have them teach: Babies like to show you what they have learned. Ask him/her to point to the body part on the baby doll, him/herself, and you.
  • Relationships and conclusions: Deciding what do do once you know a result is important. Ask your baby what to do if the baby doll is cold/tired/hungry/grumpy/happy/excited. How would the baby express if she is tired, happy, grumpy, etc.?
    • Miss J loves to cover her baby with a blankie, giving hugs, tickling the baby, cheering with baby, clapping the baby's hands, giving the baby a binkie, etc.
  • Order and direction: Science is full of order: you do this, then this, and then that (ie. put on bib, eat food, and clean up). 
    • In science, skipping steps can lead to bigger problems. Equate it to bathing your kid and then giving them that big giant bowl of chocolate pudding. Some things you just don't do out of order.
    • Show order while playing with the baby doll. See if your baby catches you doing something out of order or not what is expected. 
      • Do something silly like put the baby doll's shoes on before her socks. 
      • Of course, discuss it with your child! Communication is key in science.
  • Practice: Retention (remembering how to do something) is important in science, so practice skills!
    • Miss J loves putting bibs on Meggie and then pretend spoon feeding her.

Just in case anyone was wondering, Big bro, J, also played with a doll at an early age (no gender bias here):

What science lessons can you learn by having simple childhood toys around?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ultimate Pi Day Party! 3-14-15 9:26:53

Last week, we celebrated the Ultimate Pi Day (3.141592653...) with a Pi Party in the park. We had 20-30 people attend and had so much fun! Here's our Pi(e) spread complete with many homemade and store bought pies.

One of our nerdy attendees made this sign by the pie. Do you get it? Also, our local grocery store got in on the Pi Day fun...notice the price of the mini pie?

We lined the other tables with butcher paper and traced circles for Pi Day Posters and Investigating Pi. One of the attendees decided to reverse my investigating pi lesson to measuring the circumference with a string and seeing how many times she could measure the diameter from the circumference string (a little more than 3). The kids were more excited about the Pi-rate Treasure Hunt! Who can blame them?

Pi-rate booty!

Pi-rate Treasure Hunt:

I printed out an aerial Google Map of the park with clue #1 marked. The park where we had the event had a walking path, so I stuck the clues in obvious places along the path for the problems. Hints were more hidden, so the participants had to actively look for those if they needed the help. The kids had to answer 5 questions (preferably from the same set of questions) to get a prize from the treasure chest.

I had three levels of math problems for the kids to find and solve. I cut and pasted the problems onto colorful 3x5 cards:

Easy (green): Preschool
Medium (orange): k-2 grade
Hard (pink) = 3 grade+

Then I had some problems for adults (yellow) who might have accompanied their kids around. Those were more high school math, up to pre-algebra.

Here are the problems I came up with (note, my goal was to not make anyone cry).

Easy Pi-rate treasure hunt problems
Medium Pi-rate treasure hunt problems
Hard Pi-rate treasure hunt problems
Pi-rate treasure hunt problems for the adults

How did you fare on the Pi-rate Treasure Hunt questions?

How did you celebrate the Ultimate Pi Day??

Just for fun, here's our annual Pi Day Family Photo:

And one of the kids and me:

Previous years' Pi Day Photos.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Pi-rate Treasure Hunt

Guess what?? Pi Day is my favorite nerdy holiday! My favorite activity so far has been celebrating with a Pi Party in the park. We made Pi Day Posters and Investigated Pi (and ate pie, but that's a normal Pi Day activity). Along with that fun, I created a treasure map and some fun math questions and sent the kids on a Pi-rate Treasure Hunt!

I used a screenshot of the park on Google Maps using the satellite feature and marked a path for the treasure hunt. I had five stops along the treasure hunt, each stop had four different levels of math questions. Clues to solving the problems if they needed help were hidden nearby, so they had to look for them if they really wanted the help. The fifth problem was at a treasure chest. After solving that problem, the kids received a small prize (leftover party goodies, like mardi gras beads and silly glasses from years of storage). (Note: edited 2/27/17 to past tense and linked to the math problems).

Easy - 3-5 year olds (preschool)
Medium - 5-7 year olds (k-2nd)
Hard - 7-9 year olds (3-4th)

And just for the adults to play alongside their kiddos:
Adult - Trig and pre-calculus level - brush up on your equations :-)

Happy Almost Pi Day to you!!

Related Post:
Ultimate Pi Party - pictures of our treasure hunt included!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Different Perspective

One of Miss J's favorite things recently is being flipped upside down. She'll crawl up to me and put her head in my lap as a sign to flip her upside down.

I love caving in and letting her hang upside down. Why?

Babies love to predict what is going to happen next. They crave routine.

She is developing a hypothesis. I'm not so sure what hypothesis/hypotheses she is forming. Maybe it's if I put my head in Mommy's lap, she'll flip me upside down. Most of the time I'll swing her upside down. Every once in a while, I'll do something else, like tickle her to see her reaction.

The world also looks different while hanging upside down. People seem to be hanging from the ceiling! It's not really so, but it looks like it when you're upside down.

Your body feels different! Blood rushes to your head, and endorphins kick in. You try it - handstand on the couch, I won't tell anyone.

Babies are discovering the world around them. Help them out a little bit.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Acute Baby

I saw a design similar to this onesie when I was pregnant with Miss Baby J. We are kind of maker-type people (when we have the time). I put it on my list of things I want to make her, but I figured that I'd never get to it (much like updating this blog, which sat lonely for a few months while I was trying not to drown).

Anyways, I had a few days over winter break to create my own shirt. I dyed a white body suit purple and drew the design in Inkscape before John helped me convert it into a digital file that is compatible with an embroidering machine. It's fun to have unique, nerdy pieces, and "acute" model to wear them:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Inside of a breast pump

There, I've said it, "breast" is now on my blog. It's no secret that I work full time outside of the house. My breast pump provides me the opportunity to give my children milk during their first year. A few weeks ago, my older pump (~5 yrs old), which I currently use and keep at work, began acting up. It would oscillate and lose suction with each cycle. As an engineer, I wanted to find a fix.

For a week or two, just re-positioning the tube connection to the pump would keep it in long enough for my pumping session. Then that didn't work. I just needed the external pump cylinder (what I'll be referring to as the "suction piece") to stop moving in and out of the pump. If it was stationary, the suction would work just fine. In a pinch, I grabbed some scotch tape (the only tape I had handy) from my desk. That worked for a session or two. Then I added more and more tape until finally I remembered to bring it home to ask John for some duct tape (which we didn't have! I feel like we failed as mechanical engineers).

I explained the situation to John and that I just need the suction piece to stop moving and it works. John wanted to open it up. I was nervous, but it was well out of warranty and heck, we're engineers!

Voila! The inside of the pump. It's so pretty, and fairly basic!

We saw the plastic clips that held the casing surrounding the suction piece were broken and coming off, allowing the piece to move in a way that it wasn't supposed to. We needed something to wedge in there. Luckily, I hoard milk caps (for science!). With a hole cut out to fit the pump cylinder, a milk cap was wedged into the pump. The pump was closed and tested out. It worked!! It's been ok for a week now, and I hope it lasts for another 3 months. A penny solution is much better than buying a new pump!

Broken clips, like the one shown under the motherboard and our milk cap wedged in at the far right

On a customer service note, my original pump did die 9 months into J (5 yrs ago). It was still under the first year warranty, so I called and they overnighted me a new one (which is the one that broke this time)! I was (and still am) a very heavy pump user, and until I acquired a second pump, I was bike commuting with my pump, which probably gave it some extra shaking. All-in-all, I've been very satisfied with my breast pump.

Is there anything you recently took apart or reverse engineered to see how it works?

Are there any mommy tools that could be helped through better engineering and technology?

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) had an innovation contest to redesign the breast pump. I'd love something quieter, less bulky/clunky, and more discrete!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Baby Science at Feeding Time

Simple science experiments that babies do on their own - and how you can embrace the science:

*Squish their food - How does that feel on your hands? Give them something else to squish with a different texture. How does that feel? How does it feel on your face? How does it feel on your hair? (It's inevitable, you'll have to hose them down anyways).

*Prefer one food - Give the baby a few different food items on the tray and watch him/her pick up the preferred items first. Once the preferred items are gone, watch which item disappears next. It's a form of sorting, the bin is just his/her mouth!

*Drop things - Where did it go? Did you hear it hit the ground? Give the item back to them (assuming you're ok with whatever condition the floor is in). Whoa, did it happen again? Was it the same? Then offer something different (i.e. plastic, wooden, metal spoons). Did that sound different? How about this sippy cup? Whoops, the lid fell off. Did you hear the water splash on the ground? (you'll have to wait a few minutes while I clean it up!)

Little Miss J is now 9 months! As you can probably tell by this post, we're well into the feeding craziness of babyhood. Oh, being a parent is fun!